COVID-19, debt relief, and the climate and biodiversity crises

Date: Wednesday, 9 September 2020
Where: Online
Man, wearing a blue tunic, stands with his back to the camera and looks at huts in the background.

Mauritania spends over 20% of its revenue on debt repayments. With COVID-19 these debts are expected to increase rapidly (Photo: Xaume Olleros/EU via FlickrCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

On Wednesday, 9 September, IIED hosted an online discussion on how debt relief can be addressed through climate and nature programme swaps.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, urgent debt relief is needed. For many developing countries, repayments mean that vast amounts of money are diverted away from action on the climate emergency and biodiversity loss as well as education, health and infrastructure. Millions more vulnerable people are being pushed into poverty.

This online event brought together experts to discuss the use of debt for climate and nature programme swaps as a tool to address poverty, the climate crisis and biodiversity loss.

What are the opportunities and challenges of such an approach? What role can creditors from the private sector, multilateral organisations and governments play? What is the role of debtor governments? And to what extent can such an approach support a sustainable post-COVID-19 recovery?


Juliette Tunstall (, internal engagement and external events officer