While loan and bond financing are actively promoted by the G20 and the World Bank, the IMF is warning of the risk of a new sovereign debt crisis resulting from a combination of low global interest rates, low commodity prices, and a new wave of infrastructure financing in the Global South. Civil Society groups in both North and South echo these concerns and – as part of the 2030 Agenda, Addis Ababa Agenda and Paris Agreement – underscore the fact that targeted debt workout mechanisms need to be in place before more and more countries are faced with either default on their debt or austerity policies of the sort that have caused great social unrest in the 1980s, 1990s and following the most recent financial crisis.
This breakfast roundtable looked at one innovative proposal based on lessons from the HIPC/MDRI initiatives of the 1990s and 2000s: overcoming political deadlocks by designing debt relief exclusively for a limited group of countries. The keynote address launched a new publication by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and Erlassjahr outlining how a limited debt relief scheme could facilitate procedural innovations to remedy existing weaknesses in the HIPC/MDRI schemes and in debt restructuring mechanisms at large, by making them more comprehensive and impartial. Following the keynote, Member States and experts from the multilateral system and civil society engaged in a moderated roundtable discussion.