Initiative on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond
Co-convened by Canada, Jamaica and the United Nations
The COVID-19 pandemic and the social and economic crisis it triggered has not only caused immeasurable suffering in the past six months but could also derail five years of global efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In some parts of the world, the pandemic is fast turning into a humanitarian crisis, threatening to push entire populations into a state of acute food deprivation and endangering the lives of millions of women, men and children.
The pandemic is expected to drive between 71 and 100 million people into extreme poverty, the first such increase since 1998. With progress on SDG 2 (zero hunger) already backsliding before the onset of COVID-19, an estimated additional 270 million people could face acute food shortages by the end of 2020. Meanwhile, the equivalent of 400 million jobs worldwide were lost in the second quarter of 2020 relative to the last quarter of 2019. This has served to reinforce and further widen economic inequalities, disproportionately impacting developing countries and vulnerable groups.
While many developed countries have been able to finance robust counter-cyclical fiscal responses to the crisis, developing countries, who face higher interest rates and service fees, are either struggling to service their debts or are directing finance that could be used to support health and social sectors towards paying back debts. Of the $11 trillion global fiscal response that has been implemented so far, 88 per cent of this has been disbursed by high-income countries, while 2.5 percent has been disbursed by emerging and developing economies.
On 28 May 2020, Canada, Jamaica and the Secretary-General convened a High-Level Event to join forces with Heads of State and Government, international organizations, and other key partners to enable discussions of concrete financing solutions to the COVID-19 health and development emergency for everyone. In follow up to the High-Level Event on May 28th, six Discussions Groups were convened to address questions of external finance and remittances, jobs and inclusive growth; recovering better for sustainability; global liquidity and financial stability; debt vulnerability; private sector creditors engagement; and illicit financial flows.
The result is a single, ambitious menu of options addressing policies for the short, medium and long term, supported by a set of six executive summaries containing key highlights of each Discussion Group. This package fully reflects the variety of needs and views of various stakeholders and, above all, those of Member States.
The menu of policy options has been distilled further to reflect to views expressed by Ministers of Finance from all continents received during a High-Level Meeting on 8th September. The menu of policy options is not a negotiated document and reflects a wide array of perspectives and priorities.
Heads of State and Government Meeting
To take stock and consider bold choices that now need to be made to secure our common future, Canada, Jamaica and the Secretary-General are convening a follow-up Meeting of Heads of State and Government on September 29th, 2020. The overall objective of the meeting is to consider the menu of policy options developed over the last four months with the ambition of supporting Member States in responding and recovering from the current global crisis.
Following opening remarks by the Prime Ministers of Canada and Jamaica, and the United Nations Secretary-General, the work of the six Discussion Groups and outcomes of the High-Level Meeting of Finance Ministers will be presented. Heads of State and Government and High-Level speakers from international financial institutions and partners will intervene. The meeting will conclude with closing remarks from the co-conveners.
The ambition and partnership embedded in this effort will feed into and mobilize action at high-level meetings such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual meetings and the G20 Leaders’ Summit, in October and November, respectively.
Each Discussion Group was co-led by Member States and supported by the United Nations. Membership included Member States, represented by Ministries of Finance, as well as more than 50 institutional partners – international financial institutions, international organizations, private sector and civil society representatives, think tanks and academic institutions.
The Groups received further logistical, technical and substantive support from 20 specialized UN entities, funds and programmes, and received regular input from United Nations Country Teams. Group co-leads met on several occasions to enhance coordination and coherence across the outcomes of different Groups. Over 50 of the world’s top experts in their fields were also invited to infuse scientific accuracy and cutting-edge research into the outcomes.
28 May 2020, New York
1 July 2020