Climate Action in the Time of Debt Distress – Special Session at the Third Annual Conference of the Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment

Key information

12:00 PM to 1:00 PM
Virtual Event

About this event

Alicia Bárcena (Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean)

A global debt crisis is looming. Even before COVID-19 swept the world, the International Monetary Fund deemed global public debt burdens a high risk for the majority of developing countries – noting that half of the lower-income countries were ‘at high risk of or already in debt distress.’ As the COVID crisis worsens, developing countries face steep output contractions, while the COVID relief and recovery effort demands a massive upscaling of expenditures.

This new, systemic debt crisis emerges at a critical time when the global climate crisis demands the urgent mobilisation of huge efforts on mitigation and adaptation. Moreover, partly driven by policy, partly by technological disruption, fossil fuels are transitioning from being an asset to a liability, amounting to a third systemic crisis sweeping capital markets and the developing world. It is at the intersection of these three systemic crises that new and innovative answers need to be found, breaking through silos of international policy making.

Against this backdrop, the SOAS Centre for Sustainable Finance together with the Global Development Center at Boston University and Heinrich Böll Foundation is organising a special session to discuss solutions for addressing the debt crisis in the Global South while enabling far-reaching action for climate adaptation and mitigation. In particular, it will examine the options for debt rescheduling that will allow for people-centered investments that address climate change and inequality by leaving fossil fuels in the ground, and investing in climate adaptation while expanding job and livelihood opportunities.

Participation is free but registration for the 3rd Annual GRASFI Conference is necessary.


Alicia Bárcena (Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean)

Panel Discussion

Jean-Paul Adam (Director for Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resources Management in the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa)

Shamshad Akhtar (Chair of the Board of Directors, Karandaaz Pakistan & Member, Global Advisory Board, SOAS Centre for Sustainable Finance, SOAS University of London)

Stephany Griffith Jones (Financial Markets Program Director, Initiative for Policy Dialogue, Columbia University)

Romina Picolotti (President, Center for Human Rights and Environment & Climate Change Senior Advisor, Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development)


Ulrich Volz (Director, Centre for Sustainable Finance, SOAS University of London)

Organiser: Centre for Sustainable Finance

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