Driven by commendable aspirations to move up the development ladder, Viet Nam is strongly committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. While the country is on the right track to achieve five out of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), it faces tremendous challenges to achieve the other 12 SDGs by 2030 due to many reasons including inadequate investments and resourcing for the goals. To support Viet Nam in accelerating progress towards SDG achievement, the United Nations (UN) in partnership with the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) of the Government of Viet Nam (GoV) has implemented 2021-2022, a joint programme named Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF). The INFF joint programme executed by UNDP, UNICEF and UN WOMEN together with the GoV’s line ministries aimed to enhance the mobilization and alignment of public and private financial resources for effective investments in the SDGs.
The INFF joint programme has delivered key development financing assessments and diagnostics and contributed to the country’s sectoral financing strategies. The joint programme has generated evidence-based findings and recommendations crucial for informing policy debates on SDG financing in various areas: fragmented public investments and their limited alignments with SDGs, lack of private investments in the SDG, constraints of capital market development, weaknesses of development banks, and SME financing. The joint programme has also provided substantive inputs to the formulation of the 2030 Finance Strategy with a focus on human capital development, and accountability of public investments through the government’s National Target Programmes (NTPs) in nutrition and rural water supply and sanitation. Moreover, the joint programme has raised awareness about gender mainstreaming in key national development policies and initiated capacity building on gender-responsive budgeting.
These achievements have formed the first basic building block of the integrated national financing framework that can inform the mobilization, allocation and tracking of financial resources required to achieve the SDGs. However, more work needs to be done to put in place a full-fledged and actionable INFF to accelerate the financing and achievement of the SDGs in Viet Nam. Other key building blocks, for example, financing strategy and governance arrangements, are yet unavailable.
The INFF joint programme has been implemented in a difficult context. As the new regulation on official development assistance management introduced in 2020 required a long approval process before the development programmes or projects could be undertaken, the commencement of the INFF joint programme implementation was delayed for nearly a year until June 2021. This was exacerbated by the COVID-19 situation in which strict mobility restrictions were imposed for most of the year 2021. Consequently, the INFF joint programme missed the opportunity to contribute to and shape key national development plans and strategies, including the Socio-Economic Development Plan 2021-2025 (SEDP) and Socio-Economic Development Strategy 2021-2030 (SEDS), which set strategic and operational directions to mobilize and allocate capital and financial resources to achieve national development goals and the SDGs.
What have we learned to enhance the implementation of initiatives on SDG financing?
First, align the initiatives with the national development plans, policies or strategies. This is vitally important to deliver changes in financing policy and programmes to realize the SDGs. As Viet Nam is undertaking the second Voluntary National Review (VNR) this year, it presents a crucial opportunity for the UN system to support the preparation of the VNR and follow-up actions, particularly initiatives around optimizing innovative and traditional financing for SDGs.
Second, ensure local ownership to facilitate internally driven change processes that make policy changes possible and sustainable. National ownership is key. The UN can help convene diverse stakeholders to support consensus-building and generate broad government buy-in.
Third, improve the design of joint programmes or similar initiatives to enhance the synergy and coherence of key partners. Co-designing solutions facilitate meaningful and relevant collaboration for financing the SDGs.
The Joint SDG Fund's joint programmes are under the prestige leadership of the Resident Coordinator Office and implementing United Nations Agencies. With sincere appreciation for the contributions from the European Union and Governments of Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and our private sector funding partners, for a transformative movement towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.