The world’s biggest issues are getting more and more urgent by the day, and we need leaders to step up and prevent the worst from happening. With just six years until the UN’s 2030 deadline to achieve the Global Goals aimed at ending extreme poverty, it appears we are slipping backwards rather than charging forwards.

Global conflict has increased by 12%, 238 million people across 48 countries are experiencing acute food insecurity, the climate crisis’ extreme weather patterns are  toying with the earth, and the world’s poorest countries are deeply indebted to those who actually have the power and resources to change the status quo. 

From April 19 - 21, the world’s biggest financial institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Forum (IMF), will host their annual Spring Meetings. These meetings bring together world leaders, global ministries, and UN officials to discuss how to financially handle growing urgent matters and to work towards global financial stability. 

As the financial heavyweights prepare for these meetings, Global Citizen is calling on G20 leaders to do what’s in their power to alleviate poverty by prioritizing three major steps: 

1. Boost investment for the world’s poorest countries through the IDA.

The International Development Association (IDA) is part of the World Bank and its purpose is to provide grants and affordable loans to the world’s poorest and most indebted countries at very low interest rates. 

It’s historically been funded through contributions from wealthy countries for the most part. However, as low-income countries are dealing with ever-mounting debt burdens, there's a clear need for more funding, especially grant-based funding — the difference being that loans need to be paid back, whereas grants do not.

Global Citizen's campaign aims to advocate for ambitious support for the IDA, including a fundraising target of at least $100 billion, with the aim of tripling the IDA over the next three replenishment cycles. 

In basic terms, the aim is that when the IDA opens its piggy bank up for finances to help the world’s poorest, we’re hoping that the amount of money that goes into it every year, triples from what it is now over the next three years. 

This can be made possible if donor countries boost their contributions. We need the G20 to signal that they are ready to increase their direct contributions to the IDA, and for them to commit to doing so. 

2. Implement debt pause clauses as a temporary solution to crippling debt. 

We’ve spoken at length about debt pause clauses over the last year, if you’re not sure what they are, we’ve got you covered with our explainer here. They’re a pause on debt repayments from poorer countries to the wealthy countries they owe, so that the poorer countries can use their finances on the urgent development issues they face. 

While some headway was made last year at the Paris Financial Summit and the COP28 climate conference, more needs to be done to make sure these pauses are implemented. 

Right now, only the UK, France, the US, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the European Investment Bank have announced implementing these clauses — only for natural disasters and for a limited set of countries.

To relieve the financial burdens of indebted lower-income countries, we need:

  • The list of countries implementing pause clauses to include all G20 members and their relevant financial institutions. 
  • These same countries should implement these clauses for other external shocks such as endemics and famines. 
  • That the debt pause clauses be offered free of cost, or at very low rates. 

However, we should also note that debt pause clauses are only one piece of the puzzle. What we  need is more progress on the restructuring of debt for countries struggling with solvency; also large-scale solutions for countries undergoing liquidity problems. For right now, however, our advocacy call is for the implementation of pause clauses. 

3. Introduce tax and levy options for the world’s wealthiest people & its biggest polluters.

With conflict and climate change increasing the financial pressure on the backs of countries in need, and countries including the UK, Germany, and France cutting their Official Development Assistance (ODA), we need to get creative about where the additional money to address pressing issues comes from. 

A compelling solution is specific tax and levy options on undertaxed and highly polluting sectors to ensure that those who are currently profiting from global crises start paying for the solutions to those challenges.  

Potential taxing options include, but are not limited to:  

  • A global minimum tax on high-net value individuals — in other words, billionaires. 
  • Financial Transaction Tax in G20 countries — meaning the tax of stock market transactions.  
  • Fossil Fuel Taxes — applied to each extraction of fossil fuels, or to the corporations that are benefiting from fossil fuel extractions. 

Global Citizen is calling on countries to join the new task force working on taxes and levies. It’s co-chaired by France, Kenya, and Barbados, and those who are part of it will engage in, and shape, important discussions to unlock new and additional financing for climate and development investments. The task force’s first official meeting will take place on the margins of the Spring Meetings. 

Global Citizen is not alone in this overall call for change, some of the world’s most influential people such as Dr Joyce Banda, Graça Machel, Mo Ibrahim, Annie Lennox, Nile Rogers, Nomzamo Mbatha, and more have added their signatures to this crucial call. We’re asking you to do the same, to add your voice to our petition urging G20 leaders to step up and make a real difference. 


Demand Equity

Urgent Call to G20 Leaders: The World Needs You to Be the Difference

By Khanyi Mlaba