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First Meeting of the Development Working Group

Supporting the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, by promoting innovative financing strategies and the role of intermediary cities for achieving the SDGs.

March 3rd, 2021

First Meeting of the Development Working Group

The Development Working Group (DWG) met for the first time on February 24th and 25th under the G20 Italian Presidency. The meeting was attended by delegates from G20 members, invited countries, representatives from international and regional organisations as well as G20 engagement groups.

The two-day meeting, chaired by Amb. Marco Ricci, gave G20 members the opportunity to exchange views on the two priority areas identified by the Italian Presidency in the field of sustainable development. G20 delegations conveyed wide support to the priority areas and working methods proposed by the Italian Presidency. 

The discussion on the first priority area – innovative instruments for an efficient and effective financing for sustainable development – built on the common understanding that developing countries are facing an unprecedented crisis: on the one hand, the pandemic is generating new financing needs and reversing progress towards the SDGs; on the other, the crisis is undermining the sources of revenue that developing countries can use to combat the socio-economic consequences of the crisis. DWG participants recognized the importance of focussing their actions on promoting SDG finance mobilisation and alignment by fostering the use of Integrated National Financing Frameworks (INFFs) and scaling-up innovative tools such as SDG bonds in developing countries. The Group supported the Presidency’s intention to coordinate and build synergies with the G20 Finance Track on these matters, including to help developing countries invest debt-related resources towards the SDGs.

Under the second priority area – territorial development and localisation of SDGs – the discussion highlighted that local authorities are at the frontline in the response to the pandemic. The crisis is heightening persistent disparities within cities, between urban and rural areas and between large and small cities. Intermediary cities are important nodes in the network of rural-urban linkages and can act as catalysts for economic transformation. However, they are often neglected in national policies and lack the resources to confront a number of challenges, such as environmental and climate risks. G20 Delegates confirmed the need for the DWG to raise awareness and promote concrete actions to support the transformative potential of local authorities, especially intermediary cities, in driving an inclusive recovery and achieving the SDGs. To this end, the Group supported the proposal to develop a G20 Platform for policy dialogue on intermediary cities and SDG localisation, including voluntary initiatives on city-to-city partnerships for the SDGs.

For each priority area, G20 Delegates benefited from the latest policy analysis presented by the international organisations (OECD, UNDP and UNHABITAT). Finally, representatives from social partners and civil society – namely the Business20, Civil 20, Labour20, Think 20, Youth20 and Women20 – were invited to provide their views on the discussed priorities.

The Group recognised the unique opportunity offered by the first ever G20 Ministerial Session on Development (Matera, 29 June) to bring DWG priorities on sustainable development to the G20 Ministers’ attention, receive political guidance and develop key messages for the Leaders’ Summit. Furthermore, the DWG welcomed the decision of the Italian Presidency to organise, on the same day, a Joint Foreign Affairs and Development Ministerial Session on food security and a Ministerial Event on Humanitarian Assistance, which will be held in Brindisi, on 30 June.

Participants have also welcomed the setup of Thematic Groups to support the work on the deliverables. These groups will include experts from G20 delegations, invited countries, international and regional organisations, G20 engagement groups and will facilitate the dialogue with partner countries. The DWG will also prepare the 2021 Rome Annual Update which will serve as a roadmap to highlight the G20 contributions in 2021 to the 2030 Agenda.