2020 starts the ten-year countdown for the successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is also a critical period for a just response to climate change, ensuring that those who are the least responsible do not pay the greatest price.
Here, Eurodad Director Jean Saldanha explores some of the issues Eurodad will tackle in 2020:
1. A fair resolution to unsustainable debt
UNCTAD’s 2019 Trade and Development Report warned: “A spluttering North, a general slowdown in the South, and rising levels of debt everywhere are hanging ominously over the global economy; these, combined with increased market volatility, a fractured multilateral system and mounting uncertainty, are framing the immediate policy challenge.”
The worsening debt picture across the Global South is being translated into daily headlines of social and political unrest, as more countries are plunged into crisis, suffering sharp increases in debt payments linked to the changing nature of their financing sources.
There is now a growing recognition that current debt dynamics in the Global South are putting immense strain on the international system for debt crisis resolution, and that future restructurings will present ever-more complex challenges to orderly and fair outcomes. Eurodad will focus on the need to put in place a system for crisis resolution at the UN.
The additional challenges that climate change poses to countries already struggling with unsustainable debt levels will be an added dimension of this advocacy work. In coalition with our partners in the global debt justice movement, we will promote approaches to loss and damage financing linked to debt relief, and explore a more comprehensive approach to debt sustainability which better captures impacts on the enjoyment of human rights, gender equality, and development and climate goals. Key to this will also be shining a spotlight on the impacts of the current debt crisis on public services.
2. Effective and sustainable development policies at the EU
While there is cause for concern, there is also cause for optimism that EU and international processes taking place this year will play a positive and defining role.
The new European Commission sent a clear signal by tabling a ‘Green New Deal’ within a month of coming into office. The European Council has also spearheaded a process to review the current European financial architecture for development.
Related but independent to these projects, negotiations on the future of Europe’s Multiannual Financial Framework – the EU budget for the period 2021-2027 – and the newly packaged development cooperation instrument, the ‘Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument’ continue. Eurodad is concerned that foreign affairs and commercial interest risk diluting the development focus of these projects. Therefore, it will be important to ensure that some of the key founding principles of the EU - solidarity, cooperation and subsidiarity - are upheld not only at home but also in its relations with the rest of the world. The principles of development effectiveness and policy coherence for sustainable development must be upheld.
3. Advocating for tax justice
Tax remains a vital source of funding for development and climate action. A key political discussion in 2020 will be about whether the public will be allowed to know where multinational corporations have business activity, and how much tax they pay, in each country where they operate. This information is indispensable not only to tax authorities but also to parliamentarians, media and civil society so that they can actively contribute to the national debate on how to tax multinational corporations.
Ultimately, tax avoidance and evasion are global problems that require a global solution. There is increasing recognition of the value of unitary taxation and a minimum effective corporate tax rate.
Eurodad will engage in this debate with the aim making multinational corporations pay their share of tax, and at the same time ensure that decisions on global tax rules are made in an intergovernmental forum where all countries can participate on a truly equal footing. The United Nations is still the only truly universal body, and therefore the appropriate place to decide on new global tax rules and norms. Together with our partners and allies, the Global Alliance for Tax Justice, Tax Justice Europe and the Financial Transparency Coalition, we will work to ensure that development priorities are at the centre of tax debates.
4. Working to ensure the private sector prioritises development instead of profit
Coalitions at both global and European level will be necessary to weigh-in on discussions on the role of development finance, particularly the trend to rely on private finance to fill the SDG and green finance gap.
In the first few weeks of the year, JP Morgan announced the launch of a new ‘Development Finance Institution.’ A ‘Climate Finance Partnership’ between German and French government authorities and private actors including asset manager BlackRock was also announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
To counter this accelerating trend – which lacks adequate public debate on associated risks, particularly the impact on the delivery of gender sensitive, fully accessible and qualitative public service delivery - Eurodad and partners will continue to play an active role in policy discussions at the EU, OECD and UN.
Eurodad will continue to investigate whether (and under what conditions) ‘blended finance’ and public private partnerships (PPPs) can contribute to sustainable development. The International Financial Institutions and their promotion of greater austerity will also be an important focus of our monitoring and advocacy work in this regard.
5. A challenge, but one we can meet
We recognise that a complex mix of factors impact on the public finance that countries have to fulfil their human rights commitments, while staying within the limits of the planet’s resources and combating climate change.
We therefore aim to provide more cross-policy analysis and research and put more emphasis on financial sector regulation in our policy work.
Most of all, we know that we will not succeed in any of our endeavours if we do not address factors that reinforce or increase gender equality. Eurodad will therefore integrate gender equality into policy and practice throughout our organisation and advocacy work in 2020.