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Colombia Leads a Group of Countries that Will Request an Exchange of Debt for Climate Action at the UN


Colombia deuda acción climática
The president of Colombia will take to the UN, together with other countries, the request to exchange debt for climate action – Credit: Presidencia / Cristian Garavito

Colombia, along with France, Kenya, and Ghana, is preparing a proposal for a debt-for-climate action swap to present to the United Nations General Assembly and at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28). President Petro is leading the group of countries advocating for this approach as a concrete action in the fight against climate change by emerging nations.

It’s worth noting that the Colombian government has been working on this initiative for months; when it was communicated to the United States and the European Union they expressed interest and agreed to study the proposal.

Petro Announces the Measure

The Colombian president made the announcement during the closing of the fourth session of the Summit of Public Development Banks (FICS) on September 6 in Cartagena.

This meeting, which Colombia hosted for the first time, brought together senior representatives from financial organizations and public development banks worldwide, with a total of 520 state banks from around the world.

“Accumulated capital-driven growth led to the climate crisis,” Petro said in his closing speech at the World Banks Summit in Cartagena, Bolivar.

The Proposal

Gustavo Petro explained that the proposal involves a “global issuance of IMF Special Drawing Rights to pay creditors, reduce the debt service of all countries worldwide, and free up budgetary financial space for public authorities to enable a Marshall Plan against the global climate crisis.”

“It’s repeating what we did with COVID, but with different proportions among countries and with one goal: a relaunch of the world economy. The issuance would bring economic growth but with a focus on an objective, which is investments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) on the planet,” said the Colombian president.

Colombia Finds Allies

Colombia initiated the idea, but it has found allies in other countries. The goal is to present it strongly to the global assembly to demonstrate that the majority of emerging countries, which are not the largest polluters, are willing to collaborate in a fight that is necessarily global and on a planetary scale.

“An expert team from France, Kenya, Ghana, and Colombia was created to present it as a comprehensive proposal, conceptually refined, at the upcoming COP and United Nations meeting in New York. Hopefully, these events will go beyond rhetoric and allow the construction of instruments to enhance life on the planet,” concluded the president in his speech to the representatives of financial entities.

The United Nations General Assembly will take place in New York at the end of this month of September, while COP28 will be held in Dubai from November 30 to December 12 this year.

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