Shining light or risky business? A review of UN guidance on INFFs

Countries in the Global South face a dire economic situation already on the sharp end of the climate emergency, they now face compounding shocks from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and spill-overs from geopolitical instability, including the war in Ukraine. It is estimated that the cumulative effect of these crises could push an additional 263 million people into extreme poverty this year.

Against this dark backdrop, Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF) – an approach by which countries can put together strategies for financing their national ‘sustainable development’ priorities – have been said to offer a “shining light.”

Titled Shining light or risky business? A critical review of the UN’s guidance on Integrated National Financing Frameworks, this paper casts doubt as to whether, in their current form, INFFs can really live up to this claim or whether their “light” may be leading countries in risky directions whilst distracting from the fundamental structural solutions that are really needed to achieve economic justice in the Global South. It highlights three main areas of concern regarding how these Frameworks are promoted and implemented:

  • INFFs may distract attention in global policy processes away from wider economic justice imperatives
  • they erode local peoples’ ownership of the financing strategies that affect their lives
  • they may be encouraging countries to favour risky reforms.

There is no doubt that in such dark economic times, “shining lights” are sorely needed. But the analysis in this paper suggests that INFFs, as they are currently promoted and implemented, are at best a false dawn – and at worst risk intensifying the darkness. The further promotion of the INFFs is problematic until the key concerns paper are resolved. This would mean:

  • changing the discourse on the role of INFFs in Financing for Development
  • a central role for representative civil society organisations and peoples’ movements
  • enabling free choices on whether and how to implement INFFs
  • rebalancing INFF policy options away from risky reforms.

This CPDE paper, situated within the current global challenges, follows the paper published in July 2021,“Ambition and concerns: An overview of the INFF. It is based on a detailed desk review of the INFF guidance documents published by the United Nations (UN) Department for Economic and Social Affairs, together with other documents from the UN Financing for Development process and from international stakeholders playing a prominent role in the INFF process. The key findings were discussed in an official side event to the UN High Level Political Forum in July 2022.

Watch the event on INFF below:

CPDE is grateful for Polly Meeks’ leadership on this report and would like to thank the CSO colleagues and expert practitioners that provided suggestions and comments. This CPDE project was coordinated by Luca De Fraia for the ICSO Sector.#

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