16 Sept 09 - Civil Society discuss economic crisis, debt and climate change

 UNCTAD's hearing with civil society and the private sector debated the global economic crisis, its effects and possible policy responses. The meeting provided an opportunity for civil society representatives to continue their dialogue with UNCTAD on the follow-up to the Public Symposium and the United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and to express their views on the immediate challenges related to debt and climate change.

Participants highlighted concern about the current debate and solutions, which they indicated, do not reflect the concerns and needs of developing countries. They stressed the need for a common, but differentiated, crisis response that was humane, fair and equitable. Civil society representatives hailed the G-192 Consensus for its inclusiveness and its substance, which went beyond the analysis of the problématique into crisis resolution and follow up.

Civil society representatives indicated that the crisis will impact heavily on the debt of developing countries — particularly LDCs — and that the loss of export-linked revenue will hamper their budgets, which will in turn lead to a new cycle of indebtedness.

Participants supported UNCTAD's proposal to set up a debt moratorium as a basic mechanism for sound budgetary policy. They also called on UNCTAD to continue its work on various aspects related to institutional finance and for further cooperation and synergy with ILO, particularly in relation to its Global Job Pact adopted in June 2009.

On climate change, civil society urged developed economies to take the lead in tackling climate-related challenges. They said intellectual property rights (IPR) regimes should be fine-tuned to encourage research and the use of green technologies, including knowledge transfer to developing countries. Further, it was said that payment of the climate debt, in the broader framework of ecological debt, must be in addition to — and not in lieu of — existing official development assistance (ODA) allocation. They called on developing countries to adapt measures to better use their natural resources and to promote green technologies — by importing from abroad and through domestic research — and urged them to continue their active participation and engagement in the ongoing debate in order to ensure their concerns are adequately addressed.

Participants at the hearing included representatives of civil society organizations from developed and developing countries, officials from member States and intergovernmental organizations.

Ms. Sanya Reid Smith from the Third World Network, Geneva presented the summary of the hearing to the closing plenary of the Trade and Development Board on 25 September.

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