Statement by H.E. Jörundur Valtýsson,
Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations
19 April 2023
This year’s Financing for Development Forum marks the halfway point in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. An important milestone in the lead-up to the SDG Summit and the Summit of the Future.
We thank the President of ECOSOC and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs for organizing these thoughtful discussions and the co-facilitators from Portugal and Rwanda, and member states, for their efforts in delivering a balanced and forward-looking FFD outcome document. Not an easy task, as Iceland knows first-hand, serving as a co-facilitator with Grenada last year, where member states strived to meet the moment and collectively move the needle forward.
Regrettably, the global economic outlook has not improved since. The significant progress that developing countries have achieved through decades of effort is fading in part due to conflicts and soaring food and energy prices, the climate and debt crises and increasing inequality. We must act immediately if we are to ensure that the impacts of the overlapping crises are not felt for generations to come.
Iceland is committed to play its part during these trying times. Our Official Development Assistance grew in real terms by approximately 32% between 2021 and 2022. Although this increase is due, in part, to our steadfast and continued support to Ukraine as well as an increase in in-donor refugee costs, we are acutely aware of the fact that the far-reaching ramifications of the Russian aggression in Ukraine have hit the most vulnerable the hardest. Therefore, we continue to emphasize the importance of continuing our strong support to our bilateral development partners, and we have increased our core funding to our key UN partners. Our contributions to climate finance are increasing, as well as our assistance to some of the most fragile places on earth.
But ODA alone cannot ensure the achievement of the SDGs by 2030. We need to expand on new and innovative partnerships and funding streams, including private and blended finance, and green and gender bonds. Domestic resource mobilization must be strengthened, and illicit financial flows curbed. The external debt burden and debt service obligations are preventing far too many developing countries from investing in their people and recovering from COVID-19. A holistic approach to financing for development is more urgent than ever.
We welcome the Secretary-General’s efforts to address the financing gap and his proposal for an SDG stimulus to tackle the high cost of debt and rising risk of debt distress. We also hear the calls of several members states to strengthen the inclusiveness and effectiveness of international tax cooperation and look forward to further discussions on this important topic.
The ongoing UN discussion on a “beyond GPD” metric is highly important. Indeed, as the Secretary General has outlined, when profits come at the expense of people and our planet, we are left with an incomplete picture of the true cost of economic growth. While we agree that “beyond GDP” could serve as a tool to enhance decision-making in the best interest of people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnerships, it is important that we proceed carefully and ensure that access to finance for the most vulnerable countries is not further limited in the process.
You can count on Iceland to play its part for the achievement of the SDGs and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
I thank you.