Outcome of the 3rd Conference on Financing for Development, Addis Ababa, 13-16 July 2015

By Paola Simonetti, TUDCN Coordinator

The 3rd Conference on Financing for Development (FFD3) ended with the adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA). Trade Unions engaged since the beginning in the Financing for Development process (FFD), which touches upon various issues that are crucial for the trade union agenda on development.

The TU delegation was headed by ITUC Deputy General Secretary Wellington Chibebe and was formed by Maresa Le Roux (CGSLB, Belgium), Caroline Khamati Mugala (EATUC, Tanzania), Hilma Mote, Kouglo Lawson Body and Joel Akhator Odigie from ITUC Africa, Marita González (CGT, Argentina), Giulia Massobrio (CSA-TUCA), Rekson Silaban (KSBSI, Indonesia), Haridasan Parayarikkal (ITUC-AP), Julius Cainglet (FFW, Philippines) and Paola Simonetti, Matt Simonds, Georgios Altintzis and Joan Lanfranco, from ITUC-TUDCN. The Global Union Federations (GUFs) were also present in Addis Ababa. From PSI: General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli and Head of Campaigns Sandra Vermuyten, as well as Jocélio Drummond, Regional Secretary for Interamerica. Antonia Wulff represented Education International.

© Julius Cainglet

The TU delegation provided important contributions during both the CSO forum on 10-12 July, whose final declaration mirrors the main trade union priorities, and during the official conference, specifically in its many round tables and side events, covering a broad agenda: private finance, trade, taxation, systemic issues, domestic resources, among other.

Thanks to our engagement, the trade union movement’s positions have gained visibility vis-à-vis high-level governmental institutions and civil society actors. In particular, our messages on decent work, social protection, social dialogue and business accountability have been highlighted within the whole of civil society demands.

An unambitious agenda

Unfortunately, the AAAA resulted in a far from exciting text, lacking commitments and concrete implementation modalities. The "fil rouge" throughout the text seems centred on the primary importance of foreign direct investment (FDI) and its support modalities, instead of addressing the “how to” foster sustainable industrialisation paths and employment policies based on decent work and job creation.

The uncritical stand on innovative financing as “blending” and “public private partnerships (PPPs)” corroborates this approach. Moreover, the AAAA ignores inequality within and among countries, in contrast to the increased recognition of the dimension of this problem, including the insertion of a goal on inequality in the Post-2015 agenda. Finally, the AAAA achieves little in terms of identifiable and concrete commitment, especially in the areas of trade and systemic issues.

Read the Trade Union reaction to the FFD3 AAAA outcome. Versión en español. Version française.
Read the CSO response to the FFD3 AAAA.

The last contentious issues that have been subject of “last turn” negotiations were:

What are the gains?

Notwithstanding the overall weakness of the AAAA outcomes, we shall notice specific points that are of crucial importance for trade unions. These are:

  • The area of "social protection and essential public services for all" was identified as one of the seven core cross-cutting areas relevant both to the Post-2015 sustainable development agenda and FFD in which synergies can be explored. The AAAA foresees commitment to “fiscally sustainable and nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors”, and call for strong international support, including by exploring “coherent funding modalities to mobilize additional resources building, on country-led experiences”(§12);
  • “Full and productive employment and decent work for all” including the promotion of MSMEs is also one of the seven crosscutting areas. Very positive is the commitment to operationalize by 2020 a “global strategy for youth employment and implementing the ILO Jobs Pact” (§16).
  • Although it is regrettable that the important linkages between decent work and social protection systems and domestic resource mobilization were not recognized (including the reference to the ILO Convention 102 and Recommendation 202), the fact that these have been included among the 7 areas can be considered already an achievement. The language is clearly stronger than the previous outcomes (Monterrey and Doha) and aligned with the SDG target 1.3.

Finally, if §37 refers directly to the ILO labour standards when talking about “well-functioning business sector”, unfortunately the same para also states that countries will be deciding “on the appropriate balance of voluntary and mandatory rules”. Therefore it starts by stating something good but then it contradicts itself from the point of view of binding commitments.

Photo galleries

Further reading

TUDCN Addis Ababa FFD3 updates:

TUC blog "World conference on funding development: much ado about little"

Statements by CSOs: