The international community needs to establish a post-COVID-19 debt relief initiative to assist Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in their recovery from the public health crisis.
Richard Jones, officer-in-charge at the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC), the host organisation and Chair of the UNCTAD 15 International Civil Society Facilitating Group, made the assertion while delivering introductory remarks and overview of the Civil Society Forum last Thursday.
“With regard to debt and development, civil society is concerned with the rising external debt burdens that continue to absorb a growing share of developing countries’ resources,” Jones said.
“The pandemic has worsened the existing situation of high indebtedness significantly, as many countries have been forced to retreat to the debt markets and amplify their borrowing to maintain their healthcare services and social safety nets, in the face of notable declines in economic output and revenues.
“As a result, there is a need for a post-COVID-19 Debt Relief Initiative for Least Developed States (LDCs), SIDS and other qualifying developing countries to have immediate debt relief to permit economies to tackle the threat of significant increases in poverty and inequalities within these countries.”
This recovery will pave the way for increased focus on technology justice for SIDS, Jones added.
“The intensification of digitalisation post-COVID indicates a shift that is here to stay – with transnational platform behemoths firmly taking control of global value chains.
“We are witnessing not just the expansion of e-commerce marketplaces. Rather, the platform model signals a deep transformation of production relations as data power becomes a proxy for market power.
“Without appropriate rules for the emerging digital context, the international trade regime based on the de facto flow of data from developing to developed countries is reinforcing and deepening economic inequalities among countries.”
Jones also highlighted the significance of establishing a climate justice adaptation and sustainability framework that not only decreases the rapid pace of climate change, but also fosters a sustainable approach to development.
The host organiser noted that these are but a few of the issues that the civil society forum will address and will also include issues related to the blue and green economies and their roles in economic sustainability, poverty reduction, and food security with a focus on SIDS.
“We [also] intend to delve deeper into strategies such as just recovery, adaptation strategies, adequate financing mechanisms and other resilience-building initiatives to address identified concerns.”
Jones underscored the importance of the Civil Society Forum and urged partners to use the platform provided by UNCTAD 15 to “re-energise and refocus” their efforts towards a fairer world.
“[This] a great occasion for us to use our collective voice to make sense of our reality and proffer solutions,” he concluded. (PR)