April 15, 2024

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Paris Summit: Commonwealth and OIF stress need for Vulnerability Index

Paris, France  – The Commonwealth Secretariat and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) joined forces this week to convene a high-level side event during the Paris Summit for a New Global Financial Pact on June 22. The side event focused on the measures required to: ‘Take account of multidimensional vulnerability in the allocation of new development funding’.

Recognising the shared responsibility towards countries highly susceptible to exogenous shocks, particularly the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), landlocked nations, and small island developing states (SIDS), the Commonwealth and OIF highlighted their commitment to addressing the economic, social, and environmental ramifications of the multiple crises facing vulnerable nations. The Paris Summit serves as a vital platform to deliberate on how to reform development financing and deliver more effective assistance to nations.

The panel featured interventions by: The Rt. Hon. Patricia SCOTLAND, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, H.E. Mrs. Louise MUSHIKIWABO, Secretary-General of La Francophonie, H.E. Mr. Assoumani AZALI, President of the Union of Comoros, current Chairman of the African Union, H.E. Mrs. Erna SOLBERG, Co-chair of the High-level Panel of the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI), former Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Norway an H.E. Mr. Abdoulaye DIOP, President of the Commission of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).

During the discussion, the panellists emphasised the urgent need for a global effort to swiftly implement new financing mechanisms for sustainable development that prioritise countries with the greatest need. These mechanisms should consider the structural vulnerabilities beyond GNI per capita. To achieve this goal, all participants deemed it necessary to adopt a universal index reflecting various dimensions of a country’s structural vulnerability and to utilise it in the allocation of funding.

Speaking at the event, Secretary-General Scotland said:

“In the 21st Century, how can it be possible that the access to concessional finance is centred around such a blunt instrument as GNI per capita? How can we tolerate a reality which means the most crisis-affected countries are exposed to rates of nearly 15% on their borrowing, while wealthier nations can borrow at between 1-4%?  How can we knowingly and wilfully perpetuate a system which fails to factor in the real vulnerabilities that countries face in the decision-making process?  The fundamental answer is that we cannot – and we should not.  We need a deeper and more credible understanding of vulnerability, which is underpinned by quality data.”

Secretary-General Mushikiwabo said:

“The OIF and the Commonwealth, together representing two-thirds of the global system, acknowledge the imperative for a vulnerability index that accounts for our countries’ unique characteristics and climate change. It is an urgent matter, and we are committed to working on it collaboratively.”

Following the panel, Secretary-General Scotland and Secretary-General Mushikiwabo continued their discussion to refine a shared roadmap for the adoption and implementation of the vulnerability index. They agreed to organise a joint working session in early September, ahead of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly in New York.

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