Kabul, Afghanistan, 13 Oct, 2019 -- UNDP Afghanistan and the Regional Bureau of UNDP for the Asia Pacific – convened a week long meeting in Bangkok in September involving experts and officials from across UNDP HQ, Regional Bureau of Asia Pacific and country offices in the region to discuss financing and programmatic options for supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Afghanistan.
This discussion follows the new changes in the vision, programming, strategies and structure of UNDP Afghanistan country office that started earlier this year.
The new changes in direction was kicked off with a week of SDGs Roundtable Discussions at the end of July that brought together a large number of international SDG experts and economists along with relevant government ministries to discuss viable options for Afghanistan to move from a war economy to a peace economy and achieve the key SDG targets.
UNDP as SDG Integrator
The meeting in Bangkok on SDG financing in Afghanistan largely achieved its objectives, as clear roles and responsibilities were defined, focal points were assigned, and next steps were outlined. It was agreed that UNDP, as the ‘integrator of SDGs’, can and should play a leading role in integrating the development agenda in national planning and implementations.
It could bring together national and international expertise, including other UN agencies, to pool resources and design effective evidence based programmes to help Afghanistan address its socio-economic challenges and achieve the key SDG targets.
The meeting also examined the challenges of development work in Afghanistan and stressed the need to transition from a war economy to a peace economy as well as the challenges of SDG alignment, coordination and data collection. It was emphasized that there is an urgent need to improve the capacity of the Afghan government to raise additional funds in support of national development and SDGs priorities. UNDP is introducing a comprehensive platform for SDG finance in Afghanistan with the aim of leveraging and channeling non-conventional financial resources to developing programmes in the country.
Innovative SDG Financing
To this end UNDP Afghanistan presented its strategic vision and proposed changes in its programming and structure to help Afghan government and citizens to achieve the SDGs. A series of presentations on SDG financing, SDG costing and budgeting, taxation and innovative financial instruments and best practices applied in other similar contexts were presented. Options were explored on how to apply those practices a new instrument in Afghanistan.
UNDP shall take immediate action to enhance the capacity of the relevant national bodies to improve Afghanistan’s Human Development Index through inclusive socio economics and enhanced governance. The need for possessing reliable data was deemed the most important before deciding on entry-point. Hence it was agreed that a dedicated team of experts should be hired to produce high quality data, development models and reports to ensure all future programming is effective and in line with the SDGs and priorities of Afghanistan.
To move forward swiftly, focal points on the new platform design, SDG financing and all four programme pillars of UNDP Afghanistan were agreed between the country office and the Bangkok regional hub.