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Tackling the triple crisis. Using debt swaps to address debt, climate and nature loss post-COVID-19

Paul Steele, Sejal Patel

Issue paper, 48 pages

Even before COVID-19, fears were growing over developing country debt, which had surpassed US$8 trillion by the end of 2019. The pandemic has made the situation much worse as its economic impact pushes millions more women, children and men in these countries into poverty. This paper shows how, as part of pandemic economic rescue packages, governments have an opportunity to address simultaneously the crises of debt, climate and biodiversity destruction through a new use of the system of debt for climate and nature programme swaps. Increasing the use of these types of debt swaps would benefit lender and debtor governments as well as private creditors.

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In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, urgent debt relief is needed. This is an opportunity to change how debt relief is addressed and delivered. Over the next two years, IIED will be working to have creditors and receiving countries take up climate and nature programme swaps – a system that makes it possible to tackle the debt, climate change and nature emergencies together, in order to reduce poverty and ensure an inclusive and sustainable post-COVID recovery.

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Tackling the debt, climate and nature crises together

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