Measuring sectors without borders

Why do we measure where finance for development goes? When a student enters their first classroom, does it matter to them how the school was funded? No. Does finance for development matter for our ability to achieve a better world by 2030? Yes.

In 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including its 17 goals and 169 targets. These goals and targets include eradication of poverty, equal access to quality education and achieving a sharp decline in the global maternal mortality ratio, to name a few. To understand if we are on track to meet these goals, and where there are gaps – those that will affect citizens – we need to measure where development finance is flowing.

However, the challenge exists today in how to measure development finance to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs rightly break down silos among sectors. The SDGs result from lessons learned from the preceding set of Millennium Development Goals that sustained systemic change cannot be achieved through single-sector goals and approaches. A fundamental feature of the current 2030 Agenda is that it emphasises the complexity and interconnectedness of the different dimensions required to achieve development. It challenges the traditional sector-based approach to looking at education, health or water and sanitation as separate areas. Sectors were traded for terms like “the gender-education-health nexus,” and “the climate-land-energy-water nexus.”

Three years into the implementation of the SDGs, this report takes stock of the impact of the new agenda on sector policies and for the analysis of sector financing. In the SDG era, providers are required to take a closer look at the various interactions across sectors and adapt strategies to fit the new multidimensional approach. This approach includes supporting global public goods and cross-cutting areas.

We start by broadening the lens on development finance. We need to look at flows beyond official development assistance (ODA) and include other official flows (OOF) – philanthropy, and private funds mobilised. We also need to include tracking funding patterns and trends. With this broader scope, this paper addresses development actors beyond traditional development co-operation providers, and attempts to answer the following questions: What are the sector data gaps? How can sector data be improved? Where do we stand on finance flows by sector, both overall, and by countries most in need? What are the implications of the 2030 Agenda on the use of financial instruments and the use of different channels of delivery?

We have found that, while the SDGs call for “ODA-and-beyond” to meet the cross-cutting ambitions of the 2030 Agenda, we do not yet have the right dashboard in place to monitor progress. This paper is a first step towards further analysis of sector financing, highlighting what is missing, and where the development community should go next. As outlined in the executive summary, the 35% increase in official development finance between 2012 and 2016 means that adopting a smart sectoral approach to SDG finance is essential. Taking this one step further, the findings of this report will inform the development of the first-ever measurement framework for how all official development finance supports the SDGs. Such a framework is total official support for sustainable development (TOSSD), which is currently being developed by an international task force, with the objective of making official development finance more transparent, and ultimately, more effective.


Jorge Moreira da Silva


OECD Development Co-operation Directorate

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