We must not set our sights too low for financing the SDGs

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The recent draft of the outcome document for the Addis Ababa Financing for Development Conference said that, by 2025, public spending must reach US$300 per person or 10% of national income to provide an essential basket of public services, ranging from all that is necessary to eradicate poverty and hunger, to access affordable energy and achieve the health and education targets. When compared to the estimates the GMR team made this month for achieving the education targets, this figure is worryingly low, and underestimates the resources needed to reach our ambitions by 2030.

The UN Millennium Project in 2003 estimated that a minimum of US120-140 per person was needed to achieve the MDGs related to social sectors. This was in 2003 prices, and works out around the same amount as the newly configured US$300 per person for achieving sustainable development for all. But, surely a more ambitious agenda such as is outlined in the SDGs calls for more resources?

From education’s perspective, we want all children to have access to at least one year of pre-school and several years of secondary education, and that costs money. We need a greater emphasis on quality and learning than has been the case since 2000. We also need to address equity concerns, so that the marginalized gain access to education, and this requires additional resources. Our own estimates are that implementing equitable education interventions, for instance, increase per-student costs by 30%. In short the amount per person for education should be far more than was estimated as needed in 2003.

There currently exists no finance target in the sustainable development agenda, which is of concern if we are hoping to hold donors and governments to account post-2015. It is therefore commendable for the Committee to begin the conversation about what figure governments should commit to.

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