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A Roundtable Critical Conversation

Global Finance for People and Planet

Jump to Speakers
Heba Aly
Dr Grieve Chelwa
Heidi Chow
Una May Gordon
Professor Avinash Persaud
Date & Time
2:00pm, 12 September 2023 - 3:30pm, 12 September 2023
About the event

Almost 50 per cent of countries experiencing debt crises are small and vulnerable Commonwealth Member States facing severe loss and damage from climate change. A recent analysis found that debt-stricken nations have paid a staggering $50 billion to G20 creditors in debt repayments since 2020.

Rising debt servicing costs mean that the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries—who have oftentimes played a small role in contributing to overall emissions—are struggling to find the resources necessary to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Government and civil society leaders in heavily indebted countries and those on the frontline of the climate crisis, have long called for a systematic reform of the global financial architecture so it privileges spending on climate adaptation, resilience and protecting lives instead of servicing debt repayments.

Commitments made at the recent high-profile ‘Paris Summit’ in June fell far short of the transformational change that was called for, but important advancements were made in articulating both the problem and what needs to be done.

Why should I attend?

Commonwealth Finance Ministers will meet from October 9-10 to progress commitments made at the Paris Summit and to advocate for greater ambition and bold decision-making.

During this interactive roundtable, you will help formulate recommendations for Commonwealth Finance Ministers. Please note that spaces are limited to those with knowledge and experience in debt justice, climate finance and climate advocacy.

The event’s findings and recommendations will also contribute to the Commonwealth’s position at COP28 in the United Arab Emirates.

The event will be immediately followed by a networking session to add further details to the recommendations and connect with climate change experts and advocates from across the Commonwealth.

Photo credit: Rodney Dekker (Climate Visuals)

Heba Aly Moderator
Dr Grieve Chelwa Speaker
Heidi Chow Speaker
Una May Gordon Speaker
Professor Avinash Persaud Speaker
Heba Aly

Named by New African Magazine one of the 100 Most Influential Africans of 2018, Heba Aly runs the world’s leading source of original, field-based journalism about humanitarian crises. The New Humanitarian (formerly IRIN News) is an independent, non-profit newsroom reporting from the heart of conflicts and disasters. It amplifies the voices of those affected to inform more effective and accountable responses by the international community. A multimedia journalist by training, Heba spent one decade reporting from conflict zones in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia before joining the transition team that led IRIN’s spin-off from the United Nations. Her work for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Christian Science Monitor, Bloomberg News and IRIN, among others, has taken her to places like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Chad, Kenya and Libya; and she received a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for work in northern Sudan. Her TEDx Talk – “Stop Eating Junk News” – drives home the importance of responsible journalism from crisis zones. Heba is a regular commentator on media coverage of crises, as well as humanitarian aid policy, in her published work, in governmental briefings and at conferences around the world. In 2018, the World Economic Forum named Heba one of 100 Young Global Leaders under 40.

Dr Grieve Chelwa

Dr. Grieve Chelwa is an Associate Professor of Political Economy at the Africa Institute. Prior to this, he was the Director of Research at the Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy at The New School. Before joining The New School, Dr. Chelwa was a senior lecturer in economics at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business, where he also served as the director of the MBA program. From 2016 to 2017, Dr. Chelwa was the inaugural postdoctoral fellow at the Center for African Studies at Harvard University. His scholarly work has appeared in journals such as the Journal of Economic Literature, Applied Economics Letters, Social Science and Medicine, Daedalus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Economy and Society. Grieve’s opinions have appeared in outlets including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the BBC, France 24, and Bloomberg.

Heidi Chow

Heidi Chow is the Executive Director of Debt Justice (formerly known as Jubilee Debt Campaign) – one of the leading organisations campaigning on debt-related poverty and inequality in solidarity with affected communities in the global south and across the UK. Heidi has a track record of winning public campaigns on economic justice issues for over a decade and was formerly senior campaign manager and policy advisor at Global Justice Now leading campaigns on global health, sustainable food systems, bilateral trade deals and financial markets regulation.

Una May Gordon

Una May Gordon is an experienced Climate Change professional who believes strongly that development is about people.

She was the former Principal Director of Climate Change in the government of Jamaica and for many years, served as the government’s focal point to the GCF, the Adaptation Fund and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) where she also functioned as head of delegation and chief negotiator to many Conference of the Parties (COP). For COP 23 & 24 she served on the Bureau, a role which required her to assume functions as vice president of the COPs.

Una May is recognized globally for her innovative leadership, her mentorship of young people and her effective cross-cultural communication and networking skills. She is an efficient fundraiser who believes in true collective action.

She is a founding member of the UNFCCC Network of women leaders and serves on a number of boards of organizations & institutions including the Caribbean Women in Leadership & the Recycling Partners of Jamaica. She is the current Chairperson of the Board of Governors of the Caricom Community Climate Change Centre and co-chair of the Board of the Caribbean Climate Smart Accelerator.

Professor Avinash Persaud

Avinash Persaud’s career spans finance, public policy and academia. He is Emeritus Professor of Gresham College and an advisor to Governments on financial policy. He was a former senior executive at GAM London, State Street, J. P. Morgan and UBS. He is Chairman of the CARICOM Commission on the Economy and was Chairman of the regulatory sub-committee of the UN Commission on Financial Reform and Chairman of the Warwick Commission on International Financial Reform. He was a Member of the UK Treasury’s Audit and Risk Committee and the Pew Task Force to the US Senate Banking Committee. He was Distinguished Advisor, Financial Sector Law Reform Commission of India and has been a Visiting Scholar at the IMF. He is a former Governor, London School of Economics and 2010 President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (Section F). He was elected Trustee of the Global Association of Risk Professionals and of the Royal Economics Society. He won the Jacques de Larosiere Award in Global Finance from the Institute of International Finance and was voted one of the top three public intellectuals in the world on the financial crisis by a panel for Prospect Magazine.

Photo credits: University of Warwick

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