Global debt crisis: World Bank and IMF seek solutions at Civil Society Policy Forum

The Civil Society Policy Forum, which was held from the 17th to the 19th of April, was part of the spring meetings and addressed a myriad of topics. At the forum, the World Bank and IMF interact at both the national and international levels with MPs, Think Tanks, young leaders, and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) through information exchange, discussion, and consultation.

The forum on “International Development Today” convened global stakeholders from government, donor agencies, private sector entities, and civil society organizations (CSOs) to deliberate on the increasing significance of multi-sector partnerships in achieving sustainable economic and social benefits. Throughout the sessions, emphasis was placed on the indispensable role of CSOs in amplifying the voices of marginalized communities and ensuring their participation in decision-making processes.

The forum was held for 3 days and had many important and informative sessions.

Day 1: April 17

The discussions commenced with sessions exploring feminist perspectives on public debt and the digital divide, underscoring the need for inclusive policies and practices. The World Bank Board and Civil Society Roundtable provided a platform for dialogue between key stakeholders. Additionally, deliberations on the future of special drawing rights, social protection projects, and environmental sustainability highlighted the evolving landscape of development finance and the imperative of prioritizing marginalized groups.

Day 2: April 18

The second day of the forum delved into pressing issues such as the poly-crisis fueled by public debt, the role of African parliamentarians and CSOs in leveraging development assistance, and strategies for inclusive recovery in conflict-affected regions. Sessions also explored the legacy of Bretton Woods institutions and the accountability mechanisms of international financial institutions (IFIs). The day concluded with reflections on green conditionality and the need for alignment with sustainable development goals.

This session was hosted by Iolanda Fresnillo, Eurodad’s policy and advocacy manager for debt justice. Around 18 organizations participated in this comprehensive examination of the complicated complexities of the emerging debt crisis, which is seriously affecting countries worldwide.

The panellists were Chioneso Samantha Kanoyangwa, Coordinator at the African Sovereign Debt Network; Mark Flanagan, Deputy Director of the IMF’s Strategy Policy and Review Department; Jason Rosario Braganza, AFRODAD’s Executive Director; Marina Zucker-Marques, Senior Academic Researcher, Global Economic Governance Initiative; and Matthew Martin, formerly with the World Bank and now Director at Development Finance International joined online.

The panel explained how complex this problem is by stating that it exceeds straightforward financial obstacles like cash crunch, manifesting instead as a solvency obstacle with structural implications, uniquely crippling several African nations (like Zambia, Kenya and Ghana).

Focusing on Africa specifically, they highlighted how detrimental this situation is for economic stability and sustainable growth – affecting everything from cocoa exports in Ghana to civil service payments in Kenya. One key observation made by the panel was that this debt crisis impedes progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

One of the expert panellists suggested debt refinancing and tailored financing strategies to bolster Africa’s progress towards the SDGs. Transparency and climate finance were also considered crucial priorities for African nations. Moreover, there was a clear call for substantial restructuring of the global financial debt framework to ensure both sustainable development and economic resilience.

Day 3: April 19

The final day of the forum focused on youth engagement, feminist perspectives on climate finance, and proactive measures to prevent future pandemics. Discussions also centred on rebalancing public finance for equity and justice alongside strategies for genuine debt sustainability. The forum concluded with sessions on feminist approaches to labour market participation and the local impacts of energy transition projects.

The 2024 CSPF demonstrated the effectiveness of collaboration and communication in tackling urgent global issues. In a time when economic instability and development priorities are pressing concerns, forums like this shine as guiding lights towards an impartial, adaptable, and viable future for everyone.

About the author

Olivier Noudjalbaye Dedingar

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