Rebirthing the Global Economy to Deliver Sustainable Development

Overview on the Women Economist roundtables

Following on from the High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond, convened by the Prime Minister of Canada, the Prime Minister of Jamaica and the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 28 May 2020, the Secretary-General launched a three part series of roundtables entitled “Rebirthing the Global Economy to Deliver Sustainable Development.” The Roundtables convened renowned economists - practitioners, policy makers and academics—to address the global economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis and to offer people-centered solutions for achieving meaningful, lasting, and transformative progress.

The first Roundtable gathered renowned women economists to discuss three critical issues impacted by COVID-19: external finance, debt, and international trade. The second Roundtable convened young women economists to narrow in on two pressing issues for youth: jobs and climate action. The third Roundtable will convene a gender-balanced panel to provide an overview of the process. Sustainability and inclusion are cross-cutting themes central to all three panels.

Roundtable One: Insights from Women Leaders

1 July 2020—8 a.m.- 10 a.m. EDT

The First Roundtable, “Insights from Young Women Leaders”, launched the three-part series on “Rebirthing the Global Economy to Deliver Sustainable Development.” The panel was moderated by BBC journalist Zeinab Badawi and gathered 13 renowned women economists from in and outside the UN system.

Discussions centered on the elements that need to be addressed at global and systemic levels, including three topics which require urgent attention and which have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19: external finance, debt and international trade.

With the crisis forcing a digital shift, a number of the economists advocated investments in closing the digital divide in order to reap benefits across education, health, and innovation. Empowering people to drive progress emerged as a key theme of the discussion, with many advocating a move away from older, piecemeal approaches to development and toward more comprehensive and effective interventions that can re-shape the global economy. Economists emphasized the value to be gained by investing in women, point out that their families and societies as a whole would benefit.

A number of experts agreed on the need to attach conditions to stimulus funds and debt relief, for example to incentivize environmental sustainability and gender equality. There was widespread consensus that crisis response must be linked to policies for building back better. The economists also called for bold and imaginative approaches to prevent a debt crisis, agreeing on the need to free developing countries from the vicious cycle of desperate dependence on external help for more loans, trade, and development.