The head of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is calling for a debt relief, as well as equitable access to new technologies, for middle-income countries.
The 110 middle-income countries, which account for three-quarters of the global population and nearly one-third of global gross domestic product (GDP), are central drivers of global development, said UNGA President Csaba Korosi during a General Assembly high-level meeting on middle-income countries.
“Your geographies, ecosystems, cultures, and economies are incredibly diverse — with varying vulnerabilities. Some of you encounter frequent drought and desertification, while others face tropical storms and sea-level rise. But all of you face the common challenge of establishing your capacity to cope with these extreme conditions in ways that ensure resilience,” he said.
Korosi said it is time to get serious about debt relief in middle-income countries, which host the majority of the extremely poor in the world.
In the torrent of today’s global crises, some countries have been forced to prioritize short-term economic goals over longer-term aims. In many countries, including small island developing states, high public debt service is crowding out investment in green, resilient and equitable transformation, he noted.
Various debt-relief instruments can be considered. The debt-for-climate or debt-for-nature swaps offer a win-win for debtors, creditors and donors to meet national development objectives in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, said Korosi.
He noted that the International Monetary Fund’s Resilience and Sustainability Trust and Food Shock Window, along with the loss and damage fund agreed on at the latest UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt, open avenues to expand contingency financing to countries in need.
Middle-income countries need equitable access to new technologies, science and innovation that spur resilience in the long run, said Korosi.
This is a shared charge, and international partnership is key. The revitalized Global Partnership for Sustainable Development is an important vehicle for strengthening this worldwide cooperation, he said.
It is also time for the international community to go beyond GDP as the primary measure of development, since GDP has never been designed for that, he said.
“We need a measurement that captures… the total assets of a nation since its balanced growing is the essence of sustainable development,” he added.
Currently, 90 countries compile the System of Environmental Economic Accounting, he said, encouraging more governments to do so.
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