14 APRIL 2021 – Over 170 government officials, development cooperation partners and civil society members met virtually to share early lessons from the design and implementation of Integrated National Financing Frameworks (INFFs).
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the European Union held the virtual event on the sidelines of the 2021 United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Forum on Financing for Development.
Mobilising resources, both domestic and global, to support sustainable development remains a challenge for many developing countries. The economic impact of Covid-19 has made this even harder.
INFFs can strengthen recovery from the pandemic and regain progress toward the SDGs by helping countries better mobilise financing, manage risks and coordinate investments.
INFF momentum is growing. More than 70 countries have started INFF development and implementation. Over half have formalised or are in the process of formalising INFF oversight committees. G20 member countries and international financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund, are engaging with INFF partners and participants at the global and country level.
The April event also marked the launch of the INFF Knowledge Platform, a digital space for INFF partners to gather and share all INFF-related knowledge, lessons, resources and tools.
Fundamentally, the success of national financing frameworks will hinge on multi-stakeholder collaboration and the commitment of leaders, policymakers and technical administrators across sectors and levels of governance. One of the strengths of an INFF, explained Erica Gerretsen, Acting Director for Sustainable Finance, Investment and Jobs, Economy that works for the People, at the European Commission, is that it creates a framework for dialogue between government, private sector, civil society and development partners.
In Ghana, the government has adopted a bottom-up approach for securing buy-in and rolling out the INFF process. ‘We wanted to start small and scale up,” said Nana Yaw Yankah during the virtual event. Mr Yankah is a chief economist at Ghana’s Ministry of Finance.
Ghana’s government decided to pioneer the INFF process because of its need to bring together all financing policies to address the country’s financing challenges, explained Mr Yankah. The INFF provided the government with a comprehensive framework to mobilise a broad range of resources and better manage and monitor existing financial flows.
Ghana believes in decentralisation. Instead of developing a financing framework at the national level and scaling down, the country started its INFF process at the district level. Currently, five districts are piloting Integrated Assembly Financing Frameworks (IAFF). Mr. Yankah explained how the plan is to scale up the approach and support all 255 district assemblies to replicate the process. These sub-national financing frameworks will form the foundation of the INFF.
This bottom-up approach relies on leadership and ownership at the local level. “District government officials need to own the process so that they can implement it going forward,” said Mr Yankah. “That’s why they are leading the process.”
Once each district develops an IAFF, the national government, led by the Ministry of Finance, will aggregate the frameworks to form an INFF at the national level. The success of the INFF in Ghana is underpinned by backing from its finance minister and support from lead implementation partner, UNDP.
During the discussion, panellists agreed that INFFs should be complemented by strong partnerships and actions at the global level. The next steps include finalising the INFF methodology and drawing out lessons and experiences from early INFF implementation to support other countries. The INFF Knowledge Platform and INFF dashboard will play a central role in this effort.
In closing, Navid Hanif, Director of Financing for Sustainable Development Office at UN DESA, emphasised the long-term horizon of an INFF. “When we analysed the national development strategies presented at the High-Level Political Forum more than three years ago, more than 70% had no financing strategies,” said Mr Hanif. “It was an aspirational goal.”
INFFs are a very concrete step in the right direction, putting governments in the driver’s seat. Governments are using INFFs as a “docking station” to explore hundreds of innovations across public and private finance. Today, over 58 countries are developing new or strengthening existing financing strategies. “The INFF is not an endpoint; it is a process. INFFs will serve as a platform for financing the SDGs in the years to come.”