Partnerships, development programs and SDG progress

The OPEC Fund’s Dr Walid Mehalaine emphasizes the “power of partnerships to drive development impact” at a recent event to inspire mobilization for the SDGs

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rogress on the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is not yet advancing at the speed or scale required. According to the UN, 2020 needs to ‘usher in a decade of ambitious action to deliver the goals by 2030’. A recent event, entitled ‘Mobilizing to Advance the SDGs,’ sought to drive momentum on this front by enabling and encouraging international development practitioners to exchange best practices and lessons learned in the field. The intimate evening, held in Vienna, was jointly hosted by the Delegation of the European Union to the International Organizations in Vienna, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens, the UN Joint SDG Fund and the OPEC Fund for International Development. Speaking as a panelist, OPEC Fund Head

of Grants and Technical Assistance Dr Walid Mehalaine emphasized the power of partnerships to drive development impact. “We have done so much, in so many places, with so many partners,” said Dr Mehalaine, explaining that since inception, the OPEC Fund has approved over US$25bn of development finance to more than 130 countries. “The countries we support are in the driving seat. We must continue to be responsive to their needs.” “Partnerships are central to our mandate,” added Dr Mehalaine, noting the bilateral and multilateral agencies that are essential to amplifying the OPEC Fund’s

development reach. These include the World Bank Group, regional development banks and specialized agencies of the United Nations, in addition to non-governmental organizations and private sector partners. Dr Mehalaine shared information on a number of development projects financed by the OPEC Fund that support the SDGs. One particular example has helped strengthen the agricultural value chain in Burundi, east-central Africa, and has made a significant cross-sector impact. “This program was designed not simply

to increase farmers’ yields, but to improve household incomes so that parents could send their children to school,” Dr Mehalaine said. “We helped to improve roads, not just for farmers to transport their goods to market, but so that people could get to schools and health centers.” Co-financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the program in Burundi benefited nearly 80,000 households – representing almost 400,000 individuals. Given that all 17 SDGs are interlinked, it is impossible to make progress on one global goal without impacting others. Dr Mehalaine explained the importance of designing development projects with this in mind. “The Burundi project supported SDG 1 on

‘no poverty’, SDG 2 on ‘zero hunger’, SDG 4 on ‘education’, SDG 9 on ‘industry, innovation and infrastructure’ and SDG 15 through the promotion of sustainable farming practices,” he said. “Infrastructure is a key enabler of

Dr Mona Ali Khalil, Founder and Director of MAK LAW International, and former Senior Legal Officer in the UN Office of the Legal Counsel.

socio-economic development, particularly in landlocked countries like Burundi, and especially in rural areas.” Dr Mehalaine also shared the examples of the

OPEC Fund’s partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) to support the elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission and with the WHO and others, including the Islamic Development Bank and Carter Center, in the fight against neglected tropical diseases. Dr Mona Ali Khalil, Founder and Director of MAK LAW International, and former Senior Legal Officer in the UN Office of the Legal Counsel, moderated the event. Dr Khalil likewise emphasized the essential role that partnerships play in mobilizing action for the SDGs – noting the effective relationship between the OPEC Fund and the United Nations. She called on all audience members to bring their respective organizations together to support the SDGs.

Other event panelists included Katrin Harvey, Chief Operating Officer of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens, and Gautam Babbar, UNODC Chief of Strategic Planning and Interagency Affairs at the United Nations. Event organizers were honored by the

participation of Former President of the Republic of Austria Dr Heinz Fischer, who introduced the evening’s discussions.

For more information, please see

PHOTO: OPEC Fund/Steve Hughes

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