As 2022 comes to an end, we want to say a big thank you for your support and to celebrate five highlights that show what we have achieved together this year to campaign against unjust debt.
1. Unleashed public pressure on BlackRock
BlackRock is one of the largest private lenders to Zambia. As negotiations on debt cancellation continued throughout the year, we unleashed waves of public pressure on BlackRock to cancel the debt, in solidarity with Zambian campaigners. You have lobbied MPs, signed a petition to the CEO, jammed up BlackRock’s phone lines. We protested at their London headquarters twice, delivered the petition with 11,000 signatories, sent them an open letter signed by over 100 economists and development experts, exposed their profiteering, and mobilised five UN independent experts to call for debt cancellation. The negotiations are still ongoing but together we have made sure that BlackRock can’t ignore the demands from Zambian people. By the end of the year, UK development minister admitted that legislation to compel private lenders to cancel debt needs to be considered.
2. Won debt cancellation for Ukraine
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we started to campaign for Ukraine’s debts to be cancelled alongside Ukrainian social movement Sotsialniy Rukh, the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign and Another Europe.
In July, Ukraine’s lenders agreed to campaigners’ demands to suspend the country’s debt repayments for around two years. This will free up billions of dollars to enable the Ukrainian people to address the severe humanitarian crisis and costs of the Russian invasion. This breakthrough shows how campaigning can help to convert the unthinkable into the inevitable. Thank you to everyone who has supported this campaign - whether it’s signing the petition, sharing our articles or helping us to spread the word. You have helped to push this issue onto the political agenda.
3. Raised the alarm about climate and debt
Widespread flooding in Pakistan in the summer demonstrated the devastating interconnection between the debt and climate crisis and made us even more determined to sound the alarm that there can be no climate justice without debt justice.
We heard directly from our friend Farooq Tariq in Pakistan at our webinar on debt and climate. You signed our petition calling for debt cancellation and climate reparations and you marched on the streets in solidarity at Global Day of Action on climate justice in November. Meanwhile we launched our new report on debt and climate at COP27 in Egypt and worked with our allies in the global south to organise a protest to highlight the connection between debt and climate, call for grant-based climate finance and financing for loss and damage.
A loss and damage facility was finally agreed at this year’s COP27 after decades of campaigning from lower income governments, campaigners and climate activists from around the world. The facility still needs funds but for now, this is a great step forward in the fight for climate reparations.
4) National activist gathering
We met together for our first in-person national activist gathering since the pandemic. Meeting in Manchester, we heard from our keynote speaker Mikaela Loach, held a panel event for the launch of our new debt and colonialism political education project, made placards for the climate justice demonstration and brainstormed ideas on building the collective power of people in debt. It was a great day to spark our imaginations, learn together, connect with each other and build solidarity and joy in our movement.
5) Building the collective power of people in debt
We have been building the collective power of people in debt through setting up Together Against Debt groups. We now have three groups in London, Manchester and Glasgow and on the verge of setting up a fourth group.
The groups choose and develop their own campaigns and so far, they have won a commitment from Lambeth Council in London for housing repairs to prevent the build up of energy debt, launched a campaign to cancel school meal debt in Glasgow and fighting to end bailiff use in Manchester.
Across the UK, energy debt is now soaring at £2.1 billion because of expensive energy bills and we launched a national campaign to cancel energy debt to give people a fighting chance this winter.
It’s been a tough year for so many people. And there is much for us to do but I believe that by campaigning together and taking collective action we are a force to be reckoned with. That’s why it’s so important that we build power through strong, diverse movements both here in the UK and in the global south in solidarity with, and taking leadership from affected communities.
We have a unique contribution to make within the wider economic justice movement to highlight the role that debt plays in driving poverty, hardship and inequality. And your passion, support and action is needed more than ever.
Thank you so for your involvement in our campaigns this year and we look forward to building the movement for debt justice in 2023 with you.