World leaders listen to opening speeches at the New Global Financial Pact Summit in Paris World leaders listen to opening speeches at the New Global Financial Pact Summit in Paris 

UN seeks new financial system to support crisis-hit nations

Some 40 world leaders are gathering in Paris to work out a United Nations-backed new global financing pact. The gathering in the French capital includes a proposed pause in debt repayments for nations facing poverty and disasters.

By Stefan J. Bos 

Leaders in Paris began discussing ways to give poorer countries access to hundreds of billions of dollars to tackle what they view as dangerous climate change and other crises.

Among the delegates is the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Nearly eighty years after the Bretton Woods Agreement created the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, he proposed a new global financial pact and system to help impoverished countries. "There will be no serious solutions to the crisis [without] serious reforms. That is why I have called for a new Bretton Woods moment, a moment for governments to come together and re-examine and reconfigure the global financial architecture for the 21st century," he stressed.  

Guterres added that "because we work for the deep reforms that are needed,  we can take urgent action today to meet the urgent needs of developing and emerging economies. That is why I propose a necessary stimulus of 500 billion U.S. dollars each year for investments in sustainable development and climate action."   

The World Bank chief has already announced several measures to aid countries hit by natural disasters, including a pause in debt repayments to the lender.

That was music to the ears of Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley.

More support needed

Many of the topics on the agenda take up suggestions from a group of developing countries led by Mottley, dubbed the 'Bridgetown Initiative.'

Mottley, Barbados' first female prime minister, suggested that poorer nations need more support because they did little to cause climate change but face its worst effects. "As I speak to you, my country...and others in the Caribbean, in the eastern Caribbean, are under a tropical storm watch, for Tropical Storm Bret literally," she told her audience.

"Yesterday, I had to decide whether to stay [at the summit] or to go. And I choose to stay because it is important that we move to action."

She noted that "behind Tropical Storm Bret is another [storm] system, and hence this is our new reality," Mottley added.       

While binding decisions were not expected, her emotionally charged appeal underscored what officials said was the summit's commitment to financing impoverished countries.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report

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22 June 2023, 17:22