The United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) and The Bank of Finland Institute for Emerging Economies (BOFIT) will convene a two-day conference on 'Debt and innovative finance in developing countries' in Helsinki, Finland, on 27-28 October 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly exacerbated the macroeconomic vulnerabilities of low- and middle-income countries. Debt was already high prior to the onset of the pandemic, but now many developing country governments must navigate through record-high public and private debt levels, and rising inflation. Default rates are rising and the need for debt restructuring is growing. The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine is adding to uncertainties.

The world is still some distance away from finding an adequate legal framework for restructuring sovereign debt. At the same time, innovations such as green bonds allow significant opportunities for developing countries to use new financial instruments to promote a sustainable recovery out of the pandemic.

This conference brings together a set of leading scholars and policymakers to discuss the way ahead on the debt challenges faced by developing countries as well as the opportunities to use innovative financial instruments to promote low carbon transitions.

The two-day event features notable speakers from various finance and development institutes and academia. Opening remarks are delivered by Pasi Hellman, Under-Secretary of State for Development Policy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Finland. Bengt Holmström (MIT), Ugo Panizza (Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies), and Sarah Colenbrander (ODI) provide keynote addresses.


The programme

Day 1: October 27th

0930-1000 Registration in the Bank of Finland

1000-1010 Opening Remarks
Pasi Hellman, Under-Secretary of State for Development Policy (Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland)

1010-1020 Introduction to the Conference
Iikka Korhonen (Bank of Finland – BOFIT) and Kunal Sen (UNU-WIDER)

1020-1120 Keynote 1: Climate and Debt Sustainability (Presentation)
Ugo Panizza, Pictet Chair in Finance and Development (Graduate Institute of
International and Development Studies, Geneva)
Chair: Tony Addison (University of Copenhagen and UNU-WIDER)

1120-1230 Panel on Green Finance
Amir Lebdioui (SOAS, London) (Presentation)
Anthony Bartzokas (UNU-MERIT, Maastricht) (Presentation)
Shakira Mustapha (ODI, London) (Presentation)
Chair: Esa Jokivuolle (Bank of Finland)

1230-1330 Lunch

1330-1430 Panel on Corporate Debt
Seppo Honkapohja (Aalto University) (Presentation)
Sanjay Banerji (University of Nottingham, UK) (Presentation)
Adam Gulan (Bank of Finland) (Presentation)
Eeva Kerola (Bank of Finland – BOFIT) (Presentation)
Chair: Zuzana Fungáčová (Bank of Finland – BOFIT)

1430-1530 The World Development Report 2022: Finance for an Equitable Recovery (Presentation)
Leora Klapper* (The World Bank)
Discussant: Abrams Tagem (UNU-WIDER)
Chair: Emmi Oikari (Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Finland)

1530-1600 Coffee Break

1600-1700 Keynote 2: The Information View of Debt (Presentation)
Bengt Holmström* (Nobel Laureate in Economics, MIT)
Chair: Martti Hetemäki (University of Helsinki)

1900-2100 Conference Dinner in the Bank of Finland

*virtual attendance

Day 2: October 28th

0930-1000 Registration and coffee

1000-1100 UN Report - Bridging the Finance Divide: 2022 Financing for Sustainable Development (Presentation)
Shari Spiegel (UNDESA, New York)
Discussant: Amina Ebrahim (UNU-WIDER) (Presentation)
Chair: Jukka Pirttilä (University of Helsinki and UNU-WIDER)

1100-1200 Panel on Sovereign Debt
Andrea Presbitero (IMF) (Presentation)
Arjan De Haan (IDRC) (Presentation)
Maureen Were (Central Bank of Kenya)
Chair: Tuuli Juurikkala (Ministry of Finance, Finland)

1200-1300 Lunch

1300-1400 Keynote 3: Climate finance within the UN climate convention: can and will it be fixed? (Presentation)
Sarah Colenbrander (ODI, London)
Chair: Kunal Sen (UNU-WIDER)

1400-1415 Closing Remarks
Tony Addison (University of Copenhagen and UNU-WIDER