The objective of the five days of talks, the third summit of its kind after talks in Monterrey in 2002 and Doha in 2008, is ambitious: laying out the ground rules for a fairer world of inclusive, low-carbon growth.
Concretely, that means deciding how to fill a colossal annual investment gap in key sustainable development sectors for developing nations – estimated at up to $2.5 trillion annually according to the UN’s trade and development body UNCTAD.
This in turn will enable the world body to push ahead with its 2015-2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which are due to be formally adopted in New York in October. There are 17 in all, ranging from ending poverty to providing universal access to sustainable energy.
The choice of Ethiopia as summit host highlights the importance of the issue for Africa, a continent which counts 33 out of the world’s 49 least developed countries.
Despite concerns over its record on democracy and human rights, the country – gripped by an appalling famine 30 years ago but now one of the world’s fastest growing economies – is seen as something as a model for development, having brought millions out of poverty and having invested heavily in infrastructure and key public services.