Women’s Working Group Reaction to FfD Outcome Document


The Women’s Working Group on Financing for Development (WWG on FfD) expresses its strong disappointment with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda adopted at the conclusion of the Third Financing for Development Conference that took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 13 to 16 July 2015.

For feminists and women’s rights organizations, the Outcome document of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development: Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) fails to remove the global obstacles to development and to shift the balance of power in the international financial architecture in order to address systemic issues and create the conditions to respect, protect and fulfill human rights, in particular women’s rights. It fails also to acknowledge the macro-economic dimension of the unpaid domestic and care work and the need to reduce and redistribute it among the State, private sector, communities, families, men and women.

The AAAA might leave the impression to some that it is strong on gender equality, women’s empowerment and women’s rights. However, while the AAAA, importantly notes in the first paragraph a commitment to respect all human rights, including the right to development, and that member states will ensure gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment, it lacks an integrated, consistent and explicit human rights based approach. The references to gender equality and women also rely on previously agreed language (i.e. Rio+20, Open Working Group (OWG) of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Doha), some of which consolidate regressive formulations (i.e., as found in Paragraph 6), others rely heavily on private sector contributions to achieving gender equality (such as Para 41).

Moreover, some of the references about women’s rights in the outcome document show strong tendencies towards the instrumentalization of women (i.e. Para 21) and to financing gender equality and women’s empowerment as a means to achieve economic growth, to increase productivity and to improve economic performance. This reference is limiting, rather than realizing women’s and girls’ human rights as per the foundation of the UN.

The outcome document has seriously reduced the integrity of the Financing for Development (FfD) agenda. On several points, there has been a serious retrogression from the commitments made in Monterrey (2002) and Doha (2008). The potential of removing global obstacles to development, setting the right priorities, policies and rules for financing the SDGs/Post 2015 Development Agenda and allowing for the full implementation of other internationally agreed development agendas, including those critical for women’s rights such as the Beijing Platform for Action and the Cairo Programme of Action is being severely curtailed.

The global partnership between developed and developing countries established in the Monterrey Consensus has been weakened by the developed countries through: i) their promotion of multi-stakeholder partnerships, ii) their lack of commitment to address systemic issues in the United Nations (UN), iii) their inability to fully recognize and respect the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) and iv) their disagreement over the establishment of an FfD Commission. While the document includes a narrative of “sustainable development”, it still relies on orthodox economic assumptions regarding growth, ‘trickle-down effects’, commodification of nature and people. The WWG on FfD flags the following key issues and demands structural changes in the global economic governance and development architecture in order to move:

  1. From ignoring systemic imbalances to creating a rights-based pro-development multilateral economic and financial architecture.
  2. From making the business case on women’s empowerment, to respecting, protecting and fulfilling women’s human rights and establishing the structural conditions to realize these rights.
  3. From creating an enabling environment to attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), promoting Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) and talking “womenomics” towards safeguards, investment frameworks that have binding norms, including for Transnational Corporations, that are consistent with Human Rights.
  4. From imbalanced global trade rules to respecting developing countries policy space for productive diversification, decent work for women, and sustainable industrial policy.
  5. From taxing women in the informal economy, to progressive taxation and international tax cooperation.
  6. From using Official Development Assistance (ODA) and development cooperation, to leveraging private finance and follow donor priorities, towards untied, additional and predictable ODA and development cooperation that contributes to the respect, protection and fulfilment of gender equality, human rights and sustainable development.
  7. From “new social compacts”, towards the implementation of comprehensive and universal social protection systems and public services.
  8. From reducing the FfD agenda to the Means of Implementation of the Post 2015 Agenda, towards a robust FfD mandate and follow up mechanism that maintains the integrity of FfD commitments in order to remove global obstacles for the implementation of all internationally agreed development agendas.

As feminists and women´s human rights organizations, we reaffirm the centrality of ensuring respect, protection and fulfillment of women`s human rights also in the Financing for Development Agenda. The Forum for Financing for Development, more than ever, will be the space in which we continue to strive for structural commitments to change the current economic and financial rules, system and unequal power relations. We will keep on demanding the level of ambition needed to achieve this task from Member States, so that true actions to subvert structural inequalities are implemented

Link to Full 39-Page Addis Ababa Conference 2015 Financing for Development Outcome Document:


Statement from Participating Civil Society Organisations in the Intergovernmental Commitee of Experts on Sustainable Develoment Financing Outreach Event on Co-Creating New Partnerships for Financing Sustainable Development, Espoo, 3-4 April 2014

Ambassador Pertti Majanen
Co-chair of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts
on Sustainable Development Financing
Cc: Sari Alander

Ref: Statement from Participating Civil Society Organisations in the Intergovernmental Commitee of Experts on Sustainable Develoment Financing Outreach Event on Co-Creating New Partnerships for Financing Sustainable Development, Espoo, 3-4 April 2014

Helsinki, April 10 2014
Dear Ambassador Pertti Majanen,

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the multi-stakeholder consultation “Co-Creating new Partnerships for Financing Sustainable Development”, that took place in Espoo, April 3-4. After two days of interesting and challenging conversations, we, the civil society representatives who participated, want to share with you some of the key shared understandings among us.

A few people are wealthier than ever, while at the same time every eight of us go to bed hungry at night and too many, especially women and the most marginalized people, are left behind. Inequality is rising both between and within countries. Climate change and environmental degradation pose a threat to our whole existence. We need to act now. The costs of inaction are higher than the costs of action. Waiting costs money and human lives. These global issues will not be solved by charity or profit-seeking partnerships and finance do not exist in isolation of the
policy choices. To put the world on track for a sustainable future, all actors have to contribute to sustainable development. We need financing of good quality and quantity, sustainable use of our natural resources and crucial policy changes, which works in favor of those currently left behind.

The starting point is to create an enabling environment for the society as a whole: Finance for sustainable development should aim at protecting and fulfilling human rights, addressing inequalities both between and in countries and preserving global commons such as clean air and water, protecting global biodiversity and combating climate change as well as ensuring sustainable use of natural resources.

Understanding the different roles of different actors is crucial. Partnerships or private sector cannot replace the role of the public sector. States have a duty to protect human rights, to provide public goods, to preserve global commons and to ensure that the private sector takes the responsibility to respect human rights and environment. These duties cannot be outsourced to the private sector.

Instead of taking donor driven approach, we have to focus on democratic ownership and domestic resource mobilization. We have to change policies that hinder the domestic resource mobilization in low-income countries and the development of the local private sector.

Policies and rules are crucial: An enabling environment for sustainable development requires not only money, but international and domestic policies and rules that serve people rather than business. The critical policy areas include:

• Corporate accountability: agreeing on binding international corporate accountability norms, based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and promoting the harmonization and implementation of existing guidelines.
• Climate change: mitigation requires regulation and incentives, carbon pricing and cutting environmentally harmful subsidies like those for fossil fuels, and also allocating resources to climate change adaptation and disaster risk funding.
• Domestic resource mobilization and illicit outflows: re-directing existing funds by building up progressive tax systems and stopping illicit outflows through agreeing on international transparency regulation: enforcing country-by-country reporting for companies, developing further a system of multilateral automatic exchange of tax information, setting an international standard for public beneficial ownership registries and strengthening the UN Tax Committee. Stopping illicit flows also includes promoting a responsible lending and debt work out mechanisms.

• The financial sector: addressing transparency and volatility problems in the current financial system at the global and national level, by for example imposing the Financial Transaction Tax (FTT).
• Trade and investment policies: including sustainable development policies and clauses for human rights protection in multilateral and bilateral trade agreements.

Partnerships between public and private sectors and catalyzing private investment with public money can only be complementary to public finance. The focus should be on the quality and not only on the quantity of finance. Public-private partnerships are usually a costly way to finance public services and investments. There is also little evidence on the real additionally and development effects of using public finance to mobilize private investment.

Private sector can and has to contribute to sustainable development but there is also strong evidence that it has contributed to unsustainable development. Human rights violations of extractive industries, tax evasion and financial and climate crises represent one of biggest market failures ever. Strong accountability and regulatory frameworks are needed to ensure private sector´s contribution to sustainable development.

If public development or climate finance is allocated to the private sector or public finance is used to leverage private investments for development, countries need to ensure that; 1) there are clear criteria which are applied ex-ante, to determine whether a specific private sector actor is fit for partnership, 2) development effects are evaluated before and after, 3) sound risk assessments, including social and environmental considerations, are carried out, 4) democratic ownership, transparency and accountability, focus on results and other aid effectiveness principles are realized, 5) supporting the development of developing countries’ local private sector is considered a primary objective, 6) tax avoidance is prevented, 7) strong fiscal and debt safeguards are required 8) binding corporate accountability standards are used and 9) environmental sustainability is taken into account.

The importance of introducing new public financing sources that are predictable, additional and fair. The discussion on innovative financing should be focused on introducing new public financing sources like cutting environmentally harmful subsidies, adopting FTT, allocations of special drawing rights, carbon taxes and taxes for aviation and marine transport.

The focus of ODA to finance public services. ODA has a unique mandate to directly target development and it remains an important resource for countries with the highest levels of poverty and the lowest levels of domestic resources. Limited ODA resources should be channeled primarily to support public sector’s capability to provide public services ensuring fulfilment of human rights and democratic ownership. Donors should meet their 0,7/GNI target and continue to improve aid effectiveness by addressing bad practices that undermine effectiveness, such as tying aid as well as ignoring country-owned systems. The fragmentation of ODA needs to be stopped. Finally, new and additional funds for climate financing need to be ensured.

The task that has been given to the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing is crucial for our common future, and we as civil society representatives stand here to support you. We look forward to a continued consultative process, where we are invited to provide input and expertise in a fully participatory way.

Yours sincerely,

Jesse Griffiths, Director, Eurodad

Aldo Caliari, Director, Rethinking Bretton Woods Project, Center of Concern

Jean Saldanha, Senior Policy Advisor, CIDSE.

Timo Lappalainen, Executive Director, Kepa

Rilli Lappalainen, Secretary General, Kehys – The Finnish NGDO Platform to the EU

Hanna Hansson, Beyond 2015 Swedish Coordinator, Director, CONCORD

Jennifer del Rosario-Malonzo, Manager, Development Finance Program, IBON International

Sally Nicholson,Manager, Development Policy & Finance, WWF

Javier Pereira, Europe Advocacy Coordinator, ActionAid International

Farooq Ullah, Executive Director, Stakeholder Forum for a sustainable future

Tobias Hauschild, Policy Advisor, Oxfam Germany

Grace Balawag, Project Assistant, Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples International Centre for Policy Research and Education)

Akhteruzzaman Sano, Management Advisor, Save the Earth Cambodia

Klaus Schilder, Development Finance Officer, MISEREOR Germany

Jouni Nissinen, Head of environmental policy unit, The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC) and European Environmental Bureau.

Titilope Ngozi Akosa, Executive Director, Centre for 21st Century Issues

Michelle Beckett, Independent International Development Researcher & member of the European Task Force at Beyond 2015

Anja Malm, Programme Director, FIDIDA (Finnish Disability and development Partnership)

Ossi Heinänen, Secretary General, Plan Finland

Tiina Saukko, Executive Director, World Vision Finland