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There is an old saying: in unity lies strength. Today we face yet another moment of truth as we come together to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals. Our joint success will depend on decisive action and implementation—at both country and collective levels.

At the Country Level

Countries can and must act at three levels: economically, socially, and environmentally. First, macroeconomic stability is a pre-requisite for a sustainable economy—but it is not sufficient on its own. While priorities vary across countries, structural reforms and efforts to diversify the economy are often required. Equally, revenue mobilization and efficient, effective public spending—including investment—will be key.

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A second priority is inclusion. I affirm that more inclusive growth is also stronger growth—so we must empower people to fulfil their potential. Improving girls’ education and removing barriers to women’s employment and access to finance, would not only boost growth, but also tackle income inequality and poverty. Because let us not forget that poverty and exclusion are sexist.

The environment is a third priority. Countries have a crucial stake in managing their natural resources efficiently and effectively. At the same time, limiting the harmful impact of economic activity on the environment can and will require targeted interventions.

In short, each country must do all it can to drive its own development. But durable progress cannot be achieved in isolation—it requires engagement from the international community. So we need collective action. Why?

Collective Responsibilities

Because in today’s interconnected world, for good or ill, cause and effect, spillovers and spillbacks travel across borders, instantly and unceasingly, irrespective of the walls that are being built. And at all levels:

  • Macroeconomic stability—where an economic shock in one country will affect all others;
  • Inclusion—where social transformations drive the winds of change; and,
  • The environment—where, with global warming, everyone reaps what others have done.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF)—with its 188 member countries, and 70-year track record of promoting global economic cooperation and stability—understands well the need for, and power of, collective action.

Indeed, the Fund is not only promising action—we are also delivering. In our policy advice, in our research, and our capacity building, we have included social and environmental dimensions that were not there, and we will continue doing so.

We are also expanding our support for developing countries in several ways:

  • One: the poorest countries can now borrow 50 percent more from our interest free facilities;
  • Two: we are strengthening our technical support to help countries boost domestic revenue mobilization to finance development spending; we are doing that together with the World Bank; and
  • Three: we are intensifying our support for fragile and conflict-afflicted states. Importantly, we are maintaining, for the longer term, the zero interest rate on our Rapid Credit Facility loans.

The IMF is working with its member countries and international partners in the spirit of global cooperation necessary to achieve the SDGs. We have done so, we are doing so, and we will continue to do so.

The esteemed second Secretary-General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld, once said:

“We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours.”

Likewise, the year 2030—the SDGs target date—will one day be upon us, but what it will look like is in our hands.

By Christine Lagarde. Managing Director, International Monetary Fund

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