UN RC opening remarks at Tbilisi International Solidarity and Innovative Financing Forum 2018Back

Welcoming remarks by UN Resident Coordinator Louisa Vinton

Dear Mr. Chairman of the Parliament

Excellencies, dear delegates and distinguished guests


  • On behalf of the United Nations family in Georgia, it’s an honor to be here to welcome you all to the second Tbilisi International Solidarity and Innovative Financing Forum.


  • Let me use this opportunity to congratulate Georgia on the achievements of its Presidency of the Leading Group on Innovative Financing, which included a lively discussion of innovations such as cryptocurrencies and blockchain on the margins of the UN General Assembly earlier this year.


  • The quest to secure the funding needed to end poverty and promote other development goals has always been an arduous and precarious one, as the United Nations agencies know well first-hand.


  • This task has become even more challenging with the unanimous adoption by all the member states of the United Nations of the Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015.


  • This set of 17 goals is breathtaking in its ambition.


  • Among other things, the SDGs set out to eliminate poverty, end hunger, reduce inequality, and ensure quality healthcare, education and employment for all by the year 2030.


  • In embracing this ambitious agenda, the world has set itself quite a task.


  • Yet it has not given itself very much time to achieve it.


  • We are already at the end of year three; we have only 12 years left to reach our targets.


  • What’s more, the estimated costs of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals are very high.


  • One estimate puts the annual investment needed at between USD 5 and 7 trillion per year.


  • Compare this to the current global total for official development assistance, which last year reached just USD 147 billion, and you get a good sense of the challenge the world is facing.


  • This is one reason some sceptics are already ready to dismiss the SDGs as a starry-eyed dream.


  • Fighting this kind of defeatism is why this conference, and the ideas it is debating, are so important.


  • We will be looking to this event for proven and tested examples of innovative finance.


  • Let me just mention one example close to home.


  • Since its establishment in 2014, Georgia’s Solidarity Fund has used regular micro-donations to collect almost USD 4 million to treat hundreds of children and young adults suffering from cancer.


  • Social impact bonds are another tool that can help in closing the financing gap for development.


  • And there are many other intriguing ideas on the rich agenda of the conference.


  • Some of these are unfortunately already generating more hype than hope, however.


  • So I would like to conclude with a cautionary note on innovation.


  • There is no magic wand.


  • Whatever our creative skills, we can’t make money appear out of nowhere.


  • But what we can do is to fundamentally rethink the way we spend what money we have.


  • To cite just one example, the world is currently paying subsidies for the fossil fuels that cause climate change that are estimated at USD 5.3 trillion, or 6.5 percent of global GDP, every year.


  • So in essence we are spending massive sums of money to accelerate the destruction of the world.


  • Think of what could be achieved if we applied these sums to SDG #13, the Global Goal aimed at halting climate change and protecting the world from its catastrophic impact.


  • In fact, what we spend now to subsidize fossil fuels could cover virtually the entire SDG funding gap.


  • So while exploring the promise of innovative finance we should not forget the need for smarter spending. These are challenges that need to be tackled together and with great urgency.


  • Please know that in the United Nations family you have a friend and ally for both efforts.


  • Let me congratulate Georgia once again on hosting this important conference and wish you all fruitful deliberations.


Thank you.