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25th Jan 2021

EU Africa chief: UN goals will not be met by aid alone

  • Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia, one of the least developed countries in the world (Photo: EUobserver)

Poor nations will largely be on their own to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - because there will not be enough money even if wealthy states like those in the EU meet aid targets.

The statement, made on Friday (22 November) by the EU's ambassador to the African Union Ranier Sabatucci, follows a recent study suggesting a core group of the world's poorest nations have received less than 10 percent of EU aid.

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It also marks a reality check on how far behind EU states as a whole are in meeting the UN's target of spending 0.7 percent of gross national income on aid by 2030.

"Let's be clear, we are not going to achieve the SDGs because we get to the 0.7 percent. If anybody here feels that with 0.7 percent we will achieve the SDGs, I'll tell you to think again. What we need is ten times that but you don't need it as aid, you need it as financial flows," he said.

The SDGs are billed as a blueprint to tackle over a dozen areas like reducing poverty, fighting hunger and climate change over the next ten years.

Only Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden and UK have so far met the 0.7 percent commitment. Other EU states like Austria and Italy have dropped their contributions by 10 percent.

Large injections of financial flows will have to instead top up the aid, some of which will have to be generated by the poor countries themselves, says Sabatucci.

"There is a perfectly strong understanding, conviction in Africa, that resource mobilisation starts at home and aid is there to facilitate additional financial flows to reach the SDGs," he said.

Sabatucci's comments were made to a group of mostly African journalists in Ethiopia's capital city Addis Ababa.

It also points to a broader shift of an EU that seeks to instead shore up private investments and press the continent to create an intra-African free trade zone.

Part of that shift is hinged on the EU's 2017 external investment plan that seeks to leverage over €40bn of private investments by next year. Only a fraction has so far been raised.

The whole comes on the heels of a study by the European NGO network, Concord, that shows that at its current rate, the EU bloc will need another 40 years to meet the GNI spending target set by the UN.

"There is dramatic evidence that those most in need of resources currently receive only eight percent of EU aid," notes the report in reference to some 16 countries.

The EU is by far the world's largest donor, investing almost €72bn in official development assistance in 2018.

The figure represents over half of global efforts but also, in absolute terms, is a reduction by almost six percent when compared to 2017.

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