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Over the last 13 years, women’s rights and feminist organizations have actively engaged in the Financing for Development (FfD) process, and 2015 is a particularly important year. 

Find here some background information and follow the timeline below to better understand the history of the UN financing for development process and how it has unfolded since the first international conference on FfD held in Monterrey in 2002, including the most recent developments since October 2014.

Visit our Special Focus Section on Financing for Development

What is the United Nations Financing For Development Process?

The United Nations (UN) Financing for Development (FfD) process seeks to address different forms of development financing and cooperation. As per the Monterrey Consensus it focuses on six key areas:

  • Mobilizing domestic financial resources for development
  • Mobilizing international resources for development: foreign direct investment and other private flows
  • International trade as an engine for development
  • Increasing international financial and technical cooperation for development
  • External debt
  • Addressing systemic issues: enhancing the coherence and consistency of the international monetary, financial and trading systems in support of development. 

What is at stake for women’s rights?

Development financing has specific threats and opportunities for women's and all people’s human rights. Transformative development financing and policies can make an important contribution to the systemic changes that are needed to ensure the respect, protection and fulfillment of women’s human rights.

2015 is an important year for the FfD process. The Third International Conference on FfD took place from 13-16 July 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and governments are finalising the post-2015 development agenda including agreements on how the new Sustainable Development Goals will be financed

The current stage of the FfD process is an important opportunity to establish a financing framework that will ensure effective financing for the implementation of the post 2015 agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is also an opportunity to address the structural conditions, and systemic changes needed, for the full implementation of other agendas and commitments such as Human Rights Conventions, and the Beijing Platform for Action.

Over the last 13 years, women’s rights and feminist organizations have actively engaged in the FfD process.

What are some of the debates and conflict areas?

2002: Discussions on the Financing for Development agenda begin

The Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development marked the beginning of discussions on the Financing for Development agenda.

  • The Monterrey Consensus was adopted at this first international conference on Financing for Development. It was the first United Nations hosted summit-level meeting to address key financial and related issues on global development.
  • The Conference and its preparatory process saw unprecedented cooperation between the United Nations and the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) as part of efforts to promote greater coherence and consistency among the international monetary, trade and financial systems and institutions.
  • Monterrey also marked the first time that financing for development debates took place between governments, representatives of civil society and the business sector. These actors moved the discussion beyond a ‘technical’ focus, to look at how to mobilize and channel financial resources to fulfill the internationally agreed development goals of previous UN conferences and summits of the 1990s, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
  • The Women’s Caucus noted the historical significance of the conference stating that it had the potential to address structural challenges that continue to hamper development but also raised concern over the effects of increased militarisation and fundamentalism on women, despite the fact that the Monterrey Consensus assumed that the global economic and financial system worked for all.
  • Learn more about the six Monterrey themes and the conference follow up mechanisms: Gender Issues and Concerns in Financing for Development by Maria Floro, Nilufer Çagatay, John Willoughby and Korkut Ertürk (INSTRAW, 2004) 

2003: First High-level Dialogue is held

First High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development, 29-30 October 2003

One of the follow up mechanisms to the Monterrey conference are the UN General Assembly High-level Dialogues on Financing for Development held every two years. In total eight roundtable meetings took place following the Dialogue on various issues including agricultural subsidies, trade, debt relief and funding of the MDGs. All the discussions focused on dealing with the structural hindrances on these issues that disadvantaged ‘developing’ nations.

Other follow up mechanisms to Monterrey included:

  • The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) special high-level meeting, held annually, with the leadership of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and UNCTAD on the follow-up to the Monterrey Consensus. ECOSOC also devotes up to two days to deliberate the FfD agenda item during its substantive session.
  • Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, the specialized United Nations tax body, addresses the various tax policy issues identified in the Monterrey Consensus and provides a framework for dialogue with a view to enhancing and promoting international tax cooperation among national tax authorities. 

2005: Second High-level Dialogue takes place

Second High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development

  • The overall theme of the Second High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development, from 27-28 June 2005 was The Monterrey Consensus: status of implementation and tasks ahead. 
  • Apart from the traditional six roundtables on each of the individual chapters of the Monterrey Consensus, there was an informal interactive dialogue with the participation of a range of stakeholders including women’s rights groups.  
  • There was a call from ‘developing’ nations that global challenges and local needs and possibilities be taken into account when interacting with different groups including women, youth, people with disabilities etc. on the themes identified in the Monterrey consensus.  

2007: CSO engagement rises with the creation of the WWG on FfD

The Women’s Working Group on Financing for Development (WWG on FfD), an alliance of women’s rights organizations and networks, was launched in October 2007 to advocate for the advancement of gender equality, women’s empowerment and human rights in the FfD related UN processes.  

  • The Third High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development, 23-25 October 2007 saw an upsurge in civil society participation. Aside from the six round table sessions, there were hearings for civil society and the business sector.
  • AWID delivered a statement at the plenary on behalf of Civil Society calling for governments to give greater attention to the importance of women’s rights organizations as agents of development, and the need to promote new mechanisms for financing for women in developing and least developed countries. The statement urged governments to give greater support to gender architecture in the United Nations so that the system as a whole could make progress in terms of its commitment to gender equality, women’s empowerment and human rights, including the economic, social, cultural and environmental rights of all persons. 

2008: The Doha International Conference takes place with limited achievements

Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development, Doha, Qatar

2009: The UN holds Conference on the impact of the economic crisis

2009 UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impacts on Development

  • The 2009 conference was an outcome of the 2008 Doha conference. The Doha Declaration had mandated that the United Nations hold a conference, to be organized by the President of the General Assembly, on the world financial and economic crisis and its impact on development.
  • During the conference women’s groups, through the WWG, highlighted the impact of the global financial crisis on vulnerable groups. In their statement to the members, the WWG proposed necessary actions to be taken by member states to redress the effects of the crisis to women. They stated that other social groups affected by the crisis are key to a response that is harmonized with international standards and commitments to gender equality, women’s rights and human rights and empowerment. 

2010: The fourth High-level Dialogue is held

The theme of the Fourth High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development, 23-24 March 2010: The Monterrey Consensus and Doha Declaration on Financing for Development: status of implementation and tasks ahead. It had four round tables on: the reform of the international monetary and financial systems; impact of the financial crisis on foreign direct investments; international trade and private flows; and the role of financial and technical development cooperation, including innovative sources of development finance, in leveraging the mobilization of domestic and international financial resources for development.

There was also the informal interactive dialogue involving various stakeholders that focused on the link between financing for development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. 

2011: The fifth High-level dialogue kick starts Post-2015 discussions

The Fifth High- Level Dialogue on Financing for Development, 7 – 8 December 2011, marked the beginning of the Post 2015 development agenda discussions, and the link to financing for development. The conference gave a special focus to increasing aid to finance the MDG’s. In his closing remarks, the Secretary General called on members to begin to consider the post-2015 development framework. 

2013: The sixth High-level Dialogue reviews progress of MDGs

The Sixth High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development, 7-8 October 2013 focused on reviewing the progress of MDG’s, and identifying gaps to be addressed in discussions on the new development framework.

A report by the MDG’s Gap Task Force launched during the session pointed to the failure to meet MDG 8 (Global Partnership for Development) as a major factor in the challenges to meeting the MDGs. The report showed that more focus should be given to developing stronger global partnerships that would ensure binding commitments for the new development framework post 2015. 

2014: Intergovernmental preparatory process for the 3rd FfD Conference is launched

Launch of the Intergovernmental preparatory process for the 3rd Financing for Development Conference, October 2014

  • A preparatory process, co-facilitated by Ambassador George Wilfred Talbot of Guyana and Ambassador Geir O. Pedersen of Norway, was put in place to lead discussions ahead of the 3rd FfD conference to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July 2015.
  • As part of the preparations, two rounds of substantive informal sessions were held at the UN headquarters in New York to provide input to the drafting sessions of the outcome document.
  • The WWG on FfD was re-activated with the aim of bringing feminist and women’s rights perspectives to the discussions and deliberations ahead of and during the 3rd International FfD Conference. AWID, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) and the Feminist Task Force (FTF) are currently acting as co-facilitators of the group.
  • The WWG on FfD’s submitted two oral statements during the first round, and written input to the second round of substantive informal sessions, which highlighted that gender inequality was not visible, nor was the inclusion of other types of discrimination and inequalities. The WWG’s submission highlights gender power relations and the intersections with other categories such as race, disability, ethnicity, age, wealth and sexual identity, which underpin the unequal distribution of opportunities and resources in societies around the world.
  • Civil society organizations raised concerns about the space for their engagement in the two substantive informal sessions, including the risk that civil society space to engage in negotiations on the outcome document in January 2015 might be constricted. 

January 2015: 1st drafting session on the outcome document for the 3rd FfD Conference

The 1st drafting session on the outcome document for the 3rd Financing for Development Conference

  • In January 2015 a series of drafting sessions towards the final outcome document started at UN headquarters in New York.
  • Prior to the first drafting session the co-facilitators of the Addis conference preparatory process presented an elements paper for the so-called “zero-draft” outcome document, as the basis for the intergovernmental negotiations of the outcome document.
  • During the sessions, women’s rights organisations emphasised the need to treat the FfD and means of implementations (MOI) under the post 2015 processes separately, because FfD provides a unique opportunity for states to address the structural causes of inequality

March 2015: The Zero-Draft Outcome Document is released

Release of the Zero-Draft Outcome Document, March 2015

  • The zero-draft outcome document (dated 16 March), prepared by the Co-facilitators, was released for discussion at the 2nd drafting session from 13-17 April 2015
  • During the opening session, the WWG on FfD called for dedicated resources for gender equality and women’s empowerment as stated in both the Monterrey Consensus and Doha Declaration,to be added into the Zero draft. 

April 2015: Interactive hearings with the business sector and civil society take place

Informal interactive hearings with the business sector and civil society took place on 8 and 9 April 2015 respectively at UN headquarters in New York.

  • Women’s rights organizations and other CSOs raised concern about the limited participation of Member States during the CSO hearings and thus the Addis Ababa CSO Coordinating Group (ACG) issued a letter to the Co-facilitators
  • The second drafting session of the Addis Ababa outcome document was held from 13 – 17 April 2015 at the UN Headquarters. The basis of discussion was the Zero Draft.
  • The WWG on FfD presented recommendations on the FfD themes to Member States in different official sessions and side events. Among the key areas of concern for women was the fact that the zero draft did not give sufficient emphasis to the enormous, negative impacts of financial crises caused by instability in international financial systems on development, equality and human rights, particularly women’s human rights.

May 2015: Consultations on the Draft Outcome document are held

Additional consultation sessions on the Draft Outcome Document

  • On 7 May, the revised outcome document for the 3rd FfD conference in Addis was released by the co-facilitators
  • In support of continued progress on the Outcome Document, ad hoc additional sessions for consultations on the Draft Outcome Document took place from 12-15 May 2015 and 26-29 May 2015 at UN headquarters in New York

June 2015

Further drafting sessions on the Addis Ababa outcome document

Learn more from the CSO Hitchhiker’s Guide

July 2015

Women's Forum on Financing for Gender Equality

  • The Forum took place on 10 July 2015 in Addis Ababa and convened feminists, grassroots women, gender advocates, academics and representatives of women’s rights organizations/networks with specific inputs by UN representatives and other policy makers.
  • The objectives of the Women's Forum were to: share information on the state of play in the latest FfD negotiations; jointly analyze the FfD panorama and follow-up; build a common women’s rights positioning; and strategize on how to meaningfully and substantively engage from a feminist perspective at the Addis FfD Conference.
  • The Women's Forum was organized by the Women's Working Group on FfD, in collaboration with FEMNET, African Women's Development Fund (AWDF) and the Post 2015 Women's Coalition with support from UN Women.
  • Read the Women's Working Group reaction to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda

CSO FfD Forum

  • The CSO FfD Forum took place in Addis Ababa on 11-12 July 2015 and aimed to: inform participating CSOs on the state of play of the official process and coordinate civil society participation in the 3rd FfD Conference; develop a collective CSO Forum Declaration as well as the CSO messages for the FfD Conference Roundtables, the CSO FfD Group-led side events and any other opportunities that might emerge; and plan and organize future areas of CSO engagement on Financing for Development, beyond the 3rd FfD Conference.
  • Read the Declaration from the Addis Ababa Civil Society Forum on Financing for Development
  • For more information, please visit the CSO FfD Group's website or contact the Addis Ababa CSO Coordinating Group (addiscoordinatinggroup@gmail.com).

The Third UN International Conference on Financing for Development

  • The third Conference on Financing For Development took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 13-16 July 2015 and focused on: assessing the progress made in the implementation of the 2002 Monterrey Consensus and the 2008 Doha Declaration; addressing new and emerging issues, including in the context of the recent multilateral efforts to promote international development cooperation. Taking into account: the current evolving development cooperation landscape; the interrelationship of all sources of development finance; the synergies between financing objectives across the three dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental); and the need to support the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015; and reinvigorating and strengthening the financing for development follow-up process.
  • The Addis Ababa Action Agenda was adopted on 15 July 2015 by Heads of State, Governments and High Representatives at the UN.
  • The feeling however from developing countries, CSOs and more specifically women's organisations was that the Addis Ababa Action Agenda failed to meet the target. The Women's Working Group expressed its strong disappointment and demanded structural changes in the global economic governance and development architecture. Read their reaction to the outcome document. Hundreds of civil society organizations and networks from around the world also expressed deep concerns and reservations. Read their response to the outcome document.