– Thematic Strategy –

UN SDGs ENGAGEMENT

In 2015 the United Nations introduced the new global development agenda for 2015 through 2030 and adopted a set of seventeen SDGs for the action of the member states. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the SDGs as a global agenda represents a universal framework for comprehensive development. They are integrated and indivisible and balance three primary dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental.

The SDGs are 17 ambitious, high-level goals with 169 specific targets and 230 indicators that seek to address global economic, social, governance and environmental challenges by 2030, and have been adopted by 193 countries. They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations complement strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our natural environment.

CHALLENGES

One of the most salient factors that however challenge the achievement of the SDGs by 2030 is the shortage of financial resources. In emerging markets alone, the UN estimates USD3.9 trillion per year will be required to reach all 17 goals by 2030. At the current rate of investment, the UN has calculated a gap of USD2.5 trillion per year.

Even though the United Nations, governments, investors, corporations and financial institutions and Civil Society Organizations have committed themselves to achieving the SDGs within the next 10 years, there is no practical way to bridge the gap of $25 trillion. Capital is not flowing at the required speed to the countries where SDG investment matters most. Africa remains the most challenged continent. Yet, it is also one that is booming with innovation, initiatives and impact ventures. Nearly half of the financing required to achieve the SDGs needs to flow to Africa.

Adding to the foregoing challenges is the global coronavirus pandemic (also known as SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19) that has caused a massive global upheaval that may endure for decades – or longer. Epidemiologists are not comparing Covid-19 to SARS or Swine Flu, but to the Spanish influenza of 1918 that killed between 50 and 100 million people worldwide. While we do not have good data on how the global economic system fared during the 1918 flu, but we do know that it led to a severe economic recession. Experts have predicted that Covid-19 will be no different.

But the recession of Covid-19 will not only be driven by the economic loss of able-bodied workers, it will be helped along too by the steps political leaders take to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, and to limit the economic disruption while sustaining a “people first” focus. In a fast-moving crisis, as information swarms in from every direction, citizens look to their governments for information, guidance, and leadership. They expect not only to be kept safe and healthy, but expect to be efficiently guided on issues ranging from how to gain clarity amid chaos; how can they leverage public/private partnerships to create new opportunities and experiences; to how they can move from ad hoc solutions to a well-planned path to recovery.

ISLAMIC FRAMEWORK

As African countries grapple with severely constrained budgets and difficult economic conditions, securing resources to meet the SDGs is becoming increasingly challenging. In fact, nearly 9 in 10 countries will experience a budget shortfall due to the pandemic, and they will be met with equal pressure to create jobs and provide reliable government services.

The challenges of mobilising SDG investment, particularly in African economies, are real. But barriers are coming down and new thinking is helping to channel capital into countries that have previously found it difficult to attract private investment. Innovative forms of finance such as Islamic finance is providing the mechanism for investors and corporates to rise to the challenge.

With assets totaling about $2.5 trillion and forecast to reach $3.5 trillion by 2024. Islamic finance is one of the fastest growing sectors in the global financial industry. Furthermore, the support of its underlying principles for environment, sustainability, Governance (ESG) and wholesomeness (tayyiban), strongly demonstrate the strong correlations between the SDGs and the underlying Shari’ah principles of Islamic finance.

From our perspectives as an Islamic Economic organization, we have therefore aligned ourselves with the objectives of the SDGs and hope to provide a sustainable framework for addressing these challenges, with the objective of originating practical and compelling financial solutions with measurable social and environmental impact,through engagements focused on projects related to 12 of the 17 (SDGs), being eradication of poverty and greater food security, healthier lives, inclusive and equitable education, sustainable management of water, access to affordable and clean energy, fostering economic growth, sustainable industrialization, cities and communities, responsible consumption, dealing with climate and environmental degradation,development of  partnerships across Africa.

The framework thus provides African Governments and SMEs a unique opportunity to present and highlight their projects and businesses to a broader audience, to generate awareness, extend outreach, attract expert advisory services and mentorship, and to raise capital.

PARTNERSHIPS AND THE ROLE FOR ISLAMIC FINANCE

We believe that the way to recovery from the disruptions of the pandemic is through collaboration and partnership across sectors, across stakeholders, and across equity gaps. We also believe that the careful engagement of all voices, in a collaborative and thoughtful way is critical when forming solutions to the challenges we are facing and to moving forward with confidence and trust.

SDG 17 focuses specifically on this issue, stating that: “… multi-stakeholder partnerships [are] important vehicles for mobilizing and sharing knowledge, expertise, technologies and financial resources to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries, particularly developing countries. Goal 17 … seeks to encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships.”

Given its emphasis on risk-sharing, linkages to real economic activities, partnership-based and equity-focused approaches, widened geographic reach and the rapid expansion of its global assets in Muslim and non-Muslim countries, Islamic finance possesses the potential tools to attract impact Investments to meet the 2030 targets of the SDGs.

The framework is driven by eight key strategies:

  1. Halal Value Chain and Industrialization;
  2. Islamic Finance and Investments;
  3. Micro, Small and Medium enterprises;
  4. Digital Economy;
  5. Regulation and Governance;
  6. Public Awareness and Literacy;
  7. Research and Development; and Quality and Quantity of Human Resources.

CONTACT US

We warmly welcome expressions of interest and invitations for engagements or request for more information about our activities. Please drop us a message at: info@afrief.org

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