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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)

1. How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the priorities of your organization? 

The COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts will continue to be a major factor for the LDCs in the coming four years. UNCDF is building on experiences in providing financing and technical support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to adopt digital solutions and adjust their business models to survive the crisis, and to local governments to manage COVID-19 response and recovery, in line with the United Nations framework for the immediate socioeconomic response to COVID-19. Achieving Sustainable Development Goals 8 and 9 and building forward better for a sustainable, inclusive and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 crisis will require strengthened MSME sectors, including enabling them to benefit from digital transformation. UNCDF will scale up engagement with fintech firms and innovative digital platforms that link MSMEs to markets and suppliers, provide financial services, enhance skills and enable easier formalization. Remittances provide a critical source of income for many vulnerable population groups in the LDCs. However, remittances are often costly and have drastically declined due to the COVID-19 crisis. UNCDF will improve the flow of remittances through formal channels; reduce remittance transaction cost by increasing access to digital channels; and strengthen financial resilience through increased access to and adoption of migrant-centric credit, insurance, pension and investment products. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, the objectives of the Rio Conventions and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic requires localized approaches and transforming towns and cities into inclusive, resilient and sustainable growth centres. This is particularly the case in LDCs, which are among the world’s most rapidly urbanizing countries, but also holds true for urban centres in lower- and middle-income countries. UNCDF is reorienting its focus to be a technical and financial partner for local transformation. Clients will encompass local and regional governments, cities as agencies of local transformation, domestic capital market participants and regulatory and budgetary authorities. UNCDF combines finance and investment instruments with sector expertise across all aspects of subnational public and private finance. COVID-19 has led to a greater focus on building back better in terms of green, inclusive and resilient development with an increased focus on women’s economic empowerment, climate finance, biodiversity finance, clean energy finance, and food systems finance. For example, UNCDF will support the piloting and delivery of financing solutions for municipal and SME investments in food systems that advance food security, mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and help reduce the risk of future shocks to benefit the poorest, most vulnerable and those furthest behind.

2. In 2020/2021, how has your organization endeavored to support Member States to build back better from COVID-19 while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda? Please select up to three high-impact initiatives to highlight, especially those that address interlinkages among the SDGs. How has your organization cooperated with other UN system organizations in those efforts to achieve coherence and synergies?  

Name: Inclusive Digital Finance in ACP countries
Partners: (please list all partners) European Commission
Relevant SDGs SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 , 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17
Member States benefiting from the initiative: The joint action will be implemented in different countries in Africa (Gabon, Niger, Malawi and Ethiopia) as well as in the Caribbean (Trinidad and Tobago and Eastern Caribbean States) and in the Pacific region (Vanuatu, Samoa, Timor Leste, Tonga and Fiji).
Description: Mobile money is the provision of financial services through mobile technologies. It allows for the paying of bills and receiving money by the use of mobile apps. Mobile money also creates new opportunities for businesses and individuals as it grows in all regions of the world, both in urban and rural communities. Nevertheless, there is a long way to go as 1.7 billion adults remain unbanked, especially women and youth. This represents 46% of adults in the developing countries. Thanks to this EU funded initiative, UNCDF will support key policy reforms for digital transformation as well as create inclusive financial services tailored to the needs of women and youth, including innovative savings products and credit.


Name: Dual Key: Investing with impact
Partners: (please list all partners) UN-Habitat, UCLG
Relevant SDGs SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 , 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17
Member States benefiting from the initiative: LDCs and other developing countries
Description: The Dual Key is the centerpiece of UNCDF’s local economic development finance approach that leverages public and private finance to invest in local governments and SMEs supporting local infrastructure and development projects in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). The Dual Key System systematically 1) identifies and encourages productive and catalytic investments; 2) Strengthens investments to make them bankable and investment ready; 3) Unlocks access to domestic and international finance for SMEs and revenue generating investments, which have a transformative and measurable impact on the local economy. The Dual Key is at the centre of sourcing investments under the International Municipal Investment Fund (IMIF), a 350 million euros equity fund, created to support the Malaga Coalition – a global financial ecosystem built by UNCDF, the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and FMDV, to channel private sector finance from pension funds and other investors towards impactful projects sponsored by cities and local governments. UNCDF is managing the IMIF technical assistance facility and is also working with UN Habitat in developing a “fused” offering that will merge UN Habitat’s expertise in urban planning, its SDG cities initiative and its City Investment Facility (CIF) with UNCDF’s team of investment officers and support to the regulatory environment. This will bring the IMIF finance to the SDG cities and CIF.


Name: BUILD Fund
Partners: (please list all partners) Bamboo Capital Partners, FAO
Relevant SDGs SDGs 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 17 
Member States benefiting from the initiative: LDCs and other developing countries
Description: The Bamboo-UNCDF Initiative for the Least Developed Fund (the “BUILD Fund”) is an innovative impact finance vehicle designed to bring “missing middle” finance to small-and-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that have the potential for strong development impact in the world’s least developed countries (LDCs). The BUILD Fund is a partnership between UNCDF and Bamboo Capital Partners. Managed by Bamboo Capital Partners, the Fund provides growth capital to businesses identified, supported and nurtured by UNCDF. UNCDF’s own work is intended to build a pipeline of “bankable” SMEs and projects in LDCs, by taking them from “too small and too risky” to commercial viability and bankability. The BUILD Fund is complemented by the sidecar BUILD Enterprise Resource Technical Assistance Facility (the “BUILDER Technical Assistance Facility” or “BUILDER TAF”). Together, BUILD and BUILDER TAF constitute the first investment initiative to integrate the lessons learned from UNCDF’s past experiences to create a new, innovative approach for investments into SMEs in LDCs. In partnership with UNDP and FAO and with initial funding from the Joint SDG Fund, UNCDF has also established a sub-fund to the global BUILD Fund, the BUILD Malawi Fund—a structured blended finance vehicle that aims to mobilize US$35 million for investing into 50 businesses in Malawi in partnership with Bamboo Capital Partners (Fund manager to BUILD Malawi Fund). UNCDF serves as the investment advisor to the Fund and UNDP and FAO provide technical assistance to enterprises in the agriculture and other manufacturing sectors and service supply-chains. The Joint Programme will work to end poverty and hunger by increasing investment in agriculture and other manufacturing and service supply-chains, as well as increasing productivity within these supply-chains through technology and innovation; and achieving gender equality by supporting business where women are significantly represented in boards, management, staff, suppliers, or buyers. Targets for the programme include: 3,000 jobs (30% minimum for women and youth) created; 75,000 small-scale producers integrated into investees supply chains; participating small-scale producers’ income increased by 30%; expanded fiscal space with aggregated income taxes of $19.3 million; and 15 supply chains strengthened.


3. Has your organization published or is it planning to publish any analytical work or guidance note or toolkits to guide and support recovery efforts from COVID-19 while advancing SDG implementation at national, regional and global levels? Please select up to three high-impact resources to highlight, especially those that address interlinkages among the SDGs. 

Name: Blended Finance in the Least Developed Countries, 2020: Support A Resilient Covid-19 Recovery
Publishing entity: OECD Publishing, Paris,
Relevant SDGs SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
Target audience: Development finance providers and practitioners
Resource description: The LDCs are the furthest from achieving the SDGs. They are also likely to be hit the hardest by the COVID‑19 crisis and badly need the additional private finance that blended finance can unlock. Yet evidence shows that too little private finance is mobilized for investment in LDCs. How can this be fixed? The Blended Finance in the Least Developed Countries 2020 report is the third edition and second joint UNCDF‑OECD report. It builds on UNCDF research and transactional experience, OECD data and analysis on private finance mobilized by official development finance, and a series of consultations with and contributions by blended finance experts, LDC governments, UN missions, donors, civil society and research institutions. The report provides an update on the deployment of blended finance in LDCs. It also analyses its potential role in helping those countries recover from the COVID‑19 crisis, and provides an Action Agenda for unlocking capital for the achievement of the SDGs in LDCs, as called for in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
Language: English, French


Name: Inclusive Digital Economies for the SDGs
Publishing entity: UNCDF
Relevant SDGs SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
Target audience: Public and Private sector stakeholders involved in the digitalization of the economy of an LDC
Resource description: Digital innovations in the areas of energy, agriculture, health, education, and mobility are already transforming how people access and use a range of services, often riding on the digital finance rails. It offers new opportunities to transform the lives of marginalized populations, particularly women, youth, migrants, refugees/FDPs, MSMEs, disabled, and people living in rural areas. This paper lays out the promise of digital technology and associated innovations in driving the inclusion and advancement of vulnerable populations. Building inclusive digital economies addresses pressing development challenges; it harnesses digital transformation in an inclusive manner to reach people at the last mile, and accelerates progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  
Language: English  


Name: Guidance Note for Immediate Responses to the COVID-19 Recommended for Local Governments
Publishing entity: UNCDF
Relevant SDGs SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
Target audience: Local Governments
Resource description: This guidance note is about immediate responses to the COVID-19 recommended for local governments. It is advisory and generic and can be adapted to individual circumstances. It is focused on responses that can be implemented in days and weeks, rather than months and years. This fourth edition includes an expanded section on Operational Expenditure Block Grants to accelerate the local COVID-19 emergency response.
Language: English, French, Russian

Others include:

- Survey of SMEs in LDCs during COVID-19:

- Better than Cash Alliance report: Responsible Practices to Address Seven Major Risks in COVID-19 Digital Financial Transfers:…

- Better Than Cash Alliance COVID-19 Exclusion Working Group (Gender): Introduction and Strategic Enablers for Digital Payments :…

4. How has your organization engaged with stakeholder groups to support SDG implementation and COVID-19 recovery at national, regional and global levels? Please provide main highlights, including any lessons learned. If your organization has established multi-stakeholder partnerships in this regard, please describe them (objectives, partners involved, relevant SDGs, Member States benefiting from the partnership) and provide links to relevant websites, if applicable.

Name: Secretariat for UN Task Force on Digital Financing of the SDGs and co-chair of the Dialogue on Global Digital Finance
Partners: (please list all partners) UNDP, ABSA Group Ltd, Central Bank of Samoa, UNICEF, GSMA, DBS Group, EcoCash, Ant Group, IEX, Autonomous Research, UN DESA, UN Women, Souqalmal, Central Bank of Kenya, World Bank Group, World Economic Forum, Government of Benin
Relevant SDGs SDGs 17
Member States benefiting from the initiative: Global initiative benefiting all member states (including the 46 LDCs)

The Task Force on Digital Financing of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was established by the UN Secretary General to recommend and catalyse ways to harness digitalization in accelerating financing of the SDGs. During its investigations, the UN Secretary-General’s Task Force on Digital Financing of the SDGs recognized that digitalization is not only reshaping the world of finance; it is also driving the emergence of a new generation of global, dominant digital finance platforms (BigFintechs) with increasing cross-border spillover effects on many areas of sustainable development across the world, particularly in developing economies. The Dialogue on Global Digital Finance Governance, hosted by UNDP and UNCDF, was established to explore this topic with an aim to catalyze governance innovations that take greater account of the SDG impacts of BigFintechs and are more inclusive of the voices of developing nations. To this end, the Dialogue has produced the following series of Technical Papers that bring new, complementary perspectives on the nexus of BigFintechs, sustainable development and governance.


UN Task Force on Digital Financing of the SDGs; Dialogue on Global Digital Finance


Name: G7 Partnership for Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion in Africa 
Partners: (please list all partners) G7 and the Ministry of Finance of France
Relevant SDGs SDGs 5
Member States benefiting from the initiative: WAEMU and CEMAC countries

As an extension of its Africa Policy Accelerator project, the UNCDF Policy Accelerator will work with governments in Africa to accelerate the pace of regulatory and policy reforms that enable the meaningful use of digital financial services by women. We will: o Deliver technical assistance to promote women’s economic empowerment o Work with government partners to unlock digital financial policy reforms that directly impact women o Provide targeted advocacy focused on the basic regulatory enablers of digital financial services o Help keep the focus on the financial health of women and the specific economic barriers they face o Support governments in prioritizing the collecting sex-disaggregated data o Build capacity of francophone regulators to enable local and regional harmonization for women’s economic empowerment This project aligns with the regulatory pillar (Pillar #3) in the G7 Partnership for Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion in Africa.



Name: COVID-19 Remittances Call to Action
Partners: (please list all partners) UNCDF, UNDP, Government of Switzerland and the Government of the United Kingdom
Relevant SDGs SDGs 1, 17
Member States benefiting from the initiative: Global

The United Nations Capital Development Fund and the United Nations Development Programme have announced their joint support for a Member State-led initiative spearheaded by the Government of Switzerland and the Government of the United Kingdom to call on policymakers, regulators and remittance service providers to improve migrants’ access for sending and receiving remittances, and to reduce transfer costs during the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19 outbreaks


Financial Services for Migrants and Their Families…


Name: Malaga Global Coalition for Municipal Finance
Partners: (please list all partners) UNCDF, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG); city of Malaga, Global Fund for Cities Development (FMDV)
Relevant SDGs SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
Member States benefiting from the initiative:  

The Malaga Global Coalition for Municipal Finance was formed in 2018 as a response to the challenges faced by local and regional governments (LRGs) in accessing finance to advance sustainable and inclusive development in their territories. LRGs play a critical role in achieving the sustainable development agendas – including the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the New Urban Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement. Yet, many institutional, regulatory, technical and financial challenges prevent them from having effective control over the access to and management of their finances, severely restricting their ability to finance the implementation of these agendas and carry out their mandate. This is particularly true in developing and emerging countries, where lack of sufficient municipal financing is further exacerbated by the increased needs of a fast-growing urban population. Overcoming these barriers is vital for LRGs to be recognized as fully-fledged public actors, bringing about transformation and delivering services to their citizens, leaving no one behind. The International Municipal Investment Fund (IMIF), a 350 million Euros Equity fund, has been created as an instrument of this coalition. UNCDF is managing the technical assistance facility for this Fund.



5. In the 2019 SDG Summit declaration (GA Resolution 74/4), Member States outlined ten priority areas for accelerated action in SDG implementation. Please highlight any major integrated and innovative policies or initiatives that your organization may have adopted in these ten priority areas:

5.1 leaving no one behind

UNCDF Global Strategy: Leaving No One Behind in the Digital Era,

IDES the inclusive digital economies scorecard,

5.2 mobilizing adequate and well-directed financing

The BUILD Fund,;
International Municipal Investment Fund,;
Blue Peace Financing Initiative, Local Finance Initiative (LFI),Local%20Finance%20Ini…

5.4 strengthening institutions for more integrated solutions

UNCDF Policy Accelerator,

5.5 bolstering local action

Local Climate Adaptive Living Facility – LoCAL,

5.6 reducing disaster risk and building resilience

Pacific Insurance and Climate Adaptation Programme,

5.7 solving challenges through international cooperation and enhancing the global partnership

Malaga Coalition,

5.8 harnessing science, technology and innovation with a greater focus on digital transformation for sustainable development

UNCDF Global Strategy: Leaving No One Behind in the Digital Era,;
Inclusive Digital Economy Scorecard,;
Inclusive Digital Economies & Gender Playbook,

6. In the lead up to the 2023 HLPF to be held under the auspices of the General Assembly (or 2023 SDG Summit), please provide your organization’s recommendations on how to overcome challenges to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the achievement of the SDGs, taking into account the thematic reviews and voluntary national reviews conducted to date.

• Mobilization of SDG aligned finance o Further focus on collective action, especially for the LDCs and SDG aligned private sector investments, including through scaled up blended finance approaches

• Digital solutions to achieve the SDGs o Adopt inclusive digital economies as an overarching framework for accelerating SDG achievement o Increase investment in digital infrastructure for greater connectivity and to overcome exclusion o Put citizens at the centre of the digital revolution to finance the SDGs

• Greater focus on localizing the SDGs and strengthen capacities and the role of local governments to accelerate SDG progress o Build local fiscal space o Leverage financing mechanisms to increase capital flows for transformative financeable investments at the local level o Build effective partnerships for financing and managing local infrastructure assets

ECESA Plus Member
Year of submission: 2021