Revitalizing UNCTAD Principles on the Promotion of Sovereign Lending and Borrowing

06 April 2022
13:30 - 15:00 hrs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unique fiscal challenges for many developing countries. In fighting the pandemic, developing countries around the world have accumulated historic levels of domestic and external debt at an unprecedented pace, raising their level of external indebtedness by US$ 500 billion in 2020 alone, to a cumulative level of US$ 11 trillion by the end of the year (UNCTAD, TDR, 2021). Moreover, the world’s poorest countries have experienced some of the worst of the economic and social fallout associated with the pandemic and are facing a wall of debt repayments up to 2030, drastically undermining their achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Against this challenging backdrop, it is important to strengthen systems and processes that enhance responsible sovereign lending and borrowing to prevent further accumulation of unsustainable debt.

This webinar takes as its point of departure the expertise and best practice developed in the soft-law framework for both lenders and sovereign borrowers, within the UNCTAD Principles of Promoting Responsible Sovereign Lending and Borrowing (2012) (the Principles), the UNCTAD Guidelines for Responsible Sovereign Lending and Borrowing (2013) and the UNCTAD Guide and Roadmap for Sovereign Debt Workouts (2015), to support sustainable and responsible financing practices and regulatory frameworks.

The aim of the Principles is to durably change the behaviour of sovereign lenders and borrowers, with a resulting shift in sovereign borrowing and lending practice. However, the accumulation of unsustainable sovereign debt indicates gaps in the implementation of the framework. Operationalising these Principles more fully can play an essential role in ensuring responsible sovereign lending and borrowing.


Purpose and objectives of the webinar

The webinar forms part of the activities associated with Response and Recovery: Mobilising Financial Resources for development in the time of COVID-19 - a UN Development Account project led by UNCTAD that aims to enable member countries to diagnose their fragilities in the global context and identify and design appropriate policy responses leading toward recovery and return to the development path aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The webinar provides an opportunity to hear about the Principles and ways in which they have been implemented within public debt and policy environments. It brings together those with global knowledge and experience of the Principles, together with policymakers and financial managers in public debt management.

The key objectives and expected outcomes of the event are the following:

  • To create an open dialogue in which member States can gain a better understanding of the strengths of the 15 Principles of Responsible Lending and Borrowing
  • To discuss the implementation of the Principles within different developing countries.
  • To explore ways in which the Principles can be revitalised in the national context.



Moderator: Ms. Penelope Hawkins, Senior Economic Affairs Officer, UNCTAD

13:30–13:40 Welcome address, Dr. Louis Kasekende, Executive Director, MEFMI (5 mins)

Opening remarks Mr Richard Kozul-Wright, Director, Division on Globalization and Development Strategies, UNCTAD (5 mins)

13:40–14:30 Panel discussion

Ms Yuefen Li, former UN Independent Expert on Foreign Debt and Human Rights (15 mins)

Ms. Thea Sofie Rusten Grastveit, Policy Advisor, Debt Justice Norway (15 mins)

Mr. Jacob Mkandawire, Bank of Zambia, and former Director of the Investment and Debt Management Department at the Ministry of Finance in Zambia (15 mins)

14:30–14:55 Open discussion (25 mins)

14:55–15:00 Concluding remarks, MEFMI (5 mins)


Sort by:  Symbol  |  Title  |  Date  |  Agenda item

(UNCTAD/ALDC/AFRICA/2015(E-book)) -  09 Jul 2015
(UNCTAD/OSG/DP/2010/2) -  31 Mar 2010
Macroeconomic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa (MEFMI)

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