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Financing for Development: Billions to Trillions to Action

So, what have I learned so far? Let's see:

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Fist things first. What are these SDGs I'm talking about? Well, do you remember the MDGs, the Millennium Development Goals? In short, MDGs were a set of eight ambitious development goals agreed in the UN framework by the governments of all the world’s countries, together with and all the world’s leading development institutions and civil society partners. The target date for the MDGs was 2015 and, although a lot of progress has been made, it's true that much more work needs to be done, in order to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, to eliminate extreme poverty, or to ensure equal access to primary education for all girls and boys, to name a few.

The SDGs is a new set of goals, agreed this year, with 2030 being their target date. The SDGs form a much more ambitious set (17 goals!!!), yet, on my opinion, a much more realistic one, because they take into consideration an extremely important parameter: sustainability. Sustainability in all its three dimensions, i.e. environmental, social/communal/cultural, and economic/financial.

How to finance development

Official Development Assistance (ODA) is an important source of finance in a big number of developing countries. provides useful overviews and visualisations of the flows of ODA from donors to beneficiaries. Quite interestingly, some countries play both roles, as in some cases provide assistance and in some others receive.

The most important message, however, is that, although ODA is very important, the real potential lies  in the "sleeping" domestic financial resources, domestic resources that, through smart strategic movements and policies reforms can be mobilised in order to achieve what has been cleverly called "From Billions to Trillions [PDF]".

These strategic movements and policies reforms can include improvements in the investment environment of a given country (such as lower taxation for investments, better tax collection mechanisms, less bureaucracy for establishing a company, etc), Public-Partner Partnerships (PPPs), as well as involving the local communities and the civil society in the decision-making processes.

The role of civil society and youth

Despite the great role of private philanthropy in financing development, the role of civil society organisations, such as Non-Governemntal Organisations (NGOs) is equally important. In most cases funds aren't expected to be provided by these organisations, but they can raise awareness on specific needs which consequently can lead to fundraising. Also, they play quite often the local community and environment advocacy roles, thus completing the triangle of sustainability.

Youth organisations (including youth empowerment organisations and youth clubs), in particular, can have a great contribution towards that direction. Youth is the age of dreams and visions, but also the age of courage and action! Young people are the future of humanity, and their involvement in this process is critical, as they can feel the relevance of specific goals for their communities, and, through active participation, shape new realities for the world!!!