Date & Time3:00pm, 21 June 2022 - 4:30pm, 21 June 2022
About the event
As countries seek to respond to the health and economic effects of recent and ongoing crises, debt is surging to record levels, with Low- and Middle-income countries especially vulnerable. Their capacity to fund strong health systems, and to respond to even the most immediate impacts of climate change, is becoming increasingly constrained. For the Commonwealth’s smaller Member States, the loss and damage caused by climate change is presenting unique – and in some cases existential – challenges. What can be done to support these countries to meet their climate and health goals and, in the case of climate, to ensure that unfair burdens of loss and damage are addressed? What role can the Commonwealth play in bringing together those who hold the power to deliver support, relieve debt burden, and provide restitution?
Global public debt levels were already elevated before COVID-19. As countries seek to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, fiscal revenues are falling, pushing debt levels close to 100% of GDP globally. Added to this debt burden, which is constraining the capacity of all countries to strengthen their health systems, is the urgent need for climate-vulnerable States to fund adaptation and mitigation.
Crushing public debt is widely seen to be the inevitable product of a dysfunctional and inequitable global financial system. While reform of that system must be part of any coherent plan for the future, there is a pressing need to focus on immediate needs. What can be done to ensure that countries and communities are able to cope with current and future health and climate emergencies? And what innovations should we be exploring and pushing for – not just to address immediate needs but also to lay the foundation for greater economic justice?
Key questions for the session
What needs to happen on health? How can the changes needed to build strong and resilient health systems be funded? What responsibilities lie with national governments? What is the role of the international community and how can global institutions; the private sector and civil society work together to get funding and other resources to where they are most needed?
What needs to happen on climate? How do we best advance discussion in the multilateral space around reparations for the loss and damage caused by climate change? What are the prospects for the Commission on Small Island States? What other options should be under consideration? How can the Commonwealth – including Commonwealth civil society – come together to support its small and vulnerable states as they fight for justice in international forums?
What big ideas must we take up to challenge a system that entrenches inequality? What forces and factors underlie a system which has proved inadequate to the challenge of delivering financing for health and climate? Which of these should we be prioritising for attention and advocacy as we reimagine something different? How can the Commonwealth step into a leadership role in fighting for economic justice for its small and vulnerable Member States?
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. She is now leading campaigns on global health, sustainable food systems, bilateral trade deals and financial markets regulation.
Chairman and Managing Partner, SouthBridge
Emeritus President, African Development Bank (2005 – 2015)
Special Envoy of the African Union on Financing, the Peace Fund and COVID19 response
Former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Rwanda (1997 – 2005)
A Rwandan economist and former Finance Minister, Dr. Kaberuka is the 7th President of the African Development Bank (2005-2015). He is credited for expanding the reach and impact of AfDB, Africa’s premier financial institution during his two terms as President.
Kaberuka is currently the African Union High Representative for Financing, the Peace Fund and COVID19 response. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of several organisations and think tanks including the Rockefeller Foundation, Center for Global Development, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, The Brookings Institution and the London School of Economics. He serves on the International Advisory Council of Standard Chartered Bank and Co-Chair of Council on State Fragility. He was also nominated in 2017 to Chair the panel on the third External Evaluation of the International Monetary Fund. Since retiring from the African Development Bank, he is Chairman and Managing Partner of SouthBridge a financial and investment advisory firm which he co-founded. He was elected in 2019 as Chair of the Board of The Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.
Mr. Alvin Mosioma is the Executive Director of Tax Justice Network Africa, a Pan-African Advocacy and Research Network of over 44 members in 25 African countries working on Tax Justice and curbing of IFFs from Africa.
He is a leading voice on tax policy in Africa and has spearheaded numerous civil society campaigns in Africa since 2007. He has previously served as the Chair of the Financial Transparency Coalition (FTC) and was nominated to join the Open Government Partnership as a member of the steering committee. He currently serves as a member of the advisory board for Plateforme de Protection des Lanceurs d’Alerte en Afrique (PPLAAF) and on the board of the coordinating committee of the Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GATJ).
Over the past 15 years, he has published a number of articles and reports on fiscal policy in Africa and has also co-authored two books on taxation and development in Africa. He holds a master’s degree in economics from the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. His special interest areas include fiscal policy, international taxation, financial regulation and natural resource governance.
Jimmy Fletcher was the Minister for Public Service, Information, Broadcasting, Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology in Saint Lucia from 2011 to 2016. During his tenure, he led an aggressive modernization of the energy sector, commissioned modern ICT centres in several under-served communities, started a program for free island-wide Wi-Fi, developed a call centre for information on public service matters, and established an Employee Assistance Programme to provide free, confidential counselling to public officers. He played a leading role in the Caribbean’s ‘1.5 to Stay Alive’ civil society campaign and during the COP21 negotiations he was selected by the COP President to be part of the ministerial team that helped to achieve consensus on the elements of the Paris Agreement. He was recognized by Global Optimism in Profiles of Paris as one of the people who played a key role in creating the historic Paris Agreement. In 2019, he was selected by the United Kingdom’s Chevening Scholarship Program as one of 35 Global Changemakers. James currently manages his own company, SOLORICON. He wrote the book Governing in a Small Caribbean Island State and recently, he authored the chapter ‘The Battle for Small Island Developing States’ in the Cambridge University Press publication ‘Negotiating the Paris Agreement: The Insider Stories’. In 2020, he launched The Caribbean Climate Justice Project, which advocates for climate justice for the people most impacted by climate change. He holds a PhD degree in Plant Physiology (Cambridge) and a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry (University of Ottawa).
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