The cost of funding the Post-2015 Development Agenda is estimated to be trillions of dollars a year.1 While this magnitude may seem dizzying, especially for low-income countries with over-stretched public budgets and donor countries facing economic uncertainties, the financial resources required are in fact available.2 It is a matter of setting the right priorities, ensuring equitable distribution, and avoiding the mistakes and omissions of the past. And while the questions abounding are ‘who will pay and how?’, research shows the high rewards from smart investments in key areas. Meanwhile, the costs of inaction far outweigh the resources required to make sustainable, people-centered development and a healthy planet a reality.
What are ‘smart investments’? In the context of this paper, smart investments are those that put people first and prioritize those most in need, address the global challenges that perpetuate inequalities affecting billions around the world, and have high-payoffs for improved well-being and quality of life, poverty eradication, economic growth and sustainable development, with multiplier and inter-generational effects that will yield benefits for decades to come. This brief lays out compelling data demonstrating the tremendous benefits all countries stand to gain by devoting increased resources to four key areas, with a focus on the economic and financial costs of inaction as well as the benefits and returns on investments.
Costs of Inaction: The international community stands to pay a high price if ‘business as usual’ continues on how the Post-2015 Development Agenda will be implemented and funded. The costs of not taking action on pressing, inter-related challenges are grave – including tackling the dramatic and increasing inequalities within and among countries, effectively addressing climate change and reducing unsustainable consumption and production, or achieving gender equality, fulfilling the human rights of women and girls, adolescents and youth, and realizing sexual and reproductive health and rights for all – the focus of this brief. Continued inertia on these critical issues means that poverty eradication efforts will be undermined, inequalities perpetuated, economic growth dampened, and countries will miss out on a vast source of human capital needed to take sustainable development forward in the 21st century.
Key Smart Investments
1. Achieving gender equality and the human rights and empowerment of all women and girls.
2. Achieving sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, including through universal access to quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health information, education and services.
3. Preventing and responding to gender-based violence against women and girls.
4. Advancing the rights, participation, and development of adolescents and youth, especially girls education, delayed marriage and childbearing, and comprehensive sexuality education.