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2023 Dialogue on Tax and SDGs at Columbia University and UNDP Headquarters Highlights the Importance of Tax in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Sergei Korotkov, 20 Nov, 2023
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2023 Dialogue on Tax and SDGs at Columbia University and UNDP Headquarters Highlights the Importance of Tax in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The 2023 Dialogue on Tax and SDGs, hosted at Columbia University and UNDP HQ, discussed the critical role of taxation in achieving the SDGs. 

New York – United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with Columbia University and the Governments of Finland and Norway held the 2023 Edition of the Dialogue on Tax and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from 14-17 November at Columbia University and UNDP Headquarters. The event focused on the role of taxation as a critical pillar in achieving the Agenda 2030 and the 17 SDGs. 

As we approach the target year for the Agenda 2030 amidst challenging conditions, developing nations are actively seeking innovative solutions to meet the SDGs. Beyond mere revenue collection, tax systems offer immense possibilities. The Dialogue on Tax and SDGs underscored taxation’s critical role in driving sustainable development, fortifying social contracts, and directly influencing the achievement of the SDGs.

The 2023 edition of the Dialogue brought together over 400 global policymakers, including 14 ministers, tax administrators, diplomats and thought leaders from 58 countries and 48 organizations. The event saw participation from global and regional institutions, including the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Health Organization (WHO), Oxfam, Addis Tax Initiative, African Tax Administration Forum, Swedish Tax Agency, Transparency and Accountability Initiative, Financial Accountability & Corporate Transparency, African Capacity Building Foundation, HAUS Finnish Institute of Public Management, Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung office in New York, Commitment to Equity Institute, United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research. 

The Dialogue spanned four days of in-depth discussions and the participants engaged in dynamic dialogues, with the aim to forge interdisciplinary approaches to taxation and explore innovative tax measures that could drive sustainable development. During the event, UNDP launched the draft SDG Taxation Framework (STF) as well as the Tax for SDGs course. 

Participants commended UNDP for launching the STF tool and the Tax for SDGs course and recognizing the transformative potential of the tool called on UNDP to expedite its implementation across all countries. More information on the STF can be found here.

The Dialogue’s discussion encompassed pivotal topics, including the importance of investing in sustainable tax administration, inter-generational debt effects, and leveraging tax measures for SDG financing. Furthermore, the Dialogue highlighted the transformative impact of taxation in economic and social spheres, emphasising the importance of transparency, accountability, and the media’s vital role in securing political backing for SDG-focused taxation. The recordings of the discussions are available here.

“The discussion about taxation and SDGs has become a certified part of our work, with UNDP focusing on SDGs and helping to build taxation policies that accelerate the implementation of SDGs,” said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator. “The international community must consider the consequences for the developing world when designing tax systems,” continued Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate in Economics and Professor at Columbia University.

UNDP extends its deepest gratitude to all the partners of the various sessions, as well as the Government of Finland, the Government of Norway, and Columbia University (led by the Initiative for Policy Dialogue), for the invaluable support in organising the 2023 Dialogue on Tax and SDGs.