UN DEVELOPMENT SUSTAINABLE GOAL: Strengthen domestic resource mobilization, including through international support to developing countries, to improve domestic capacity for tax and other revenue collection.

With multilateral and global partnerships already challenged by scarce financial resources, trade tensions, technological obstacles and a lack of data, the COVID-19 pandemic has administered an unprecedented shock to the global system. In addition, there is severe pressure on FDI, which is expected to fall by 40 per cent. The fiscal impacts of the pandemic are leading to debt distress in countries and territories and limiting their fiscal and policy space for critical investments in recovery (including accessing vaccines), climate change and the Goals, which threatens to pro long recovery periods. The pandemic has focused attention on the crucial role of global partnerships. The interconnected global economy requires a global response to ensure that all countries and territories, in particular developing countries, can address the compounding and parallel health, economic and environmental crises in order to recover better.


As of 2019, across approximately 130 economies, government revenue, including taxes, social contributions and grants, accounts for approximately 33 per cent of GDP on average. In addition, the average overall tax burden or revenue in the form of taxes is 25 per cent of GDP in advanced economies and 17 per cent of GDP in emerging market and developing economies. The average proportion of gover nment expenditure funded by taxes is 67 per cent in advanced economies and 62 per cent in emerging market and developing economies.

Net ODA flows were $161 billion in 2020, an increase of 7 per cent in real terms compared to 2019 and the highest level ever recorded. This is equivalent to 0.32 per cent of the combined gross national income of Development Assistance Committee donors, up from 0.3 per cent in 2019 but below the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income for ODA. The increase in ODA is owing in part to the support of Committee members for an inclusive global recovery in the light of the pandemic and in part to an increase in bilateral sovereign lending by some lending members.

Global flows of FDI were under severe pressure in 2020. These vital resources are expected to have fallen by 40 per cent from $1.5 trillion in 2019 to less than $1 trillion for the first time since 2005, undoing the already lacklustre growth in international investment over the past decade. International private sector investment flows to developing and transition economies in sectors relevant for the Goals were also on course to fall by about one third in 2020.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries and territories reached $540 billion in 2020, just 1.6 per cent below the total of $548 billion for 2019.

By the end of 2020, the cumulative number of countries and territories that have signed or adopted bilateral investment treaties with the least developed countries and developing economies reached 121 and 183, respectively. The number of countries and territories with bilateral investment treaties in force or implemented reached 102 and 173, respectively. The rate of new countries and territories signing such treaties has slowed in recent years, following a rapid increase in the 1990s.

Information and communications technology

As of 2019, just over half of the world’s population was online, with a large digital divide observed among regions. For example, while 85 per cent of the population in Europe and Northern America had Internet access, only 20 per cent were connected in the least developed countries.

While fixed-broadband subscriptions continue to increase, growth in subscriptions slowed to 2.7 per cent in 2020. In developed countries, there were more than 33 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, representing a high penetration rate, while the number in developing countries stood at 11.5 per 100 inhabitants. In the least developed countries, fixed networks are almost completely absent, with only 1.3 subscriptions per 100 inhabitants.


Total ODA for capacity-building and national planning amounted to $35.9 billion in 2019 and represented 14 per cent of total sector allocable aid, a figure that has been stable since 2010. The main sectors assisted were energy policy, public administration and the financial sector, which received a total of $13.8 billion.


For the period from 2017 to 2019, the worldwide weighted tariff average has remained steady at around 2 per cent. Agriculture and clothing still have the highest tariff averages at around 6 per cent, followed by textiles at around 4 per cent. In 2019, small but relatively more significant improvements were recorded for two important sectors, textiles and clothing, in the least developed countries and developing countries.

The share of least developed country exports in global merchandise trade remained constant at 1 per cent in 2019, having stagnated over the past decade after significant improvement from 2000 to 2010. The target of doubling the share of least developed country exports worldwide to 2 per cent by 2020 from their 2011 level is unlikely to be achieved. For developing countries, the share in world merchandise exports has remained constant at about 45 per cent since 2012. In 2019, the share of the least developed countries in world services exports stood at 0.8 per cent, while the share of developing countries in those exports has levelled off since 2012, reaching 30.2 per cent in 2019.

After reaching its lowest level of 1.1 per cent in 2011, the average tariff applied by developed countries to imports from developing and least developed countries in 2019 has remained unchanged owing to a lack of new commitments by developed countries. At the sectoral level, clothing and textiles have remained stable at their peak of 8 and 5 per cent, respectively, since 2011.

Data, monitoring and accountability

From 2016 to 2018, the extent to which development cooperation providers used country-owned results frameworks and planning tools in the design and monitoring of new development projects decreased from 64 per cent to 62 per cent on average. Multilateral providers use the frameworks and planning tools for those purposes to a larger extent than bilateral providers (66 per cent compared to 57 per cent).

Of 114 countries and territories providing or receiving development cooperation, fewer than half (56 countries and territories) reported overall progress in 2018 towards strengthening multi-stakeholder partnerships for development with a view to achieving the Goals.

In 2020, 122 Member States reported having national statistical legislation that was compliant with the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics. The proportions of compliant Member States exceed 40 per cent for almost all regions and country groups, except for the least developed countries, which also experienced their fastest progress before 2020. Nevertheless, 2020 was the year in which the least progress was made since 2015.

Also in 2020, 132 countries and territories reported implementing a national statistical plan, with 84 having fully funded plans. Only 4 out of 46 (8 per cent) of the least developed countries reported having fully funded national statistical plans. Countries and territories could face more difficulties in implementing and funding national statistical plans owing to rescheduled and costly activities, such as census and household surveys, that were postponed until 2021 because of the pandemic.

ODA for data and statistics increased from $591 million in 2015 to $693 million in 2018. Almost every region received more support in 2017 and 2018 than from 2015 to 2016. Despite the progress made in the first four years, the trend of support for data and statistics may be reaching a bottleneck, as nowcasts indicated that there was no significant increase in 2019. While the need for reliable data continues to increase, including to address and mitigate the impacts of the pandemic, many countries and territories still lack the resources to produce reliable data.

For the period 2015–2019, 146 countries and territories have birth registration data that are at least 90 per cent complete and 151 countries and territories have death registration data that are at least 75 per cent complete. Therefore, about 60 per cent of countries and territories worldwide meet both criteria. In sub-Saharan Africa, additional countries and territories have birth and death registration data compared to the previous reporting period, increasing from 28 to 29 countries and territories for birth registration and from 53 to 55 countries and territories for death registration.



UN Sustainable Development Goals

Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals – E/2021/58

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