Washington DC—Increased financing and bold leadership are needed to tackle climate change, rising inequality, and surging debt, as increased risks and vulnerabilities threaten economic growth globally, said United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Achim Steiner at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) spring meetings .
“We still have a global financial and economic system that is not responding to the needs for the scale and type of finance that is required for sustainable development,” he said in his statement on behalf of the United Nations, to the 99th Meeting of the Development Committee. He also emphasized this during the Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the G20, where he represented the UN. “Bold climate action could trigger US$26 trillion in economic benefit by 2030, create more than 65 million jobs, and help 700,000 people avoid premature death. We need smart policies and investments now to bridge growing gaps not just in income, but in dignity, opportunity, and quality of life.”
By 2050, financing transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy will require investment of at least US$60 trillion. Steiner said that public finance clearly won’t be enough and it must be leveraged to mobilize more private finance.
He repeated these sentiments at the launch of the Finance Ministers Coalition for Climate Action, hailing their leadership and highlighting their central role in supporting national climate strategies. “We do not have to choose between economic prosperity and action on climate. Both are possible. Just consider the breathtaking innovation and transformation in our energy and mobility sectors.”
Steiner also addressed the looming debt crisis many developing countries face. IMF-World Bank analyses find 40 percent of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and low-income countries face debt distress or high risk of debt distress, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Against the above backdrop, there is need for a comprehensive policy and programmatic support to the LDCs to ensure enhanced debt management and sound macroeconomic policies but also importantly, bringing development financing to scale, said said Steiner at a Ministerial Breakfast for LDCs. “As an international community, we need to leverage our global presence, partnerships, knowledge and expertise to ensure that the countries we serve do not fall back into debt crises.” Steiner reiterated these themes in his statement to 39th Meeting of the International Monetary and Financial Committee saying, “Developing countries as a group have become more exposed to global finance. While this has provided much-needed access to finance, it has also left them more vulnerable and susceptible to contagion.”
He also spoke about the need to address soaring inequality in a number of areas, “Inequalities are prevalent in access to quality education, health, and technologies as well as vulnerability to shocks, among other areas. We also see persistent gender disparities across the world. Inequality limits people’s choices and opportunities and engenders political and social tensions and global inefficiencies.”