The Paris summit: Progress or procrastination in the fight for debt cancellation? 

This week, many world leaders will be gathering in Paris for a summit hosted by President Macron. Self-titled the “Summit for a New Global Financing Pact”

This pact promises to “build a more responsive, fairer and more inclusive international financial system to fight inequalities, finance the climate transition, and bring us closer to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.” 

Sounds exciting, right? Many of us have been calling on global north countries to take responsibility and pay up for their role in creating global inequality and the climate crisis for years. 54 countries are currently in debt crisis, with many spending five times more on repaying debts than fighting the climate crisis. Could this be the moment we’ve been waiting for? 

Sadly not. And on the contrary, this summit presents a dangerous distraction away from the solutions we need to be focusing on.  

Here’s why we’re feeling pessimistic about it. To start with, we’re worried that French President Emmanual Macron is largely using this as an opportunity to build his own profile, rather than work together with the countries most affected by the climate and debt crises.  

To make matters worse, it seems that global South governments have largely been missing from the conversations in the run up to the conference – once again, they have been denied a seat at the table when addressing the issues that most affect them. The same can be said for civil society groups too.  

While it’s great that the summit is prioritising some of the biggest crises happening today, such as the debt crisis and climate crisis, solutions on the table leave much to be desired. On debt for example, they are discussing proposing small scale and weak solutions (like climate resilient debt clauses which allow countries to temporarily suspend debt payments in the event of a climate disaster and debt swaps) which will not solve the crisis now and present several risks. They are also discussing the Common Framework, the global deal agreed at the G20 three years ago, which has yet to lead to any real debt cancellation.   

And on the issue of climate finance, they are proposing more loans. This will push climate vulnerable countries further into debt and force the cost of the climate crisis onto countries who have done the least to create it.  

There is also a lot of talk about how to get the private sector more involved in providing climate finance, and if we know one thing about the private sector, it’s that they’re hungry for profit, not climate action. This presents yet further risks of increasing indebtedness for global South countries.  

We need attention and action on the solutions that actually count, but instead, resources and time and being pulled towards false solutions and business as usual proposals. This is not good enough.  

This is why many groups from around the world, including Debt Justice, are headed to Paris to demand justice for the global South.

We want real solutions like reparations that include debt cancellation for the 54 countries currently in crisis, and a new law to stop big banks and hedge funds exploiting lower income countries.  

Add your voice to the campaign today

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