Remarks by Secretary Lew at the Plenary Session of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development

ADDIS ABABA – Mr. President of the Third Conference on Financing for Development, Mr. Secretary General,  Mr. President of the General Assembly, Honorable Heads of State and Government, Honorable Ministers, ladies and gentlemen.  I am pleased to be here in Africa to discuss the future of development finance, and I thank our Ethiopian hosts for their hospitality and leadership.

We gather together at an important moment in the global economy.  Here in Addis Ababa we have an opportunity to use the Financing for Development agenda to advance our shared commitment to broad based opportunity and prosperity.  We are committed to doing so by helping to mobilize the three streams of finance essential for sustainable development: domestic resources, official development assistance, and private investment.

Since we last gathered in Monterrey, we have a great deal of progress.  Over the last two decades, nearly 800 million people have risen out of extreme poverty.  Millions of people are alive today as a result of our emphasis on basic health care.  We have halved the number of hungry and those without access to safe drinking water.

Despite all that has been accomplished, much work remains, and going forward we need to use the three streams of development finance even more effectively.  Hundreds of millions remain mired in extreme poverty, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected states.    In too many places access to opportunity is not equally distributed. States that lack viable institutions with capacity and accountability to citizens remain a cause for concern.  The nexus of weak governance, corruption, and widespread suffering often allows extremism to take root, violent non-state actors to rise up, and conflict to overtake state structures.

Meeting the challenges of our shared ambitious agenda demands that we bring our respective resources, energy, and know-how to bear to create sustainable pathways out of poverty, improve inclusive and climate-friendly economic growth, mitigate conflict and fragility, and strengthen effective, participatory, and accountable governance.

Domestic resource mobilization is central to providing opportunity and vital to ensuring the sustainability of our efforts.  This is why the United States is joining with other countries in the Addis Ababa Tax Initiative.  We are committed to significantly increasing support for building effective revenue and expenditure systems, while also doubling the base resources for Treasury’s Office of Technical Assistance by 2020. We are also working with our African partners to fight the cross-border movement of proceeds from corruption and crimes, including through the Partnership on Illicit Finance.

Official development assistance – ODA – can and should also be used as a tool to build a foundation for transformation.  The United States is proud to have historically been the largest bilateral provider of ODA.  In 2014 alone, the United States committed a record high of nearly $33 billion out of $135 billion in worldwide ODA.  The United States is committed to focusing these resources in the areas where they are needed most and can yield the greatest impact.  We will strive to maintain our commitment, and encourage other countries to achieve this same objective.  Since 2009, the United States has spent on average approximately 50 percent of our ODA on least developed countries and fragile and conflict-affected states.

The United States is also committed to utilizing its assistance to mobilize private sector investment for development.  Since Monterrey, the United States has leveraged over $85 billion of private investment in developing and emerging economies.

And we know that ODA is most powerful when it is used to leverage and encourage increased investments by others. For example, when President Obama called on the world to launch a global food security initiative, he signaled our commitment by starting Feed the Future. The following year, the G-8 and other donors announced $22 billion in new agricultural development funding.

The private sector has and continues to be a key partner in this joint effort.  For example, in sub-Saharan Africa alone, total foreign direct investment rose from just $1.7 billion in 1990 to an all-time high of $42.4 billion last year.

In addition, we are increasingly working as a facilitator and catalyst for investment partnerships that involve the private sector.  Through Power Africa, the United States government has committed to providing more than $7 billion in financial support, loan guarantees, and technical assistance to increase power generation capacity and reliable access to electricity across sub-Saharan Africa.  In less than two years, this effort has leveraged more than $20 billion in commitments from private sector partners.

Beyond financing, the smart deployment of science, technology, and data can unlock billions in additional economic value, giving rise to entrepreneurial businesses, innovation, and improved, more-efficient services.  The United States is working to increase the quality of our own development-related data.  And we are pleased to be a founding member of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data that is being launched here in Addis Ababa.

Finally, women must be recognized as key drivers of economic growth.  Policies that unlock the economic potential of women can be major enablers of inclusive growth, boosting global GDP by as much as 12 percent and increasing the domestic resources available for investment in sustainable development.

We increasingly live in an interconnected world where our prosperity, peace, and security are linked.  We have achieved a great deal since the adoption of the MDGs and we are now positioned to move forward on new global objectives to address the challenges that lie ahead.   It is now more important than ever to tackle the Financing for Development agenda as a global community with a shared destiny.  We have achieved a strong and balanced outcome document through the last eight months of negotiations, which we can and should bring to closure. I encourage us to use the rest of our time in Addis to move to the next step – translating the Financing for Development policy framework into action that creates transformative change.

Through both financial and non-financial means, we can drive change that will put the world on a path to more equitable, more inclusive and more sustainable development.  As countries realize their full potential, self-sustainable growth is achievable, people can achieve their aspirations, and we, together, can deliver on a more peaceful and secure future for all.  Thank you.