The 3rd International Conference of Financing for Development (FFD), which started on July 13 in Addis Ababa, drew to a close this week with participants already describing it “a success” following the endorsement of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

The conference, believed to have been attended by over 5000 delegates, was meant to discuss how to secure the financial resources badly needed for the post 2015 development programs, as well as for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will replace the soon-to-expire Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

An unprecedented number of heads of states and governments, leaders of private and public institutions, international financial institutions and other stakeholders gathered to discuss the means of funding these newly adopted programs at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa hall in Addis Ababa.

The Millennium Development Goals
It was in 2002 that the first international conference of Financing for Development was held in Monterrey, Mexico to find the finances needed to support the MDGs adopted two years earlier at the UN summit in New York. Doha, Qatar also hosted the follow up international conference to review the Monterrey consensus in 2008.

The MDGs were adopted 15 years ago with the objectives of reducing poverty, ensuring universal primary education, reducing maternal and child mortality rates, promoting gender equality, combating AIDS, malaria and other diseases, as well as creating global partnerships for development and ensuring environmental sustainability.

According to the 2015 UN MDGs report, the number of people living in the extreme poverty has been reduced from 1.9 billion people in 1990 to 836 million in 2015, where the program is credited for lifting millions out of poverty. During this period new HIV-AIDS infections was also halted by 40% between 2000 and 2013.

Though the MDGs proved successful in various sectors, still extreme poverty, disease, migration and global warming loom as the biggest challenges for poor nations.

About fifty-seven million children at the primary-school age still remain out of school while 800 million people are chronically undernourished and do not have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food. And every year, six million children die before celebrating their fifth birthday—43 children out of 1000 live births—most of them in sub-Saharan African countries according to the UN report.

Blazing a Trail Forward
The 17 new SDGs, which envisage more ambitious goals than its predecessor, are expected to be endorsed at the United Nations summit in New York this coming September.

The SDGs’ primary aim is to eradicate extreme poverty for everybody on the planet by 2030. The second goal is to end hunger and achieve food security worldwide. Just like the goals are lofty, the financial cost to realize them sky-high.

“We need trillions, not billions, of dollars to accomplish these goals, and the money will come from many sources: developing countries, private sector investment, donors, and international financial institutions. By working together, we can help people build better lives with good education, quality health care, clean water, and proper sanitation. Those investments in people will help end extreme poverty in just 15 years,” said the World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim.

The planned sustainable development programs cost over 2.5 trillion dollars every year with the sum of over 17 trillion dollars in the coming 15 years. The total is about five times the value of the 2015 budget of the United States federal government—a very large amount to say the least.

Leaders of international financial institutions and governments discussed ways of finding these financial resources to meet the new development goals, and the new initiatives outlined in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

The pact, which got the approval of the 193 UN Member States attending the Conference, is said to contain more than 100 concrete measures, addressing all sources of finance and covering cooperation on a range of issues including technology, science, innovation, trade and capacity building.

“This agreement is a critical step forward in building a sustainable future for all. It provides a global framework for financing sustainable development,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “The results here in Addis Ababa give us the foundation of a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development that will leave no one behind.”

Ahead of the Addis conference, the international financial institution IMF and multilateral developments banks announced a 400 billion dollar fund to finance private and public sectors aiming to achieve the sustainable development goals in the coming three years alone.

The United States, Canada and the World Bank also launched global financing activity in support of women and children with 12 billion dollars for programs in Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Tanzania.

Further, the leaders in Addis made it a point to discuss ways of stopping the loss of 50 billion dollars that African countries are losing every year illicitly. This way, they can depend on domestic finances—as opposed to the previous trend were many development programs relied on aid—including for the MDGs.

The Addis conference concluded yesterday, and saw an additional 200 side events where governments and other stakeholders announced additional commitments, including the establishment of new international development banks.