UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


IIPP Director launches new report on SDG financing at the United Nations

2 October 2023

Professor Mariana Mazzucato presented her new report on SDG financing written with the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) to global leaders.

SDG Summit news story cover image

Professor Mazzucato presented a new policy note on SDG financing at the United Nations on the occasion of the SDG Summit, a two-day high-level forum convened by United Nations (UN) on 18-19 September in New York. With only 15% of the 169 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets currently being met, global leaders came together to mobilise action ahead of their 2030 deadline.  

Earlier this year, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Deputy Secretary General Mohammed invited her to address the heads of all UN agencies at the UN Chief Executives Board in Nairobi (May 2023). 

Prof Mazzucato speaking at the SDG Summit.

Prof Mazzucato presented the policy note - Financing the Sustainable Development Goals through mission-oriented development banks - at the high-level event on The SDG Stimulus: Scaling up long-term, affordable financing for the SDGs alongside Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance of Ghana, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, Minister of State Development of France, and other high-level government officials.

Prof Mazzucato contributed to a private high-level roundtable hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and Global Public Investment Network (GPIN). Speaking alongside Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and Stefan Löfven, Former Prime Minister of Sweden, Prof Mazzucato emphasised the need for a common good approach to international finance. She synthesised these ideas in her contribution to GPIN’s new report, Time for Global Public Investment
She also spoke on a panel with President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the UK, and Mayor Eduardo Paes of Rio de Janeiro. The SDG Summit session, SDGs in the Second Half, explored the key barriers and enablers to unlocking action around the SDGs until 2030.

Read the policy brief here

Prof Mazzucato wrote the UN DESA policy note in her capacity as a member of the UN High Level Advisory Board (HLAB) on Economic and Social Affairs. The policy note argues that there is an urgent need for channelling long-term patient finance towards achieving the SDGs. National Development Banks (NDBs) and Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), which together hold over $24 trillion, can play a crucial role in mobilizing the needed capital, but only if an outcomes-oriented approach is adopted to galvanize, catalyze, and crowd in substantial global public and private finance (scaling global finance from billions to trillions) towards specific goals.

Prof Mazzucato with President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo, Former UK's Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes.

Strong publicly set goals – or missions– can transform broad SDG related challenges, like global health and climate change, into investment pathways—so the sum of the loans is larger than the parts. Key is to ensure that strong conditions around reciprocity determine equitable and just partnerships and direct finance towards sustainable and inclusive outcomes.

The key messages of the policy note resonates with IIPP’s work with the Government of Barbados, where Prime Minister Mia Mottley has led the charge to call for a new financial architecture, and specifically more fiscal space for countries in the Global South to tackle the adverse effects of the climate crisis. Prof Mazzucato and Prime Minister Mottley discussed these issues at a COP 27 high-level panel in Sharm El Sheikh co-hosted by IIPP and the Scottish Government.

During her time in New York, Prof Mazzucato also highlighted the glaring absence of water-related issues at the SDG Summit. In her capacity as Co-Chair of the Global Commission on the Economics of Water alongside Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Director General of the World Trade Organisation), Tharman Shanmugaratnam (President of Singapore), and Johan Rockstrom (Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research), Prof Mazzucato explored the opportunities for redesigning public-private relationships to limit rent extraction and maximize public value. You can find her op-ed for the World Economic Forum (WEF) here.

This policy brief argues that to make progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, it is time to adopt a mission-oriented approach and transform them into real investment pathways.