Webinar > Growing Out of Debt


On 4 July 2023, the work was brought together in an ERF organized online Webinar, with FDL, Red Sur, and IDRC: ‘Growing Out of Debt: Perspectives from Developing Countries Around the World’ to present findings from this research, highlight tensions and trade-offs generated by the debt difficulties across the countries studied, and explore policy recommendations from a Southern perspective.

Panelists addressed the financial, economic, social and developmental effects of ongoing debt difficulties, and their possible implications and priorities for domestic policy. From across the developing world, six case studies from the Middle East and North Africa region (Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, and Jordan), three from Latin America and the Caribbean (Bolivia, Honduras, and Paraguay), and three from Sub-Saharan Africa (Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Uganda) were shared.

The case studies exhibited a variety of challenges in low and lower-middle-income countries regarding public debt dynamics, fiscal policy, and development outcomes. They indicate that there are some differences across regions to compute and some within-region heterogeneities to consider.

The Webinar had a total of 138 online attendees, out of which:


  • 59 were from the MENA region (countries include Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, North Africa, Turkey and Gulf countries).
  • 28 from Africa (Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Nigeria)
  • 27 from Europe (Belgium, France, UK, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Norway)
  • 21 from the USA, Canada and South America (Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia, Etc.)
  • 3 other nationalities.

The exchanges revealed common challenges across the developing world that need to be tackled globally and great potential for peer learning to achieve debt, social, and environmental sustainability and on how to involve international financial institutions (IFIs) and multilateral development banks (MDBs) in the process. 

It was also an initial exploration of the policy recommendations. The webinar formed the basis for the preparation of a more advanced webinar after the papers have been finalized, with more focus on policy recommendations and implications for the work of the IFIs. This would be around September, in the run up to the IMF World Bank October meeting in Morocco.

Structure of event: Two rounds of focused remarks to bring the evidence together after a welcome and general introduction about recent debt context and events, especially the Paris Summit. The first round was about the debt contexts in each country/region, while the second round focused on policy recommendations from the different country/region perspectives.

Round 1: Reflections from cases studies on the following questions:

  • Nature and severity of debt challenges. Liquidity versus insolvency. Composition of debt: domestic – external, creditor heterogeneity.
  • Impact of debt tensions: refinancing; fiscal policy (expenditure, taxation).
  • Liquidity and reforms: how to commit to reforms, choice austerity vs growth, short vs long-term planning, social cohesion.


Round 2: From the perspectives of these countries, what changes in global rules, reform of IFIs, etc. are needed to address the crucial needs of developing countries:

  • Rules for debt restructuring.
  • Access to liquidity (ST and LT, incl for climate).
  • Integration of environmental sustainability, climate action, gender equality, and inclusion into debt assessments and restructuring.
  • MDB reforms.


Below is a summary of ideas exchanged post seminar between researchers to feed into the ongoing dialogue, and into a future research agenda:


A new world for debt management (compared to the debt crisis of the 1908s-90s), which offers new opportunities, and with also greater and more diverse risks:


  • Domestic and external debt, and multiple creditor types.
  • New types of shocks, incl. climate, social contract related (with influences over politics and institutions),
  • With a still unchanged global financial safety net, now clearly in need of reform.


In this frame, many new questions arise, relating to both domestic policies and to the global safety net, where answers can be enriched by country perspectives:


  • How are the concepts of illiquidity and insolvency affected (and how should DSAs be reformed)?
  • Illiquidity as a coordination failure among creditors and implications for global safety net, including IMF reforms;
  • What is an optimal mix of domestic and external debts?
  • New effects of adjustment policies and implications (e.g. effect of devaluation on domestic debt and on the financial system);
  • New debt management instruments, such as innovation in bonds clauses, debt for nature swaps, credit enhancements;
  • How to get back on a growth path after debt crises and debt restructuring?


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El objetivo de este webinar organizado por ERF, FDL, IDRC y Red Sur es presentar diferentes contextos de deuda e identificar implicaciones políticas comunes.

Antecedentes: conjunto de proyectos:  Varios proyectos financiados por el IDRC están produciendo una docena de estudios de caso de países en desarrollo de todo el mundo sobre los efectos financieros, económicos, sociales y de desarrollo de las dificultades actuales de la deuda, y sus posibles implicaciones y prioridades para la política nacional. Seis estudios de caso proceden de la región de Oriente Medio y Norte de África (Egipto, Líbano, Túnez, Marruecos, Sudán y Jordania), tres de América Latina y el Caribe (Bolivia, Honduras y Paraguay) y tres del África Subsahariana (Etiopía, Nigeria y Uganda).


Las dificultades de la deuda se deben en parte a la serie de shocks adversos que afectan a la economía mundial desde el COVID-19, pasando por la guerra de Ucrania, hasta la lucha contra la inflación, que en algunos casos han exacerbado debilidades estructurales internas preexistentes. Los impactos van mucho más allá de la sostenibilidad fiscal y la necesidad de consolidación fiscal, afectando a los patrones de crecimiento económico, inclusión social y bienestar.  

Los estudios de caso muestran una variedad de retos en los países de renta baja y media-baja en relación con la dinámica de la deuda pública, la política fiscal y los resultados de desarrollo. Hay algunas diferencias entre regiones y algunas heterogeneidades dentro de una misma región a tener en cuenta. Estos estudios de casos también revelan retos comunes en todo el mundo en desarrollo que deben abordarse globalmente. Por último, hay margen para el aprendizaje entre pares a la hora de encontrar formas de lograr la sostenibilidad de la deuda, social y medioambiental, y las implicaciones para el trabajo de las instituciones financieras internacionales (IFI) y los bancos multilaterales de desarrollo (BMD) en el proceso.


Más información sobre el evento