Feature story

Innovative financing for development the goal of new I-8 Group

20 May 2009

UN Secretary-General UN Secretary-General is in Geneva this weeking attending the World Health Assembly. Credit: WHO

As global economic slowdown threatens to negatively affect those already most vulnerable to poverty, the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) around the world will require a change of scale in the implementation of innovative financing mechanisms for development.

To address this challenge, Dr Philippe Douste-Blazy, Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations in charge of Innovative Financing, proposed the creation of a group which brings together eight finance initiatives, United Nations agencies and representatives of civil society.

The I-8 Group for the Millennium Development Goals held its first meeting in Geneva on 19 May 2009. The Secretary-General of the United Nations Mr Ban Ki-moon addressed the opening session, as did Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Mr Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS.

We urgently need to strengthen and scale up existing innovative mechanisms, and explore new ones. This meeting will create a regular network of consultation, coordination and mutual reinforcement among innovative financing efforts worldwide.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon

The current economic crisis, according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, makes innovative financing all the more important.

“We urgently need to strengthen and scale up existing innovative mechanisms, and explore new ones,” said the Secretary-General in his opening remarks. “This meeting will create a regular network of consultation, coordination and mutual reinforcement among innovative financing efforts worldwide.”

If we are going to reach the Millennium Development Goals, we must avoid duplication, resist competition, and put people at the centre

Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS

Mr Michel Sidibé spoke of how the I-8 or "innovative eight" could help bridge the gap between development needs and resources committed and build a more just, equitable and healthy world. He also reminded participants of the human aspect of the challenge: “If we are going to reach the Millennium Development Goals, we must avoid duplication, resist competition, and put people at the centre,” said Mr Sidibé.

A panel discussion on innovative financing mechanisms was moderated by Dr Patrice Debré, French Ambassador for the fight against HIV/AIDS and communicable diseases at the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.

The I-8 Group for the Millennium Development Goals includes the following finance mechanisms:

  1. The International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm), created to support the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI)
  2. UNITAID
  3. The Advance Market Commitments for vaccines
  4. The “Debt 2 Health” initiative of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
  5. (PRODUCT) RED
  6. The Responsible Social Investment initiative of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD)
  7. The use of revenues from the Carbon Market
  8. Millennium Foundation for Innovative Finance for Health

The objectives of the first meeting of the informal network included agreement on a common framework for future information sharing, an exchange of experiences, and the development of a joint message on the consequences of the economic and financial crisis for the developing world.

The aim of I-8 is to share experiences, work on one common set of messages to reinforce the current initiative from the High-Level Taskforce on Innovative International Financing for Health Systems and the Leading Group on Solidarity Levies to fund Development, prepare the ground for new initiatives, and coordinate the channelling of resources in order to achieve maximum impact on the ground. Through this it is hoped that future initiatives, whether new ideas or the extension of existing initiatives, can be implemented as quickly and successfully as possible.

The event took place during the sixty-second World Health Assembly which runs in Geneva until 22 May 2009.