Debt and Climate Finance: Faith Perspectives and Proposals

A side event of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank's Civil Society Policy Forum Spring Meetings 2022

a woman selling bananas at a street market in Brazil

Barbados: 11 April, 08h00-09h30

Fiji: 12 April, 00h00-01h30

Geneva: 11 April, 14h00-15h30

Washington DC and New York, USA: 11 April, 08h00-09h30

Philippines: 11 April, 20h00-21h30

In this side-event promoted by the World Council of Churches, World Communion of Reformed Churches, Council for World Mission, World Methodist Conference, and Lutheran World Federation, church and community leaders as well as experts from climate-vulnerable countries will share lived experiences and case studies on the intersections between debt and climate change.

In dialogue with the World Bank, they will bring proposals for responding to the debt crisis as well as financing climate change adaptation and resilience-building. The session will highlight the moral imperative to tackle the debt-climate nexus, prevent needless human suffering and promote planetary restoration. 

Participation at this event is by invitation only.

Watch the livestream 


Panellists’ Bios

Sarah Jane Ahmed is Founder of the Financial Futures Center and serves as a Finance Advisor to the Vulnerable Group of Twenty (V20) Ministers of Finance of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF). She is one of three recipients of the 2021 Climate Breakthrough Award. Sara’s previous roles include advisory positions at the Climate Change Commission in the Office of the President in the Philippines, the United Nations Development Programme, the Asian Development Bank, and the World Resources Institute. She holds a master’s degree in finance from the Simon Graduate School of Business in the University of Rochester and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Knox College. She also sits on the advisory board of the Global Renewables Congress and Climate Smart Ventures. Sarah contributed to the 2021 Brot für die Welt (Bread for the World) publication on “Climate Change, Debt and COVID-19” 

Rev James Bhagwan is a Methodist Pastor in Fiji and General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches (www.pcc.org.fj), a fellowship of 27 churches and nine member councils of churches in 17 island states and territories in the Pacific. Under his leadership, the PCC continues to be a prominent voice on climate change, participating in the UNFCCC COPs to speak on what is a matter of life and death for Pacific people, partnering with governments to design and accompany national relocation policies and programmes for climate-displaced communities, implementing carbon sequestration programmes with the Ministry of Forests to plant native forests, and reflecting on alternative economic and ecological paradigms via the Reweaving the Ecological Mat Framework.  James is a leading theologian from the Pacific who has contributed on themes of economic and ecological justice.  

David Comissiong is presently the Government of Barbados’ Ambassador to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). David is an activist, lawyer, and politician. He is the Chairperson of the Peoples Empowerment Party (PEP), and Founder of the Clement Payne Movement (CPM), a progressive civil society organisation. David has been involved in public life in Barbados for over 20 years. He was appointed to the Senate in 1986 and at that time was the youngest senator in the history of Barbados.  David is the author of the 2013 book, “It's the Healing of the Nation: The Case For Reparations In An Era of Recession and Re-colonisation.”

Léa Hakim is Senior Economist in the World Bank's Global Macro and Debt Analytics team and Program Manager of the Debt Management Facility, a multi-donor trust fund that provides advisory on debt management, debt transparency and related issues to 86 developing countries. She has over 15 years of international experience in economic policy issues including macroeconomic monitoring and policy-advice, debt management reform and climate change finance. Before joining the World Bank in 2014 as Country Economist for Jordan, Léa was Senior Economic Officer at the Lebanese Ministry of Finance, providing economic and fiscal policy advice. Léa holds an M.A. in International and Development Economics from Yale University, is a Fulbright scholar and passionate about public policy, sustainable development and the performing arts.

Barry Herman is a member of the Board of Social Justice in Global Development (www.socdevjustice.org), an international civil society member of the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors. He is also a member of the Ecumenical Panel on a New International Financial and Economic Architecture (NIFEA). After a career in the United Nations of 30 years, Barry returned to academia and taught for a decade at the Julien J. Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs at The New School in New York. He has a PhD in economics from the University of Michigan and continues to publish on sovereign debt, financing social protection, global economic governance, and other international financial issues.

Valerie Hickey is Practice Manager of the World Bank Group’s Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice. She joined the World Bank as a technical specialist in East Asia and the Pacific, working on biodiversity projects and environmental safeguards. Valerie has since worked across the Bank’s regions providing design and implementation support to a variety of operations. As chair of the biodiversity and wildlife crime communities of practice, Valerie convenes the Bank’s deep technical expertise in pursuit of providing policy advice and implementation support to improve the role of natural resource management in poverty alleviation and green growth. Valerie represents the World Bank in international conventions related to biodiversity. She also leads the Bank’s work on two global biodiversity grant-making operations, namely the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund and the Save Our Species Program. Valerie holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Policy from Duke University.