Caritas Internationalis addresses the G7: “We cannot ‘build back better’ on social injustice”

It is impossible to “build back better” without cancelling the debt of poor countries and reinvesting these funds in COVID-19 response and recovery and to combat the climate crisis.  That is Caritas Internationalis’s appeal to the G7 leaders who will meet starting tomorrow, 11 June, in Cornwall.

“COVID-19 put the rampant social injustices in today’s world under a magnifying glass,” said Aloysius John, secretary general of Caritas Internationalis. “The only way to rebuild the future must be by eliminating such injustices”.

Prolonged, severe drought in Zambia increases food insecurity.

Prolonged, severe drought in Zambia increases food insecurity. Photo by Caritas Zambia

Through its grassroots presence in some 200 countries and territories worldwide, the Caritas Confederation constantly witnesses the dramatic consequences of debt on the people in developing countries.

“In Zambia, for example, 45% of the Government’s annual budget services the country’s massive debt.  How can a country rebuild with such a burden? And how can it respond to COVID if the few resources available cannot be used to strengthen the national health system – including faith-based organizations providers – that would store and distribute vaccines?”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Caritas Internationalis has continually advocated for the poorest `countries, urging the international community to commit to and fund a just recovery for all. In view of the upcoming G7 summit, Caritas once again makes its voice heard to echo the cry of the poorest:

“G7 countries must lead the way in COVID-19 response and recovery to support those worst affected by the pandemic and support a just, green recovery. And the first step is to ensure that all debt payments are cancelled, including to private creditors. This is the quickest way of getting finance to where it is most needed,” adds Aloysius John.

Luapula, Zambia. Adress social injustice so we can build back better

Luapula, Zambia: Mary goes into this pit every day in search of manganese ore to sell so she can feed her family.
Photo by Mando Chiundaponde/Caritas Zambia

African governments alone are expected to pay $23.4 billion in debt repayments to private creditors in 2021 – that is over three times the cost to purchase vaccines for the entire continent.

Caritas Internationalis urges G7 countries to commit to new finance to support COVID-19 response, recovery and the climate crisis, focusing on the poorest communities and protecting our common home. The issuance of new Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) would provide finance directly to governments in the global south to respond to the current crises.  New SDRs available to advanced economies should be used to provide grants to tackle global challenges such as strengthening health systems, access to vaccine and investing in a just, green recovery.

Caritas Internationalis, therefore, appeals to G7 leaders to:

  1. Stop debt payments to private creditors.  In addition to their existing calls for private creditors to engage fully in the G20 Common Framework for Debt Relief, G7 governments must commit to exploring legislative options that encourage Private Creditors to participate in debt relief and restructuring initiatives
  2. Provide new financing for Covid response, recovery and climate crisis. Commitment by G7 governments to mobilise the financing to respond to the immediate needs of the Covid response (strengthen healthcare systems, social safety nets, access to vaccines) and support a just, green recovery in ways which do not deepen the debt crisis in the global south.
  3. New issuance of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to tackle global problems. This moment of crisis requires an unprecedented and innovative response. G7 countries should explore options to utilise their SDRs to support countries in the global south, including middle income countries, in ways that do not increase debt and conditionality.
  4. Demonstrate they are taking the COP26 talks and tackling the climate crisis seriously, including by committing to end fossil fuel subsidies.


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