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Unprecedented call for global finance reform

Filed under: Business,International News,Latest News |

…to fix debt, climate crises 

Stephen Fry, Annie Lennox, Christiana Figueres, Forest Whitaker, David Miliband, Graça Machel, Helen Clark and Paul Polman among 100+ signatories of letter to G20 leaders 


Eighty years on from the establishment of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, an unprecedented coalition of leading actors, politicians, artists and economists have written to leaders of the world’s major economies urging them to upgrade the global financial system to help solve the debt and climate crises and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.


President W Ruto

The open letter, coordinated by Project Everyone, is being published ahead of World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings in Washington DC (17-19 April) and builds on calls for global public finance reform led by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Kenyan Prime Minister William Ruto, and French President Emmanuel Macron.


The letter urges rich countries to triple their investment in multilateral development banks, end crippling debt and make polluters pay for the environmental damage they cause. Signatories include economist Mariana Mazzucato, businessman Dr. Mo Ibrahim, actors Dia Mirza, Alice Braga and Nomzamo Mbatha, former politicians Rory Stewart, Joyce Banda, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul and Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and filmmakers Richard Curtis, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and KondZilla.


“The institutions of world finance have lost their muscle,” the letter reads. “The world is rocked by conflict, food insecurity, biodiversity loss, and spiralling inflation. All of which are compounded by the devastation wrought by climate change. The Sustainable Development Goals are under threat. Too many feel scarcity, austerity, despair.”


The UN estimates that the total amount needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals is $5.4 trillion a year by 2030. There is currently a $3 trillion shortfall based on current policies. Meanwhile, almost 60 percent of low-income countries are now in debt distress, and annually they spend six times more servicing their debt than the World Bank lends in a year.


President Joyce Banda

Dr Joyce Banda, Former President of the Republic of Malawi, said: “As African leaders, we need to invest in resilience, education, health and nutrition but we’re being held back by unfair debt. Climate change has brought untold suffering to our people through loss of infrastructure and arable lands, leading to incessant hunger. We have no choice but to borrow more, perpetuating the vicious cycle. This has to stop. It’s time to transform global public finance to pave the way for a fairer, more stable future for all.”


David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said: “Climate, conflict and poverty are closely linked – the world’s most fragile and conflict-affected states are often the most climate-vulnerable. To end extreme poverty and unlock sustainable development, G20 leaders should back financial architecture reform, deliver more concessional finance via the World Bank’s International Development Association, and work with civil society to ensure the money gets to where it’s needed most.”


The letter – also signed by leading NGOs Save The Children, The ONE Campaign, Oxfam, Project Everyone and Christian Aid – ends by urging the leaders of the world’s major economies to seize the opportunity of reform at this pivotal moment in the history of the so-called Bretton Woods institutions:


“Change is already underway. The architects of the World Bank and the IMF earned their place in history. This is your chance to fulfil their promise: to transform these instruments for peace and prosperity and truly set them to work in our common interest. Triple the investment. End crippling debt. Make polluters pay. It’s time to taste hope again.”


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