Citing Piecemeal Progress, Deputy Secretary-General Calls for Political Will to Fully Reform Outdated Global Financial Architecture, at Brookings Institution Event

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the Brookings Institution event “Toward Reimagined Global Financial Architecture:  Progress and Challenges, held today:

I wish to start by thanking the Brookings Institution for organizing this timely discussion.

Our world is facing existential risks.  From conflicts to climate change, from poverty to growing inequalities, these issues know no borders — they are global and can only be addressed globally.  But, we are not equipped to do so.  Geopolitical divides and outdated multilateral institutions are hindering any collective action.

In 2021, the Secretary-General’s report on Our Common Agenda called for renewed solidarity between peoples, countries, and generations — and a multilateralism fit for the twenty-first century.  Since then, global challenges have only grown greater — and we are running out of time.

September’s Summit of the Future is a generational opportunity to change course, and reshape global governance — anchored in equity, solidarity and transparency.  That includes delivering a clear way forward to reforming the global financial system.

The current international financial architecture was created nearly 80 years ago.  Over three quarters of today’s countries were not present at the creation of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund — in many cases, because they were still under colonial rule.

This architecture was designed by the richest countries.  It cannot work for all — in particular the most vulnerable ones.  It cannot address the scale and complexity of today’s challenges — from deeply integrated financial markets, to increasing systemic risks, and a growing climate emergency.  It cannot deliver the stable, affordable and long-term financing that is necessary to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  And it cannot protect countries from ever increasing shocks.

Last year, the SDG Summit issued a strong political declaration, acknowledging the urgency of reforming the international financial architecture. The time has come to transform political declarations into political action.  The Secretary-General has put forward a bold set of reforms across six areas.

First, reforms to global economic governance that give a voice to developing countries.  Second, a development-oriented debt architecture that is more just, more agile, and more effective — giving countries the confidence to borrow in a volatile world.  Third, a massive scaling-up of long-term affordable financing, primarily through multilateral development banks.

Fourth, a real global financial safety net that allows developing countries to respond to crises just as vigorously as many advanced economies have in recent years.  Fifth, financial sector regulatory reform to create long-term incentives for all public and private actors, fostering sustainability and stability.  And sixth, an international tax architecture that is fair and inclusive for all countries.

These proposals are now being actively examined and debates.  The Brookings publication launched today provides a valuable contribution to these reflections.  We welcome your engagement to build a strong intellectual and moral case for reforms.

We are seeing some progress.  Reform efforts are under way on multilateral development banks and on international tax, under the direction of the international financial institutions, the G20 [Group of 20] and the UN.

But, some still lack ambition.  Piecemeal and partial reform attempts are fuelling impatience and distrust in the very ability of multilateralism to find solutions.  Our challenge — between now and September — is to muster the political will to change this.

At the Summit of the Future, we’re calling on Member States to commit to put forward a package of reforms to the international financial architecture that meets the urgency of the moment and delivers for the needs of today — for all 8 billion people.  That is the only way to rebuild trust in the multilateral system and together, build a more sustainable, just and resilient future.

For information media. Not an official record.