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Women MSME FinTech Innovation Fund: Call for Applications

The UNCDF and UNESCAP Innovation Fund is seeking innovation digital solutions, including digital financial solutions, that are ready for pilot testing. Projects must target women-owned, managed or led MSMEs in at least one of the following countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Myanmar, Nepal, Samoa, and Viet Nam.

Eligible applicants include (but are not limited to): Regulated Financial Institutions (Banks, MFIs, Insurance Companies), Payment Service Providers; Agent Banking Aggregators; Mobile Network Operators; Technology Providers; FMCG/Agriculture Companies; FinTech Companies; NGOs.

Successful proposals will receive:

  • Up to US$50,000 of co-funding,
  • Technical assistance,
  • Mentoring,
  • Connection to investors.
Applications close on 30 April 2019.

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Highlights

Asia-Pacific Forum on sustainable development (APFSD)

The 6th APFSD will be held in Bangkok on 27-29 March 2019 at the UN Conference Centre. As the formal reporting channel for the Asia-Pacific region to the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), the APFSD provides an opportunity for governments, the private sector and civil society to review progress of implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The 2019 meeting has the theme of "Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality" and will focus on a cluster of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 4, 8, 10, 13, 16 and 17).

The APFSD complements existing Pacific processes, including the Pacific Roadmap for Sustainable Development. A Pacific preparatory meeting for the APFSD was held in Nadi in September 2018. Inequality and exclusion are rising in the Pacific, with rates of absolute inequality striking in a number of countries, and significant gender and geographical dimensions to its spread. The urbanisation of poverty, gender inequalities and social exclusion are some of the persistent drivers of vulnerability and insecurity in the region.
 

Budget development in a medium-term perspective

For several decades, Pacific Island Countries have prepared national and sectoral plans which are inadequately linked to the annual budget process. Achieving the development objectives set out in these plans could be best described as variable. Plans have become aspirational documents, reflecting the development outcomes that various communities seek, and connecting with global and regional priorities that are of national interest, for example the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. But they are much less effective in guiding decisions on which projects to implement, or which services to prioritize, and securing the necessary resources.

The IMF’s Regional Technical Assistance Center for the Pacific and the ESCAP Pacific Office published a guidance note to address these challenges. The note includes diagnostic tools to identify gaps and weaknesses in the planning-budgeting relationship. It recommends incorporating a strategic phase early in the budget process, employing a medium-term expenditure framework to better link national/sector plans and their priorities to the budget, as well as practical steps to strengthen reporting and monitoring.

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Gender statistics in the Pacific

ESCAP co-facilitated a workshop on Gender Statistics in the Pacific to help establish a roadmap for better production and use of gender statistics to monitor the SDGs. The workshop identified and documented key issues in gender statistics, including relevance of gender indicators required at the national and regional levels, challenges in the production and analysis of gender statistics, and dissemination of gender statistics to key users for effective use in policy formulation.  From these discussions, an outline for the roadmap was agreed on, with substantive content to be developed over the coming months involving countries gender machineries, national statistics offices and development partners.

The work links to ESCAP’s recent development of the EPIC tool to assist countries to generate national indicator frameworks, which are focused on national needs as well as regional and global reporting requirements, ensuring that disaggregation requirements (including those for gender) are not overlooked during the process.

Upcoming ESCAP-Pacific Events

ESCAP Committee on Trade and Investment, Sixth Session
13-15 March 2019
Bangkok, Thailand
Sixth Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development
27-29 March 2019
Bangkok, Thailand