HLPF Side Event: Exchanges of Innovative Solutions for Debt Relief – Country Experiences and the Role of South-South and Triangular Cooperation

June 18, 2024

  • When: 11 July 2024, 13:00-14:30
  • Where: Doha Conference Room – 304 East 45th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY. A light lunch and refreshments will be served.
  •  Hybrid event: To join online, please click here.

The 2024 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on “Reinforcing the 2030 Agenda and Eradicating Poverty in Times of Multiple Crises: The Effective Delivery of Sustainable, Resilient, and Innovative Solutions” aims to address the unique challenges faced by countries in special situations. This forum will explore the regional and local dimensions of delivering sustainable, resilient, and innovative solutions related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As an outcome of the HLPF, a political declaration will be endorsed that details the priorities of countries, including issues of debt sustainability. In the draft declaration Member States are calling for urgent action to address the debt crisis in developing countries and to reform the global sovereign debt architecture for long-term sustainable management of sovereign debt. 

In this context, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) in partnership with the Government of Sri Lanka, serving as the President of the High-Level Committee on South-South Cooperation, is organizing a joint hybrid side event to discuss these critical issues entitled: “Exchanges of Innovative Solutions for Debt Relief: Country Experiences and the Role of South-South and Triangular Cooperation”. This event aims to harness innovative approaches and experiences on addressing debt distress from a few countries in the Global South. The outcomes of the event are expected to feed into the global conversation on debt mitigation through South-South and triangular cooperation lens as the international community heads towards the Summit of the Future.  

The main objective of the event would be “to unleash South-South and triangular cooperation potential contributions for debt mitigation”. 

Specific objectives:  

  • Platform for Experience Sharing: The event will provide a platform for developing countries and development partners to share their experiences and lessons learned in addressing debt distress. 
  • Identifying Effective Strategies: Participants will identify effective ways to promote debt sustainability through South-South and triangular cooperation. 


Debt distress has become a critical issue for many countries in the Global South, significantly affecting their ability to achieve sustainable development. Countries across Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia are experiencing high levels of debt relative to their Gross Domestic Product (GDP), leading to economic instability and social challenges. The external debt stocks of developing countries reached US$11.4 trillion in 2022, more than double that recorded a decade ago. 

According to the 2024 UNCTAD report on “A world of debt: A growing burden to global prosperity”, global public debt reached a record US$97 trillion in 2024, with developing countries accounting for nearly 30 percent of this total. A total of 54 countries, or almost 40 percent of the developing world, are in serious debt distress. They are dedicating a minimum of 10 percent of their government funds on debt interest payments.  These countries are forced to prioritize debt servicing over essential investments in health, education, and sustainable development, leading to severe socio-economic consequences. Currently, 3.3 billion people live in countries that spend more on interest than education and health. 

The reasons for debt distress in the Global South are multifaceted. The first being, the extensive borrowing from international financial institutions and private creditors driving countries to default on their payment commitments. These loans often come with high interest rates and rigid repayment schedules, creating an environment of financial stress for countries to service their debts.  The borrowing costs of developing countries are higher than those of developed ones. Developing regions borrow at rates that are 2 to 4 times higher than those of the United States and 6 to 12 times higher than those of Germany. 

In addition, economic shocks significantly impact these countries. Fluctuations in global commodity prices can drastically reduce export revenues for countries dependent on commodities, leading to challenges in debt payments. Natural disasters, the effects of climate change, conflicts and other crisis also strain national budgets, compelling countries to borrow more to finance reconstruction and recovery efforts. 

Tentative Agenda

Light lunch (12:30PM – 1:00PM)

1. Welcoming Remarks (1:ooPM – 1:05PM)

  • Ms. Dima Al-Khatib, Director, UNOSSC

2. Opening Remarks (1:o5PM – 1:10PM)

  • H.E. Peter Mohan Maithri Pieris, President of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka

3. Moderated Panel Discussion (1:1oPM – 1:45PM)

Moderator: Ms. Kereeta Whyte, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Barbados

  • H.E. Amb. Stan O. Smith, Permanent Representative of the Bahamas to the UN
  • Mrs. Gabriela González, Minister Counsellor and Deputy Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the UN
  • Mr. Pungkas Bahjuri Ali, Senior Advisor to the Minister on Social Affairs and Poverty Reduction, Ministry of National Development Planning Indonesia and Head of Indonesia’s National SDGs Secretariat
  • Mr. Fred Sesonga, First Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the UN

4. Discussants (1:45PM – 2:00PM)

  • H.E. Gianluca Greco, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN
  • Mr. Thomas Beloe, Director Sustainable Finance Hub, UNDP
  • Mr. Daniel Titelman, Director of the Economic Development Division, UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) (virtual participation)
  • Mr. Amir Hamza Syed, Associate Manager for Global Advocacy, Islamic Development Bank (IsDB)

5. Open Discussion/Q&A (2:00PM – 2:25)

6. Wrap-up (2:25 – 2:30)

  • Ms. Dima Al-Khatib, Director, UNOSSC and H.E. Peter Mohan Pieris