The Financing for Sustainable Development Report 2021 warned of a lost decade of development due to setbacks resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the challenges stemming from a global financial and policy architecture in dire need of reform in order to support a resilient post-COVID recovery and advance the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) agenda.
While the current decade is recognized as the Decade of Action for implementation of the SDGs, the next 10 years may also signify the last best chance for the global community to achieve the goal of delivering sustainable development where it is needed the most—notably the world’s 46 least developed countries—to truly leave no one behind.
Delivering the flows of finance as well as the various kinds of finance—concessional and commercial—to support SDG achievement in the last mile ultimately requires innovation and partnership, which are precisely the key elements that have made the first five years of the Last Mile Finance Trust Fund (LMF-TF) so impactful and promising.
At the center of the LMF-TF is the ethos of innovation that defines the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF). As the UN flagship agency for LDC finance, UNCDF has distinct expertise around innovating and testing new models of finance, while de-risking investments and catalyzing follow-on finance. This is the kind of innovation that has benefitted from the powerful support of the LMF-TF.
Because of the innovation that the LMF-TF has supported, the Fund has dramatically enhanced its partnership development over the five years of its existence; expanding from its anchor investor (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency or Sida) to a community of eight donor/partners. Not only have we increased the partner base, but the LMF-TF is pooling the resources of partners towards shared development themes and products, which was one of the defining aspirations of
Of course, this speaks to the mutually reinforcing power of the LMF-TF, the innovation that the fund supports attracts more partners, which enables UNCDF to execute more innovations in last mile markets—markets that have been historically underserved by the global financial and policy architecture.
Perhaps the greatest importance of the LMF-TF is that it represents a solution to one of the critical challenges of our time: how to harness the untapped growth potential of the LDCs. The LMF-TF provides a vision for such a solution—a solution that can finance innovation while catalyzing partnerships and resources towards the areas where development needs are greatest.