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3 questions to Cécile Duflot, Executive Director at Oxfam France

Published 9 June 2023 in News

On June 22 and 23, 2023, a Summit for a New Global Financing Pact will be held in Paris, co-organized by France and India. Many leaders from States, governments, international organizations, civil society and the private sector will be invited to discuss solutions for financing global development and the climate transition. 

In order to decipher the stakes of this Summit, Focus 2030 aims to gather and highlight the point of view of organizations that are expert in their respective fields and is conducting a series of interviews with representatives of governments, international organizations, NGOs, think tanks, and others. 

Discover our Special Edition about the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact and all the interviews with experts conducted ahead of the Summit.


3 questions to Cécile Duflot, Executive Director at Oxfam France

Written interview received on June 4, 2023.

Focus 2030 : Recent international crises have led to a setback in the progress made in recent years towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a setback accentuated by the climate crisis, which is affecting countries in the South in particular, to such an extent that some of them are facing humanitarian crises. For example, Oxfam points out that 18.6 million people in the Horn of Africa are currently experiencing food insecurity. In the context of the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact, that takes place in Paris on June 22 and 23, how and why do you think it’s important to tackle the twin challenges of climate change and global inequality at the same time ?


Cécile Duflot : The latest heatwaves in France and the huge fire in Gironde were a wake-up call to many that our country would not be spared from climate change. Yet it is beyond our borders that the climate crisis is already having its most dramatic consequences. Among its most tangible impacts is hunger, which kills thousands of people every week. The Sahel and Horn of Africa regions are in fact on the front line of unprecedented climatic disruptions, on top of pre-existing economic, social and political crises. Political instability, protracted conflicts, extreme poverty, glaring inequalities, the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, soaring food, fuel and fertilizer prices... all these factors are already destabilizing and weakening these regions. These multiple crises share dramatic consequences. They have a direct impact on extreme poverty, challenge the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, and highlight the unacceptable inaction of rich countries, that are primarily responsible for the situation. 

It is important to bring these issues together because climate change and the extreme meteorological phenomena that come with it, increasingly numerous and violent, reduce the ability of populations to implement resilience and survival strategies to cope with shocks, sharply increase their over-indebtedness to face them and therefore also limit their possibility of longer-term development, in particular of basic social services.

Rich countries, historically responsible for global climate change, have a dual responsibility : they must act to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as well as help the most vulnerable populations to adapt. At the same time, these countries have another responsibility : to ensure that the SDGs are achieved by all, by supporting the most vulnerable populations. Paradoxically, we are currently living in a world that is more prosperous than ever, yet on a global scale, poverty is geographically highly unequal. It is in this context that international aid, among other things, has a role to play. It must be seen as a form of global redistribution that helps reduce global inequalities, or bridge the gap between rich and poor countries. This redistribution is not an act of charity. In a world of profusion, where OECD countries have 52 times the per capita income of low-income countries (World Bank, 2018), and where the wealth of the richest countries is based on the past and ongoing exploitation of the developing world, it is a matter of justice.

Here again, the rich countries are not up to the task. For example, while one person dies of hunger every 28 seconds in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, and South Sudan, barely 62% of humanitarian funding needs have been met in these countries in 2022. In the case of France, this only represents 1.2% of the total. We know that needs will continue to explode this year, so the summit is an opportunity to ensure that rich countries accept their responsibility not only for climate change, but also for global inequalities and the achievement of the SDGs.

Focus 2030 : Oxfam has estimated the financial needs required to meet the development and climate challenges of low- and middle-income countries. 27,000 billion dollars should be mobilized by 2030. In your opinion, what are the best public policies to mobilize this additional funding ?


Cécile Duflot : Recent history has taught us that, when there’s enough political will, governments find the means to mobilize huge sums of money. When the pandemic struck, rich countries immediately dipped into their pockets to find trillions of dollars. It was the same for the war in Ukraine. That’s the kind of ambition and urgency we need today. 

Rich countries could take four actions in 2023 to meet the need for $27.4 trillion :

First, keep aid promises and repay “50 years of Broken Promises".

The first step is for the richest economic powers to keep the promises they have made to the poorest countries. There is irrefutable evidence that such aid saves lives and reduces inequalities. Yet, rich countries have resolutely reneged on their aid promises, failing to fund support for LICs and MICs to the tune of $6.5 trillion since the adoption of the UN 0.7% resolution in 1970. Rich countries have an obligation to permanently deliver on their 0.7% commitment and start to repay their aid debts. 

Then, commit to a "climate debt swap". 

The current system expects developing countries to borrow far too much to meet the climate challenge. This not only increases the debt burden of the poorest countries, but also reduces the sources of financing available to them. For example, almost two-thirds of the countries eligible for IDA (the World Bank institution that helps the world’s poorest countries) are in a situation of debt distress or at high risk of it, which means they are no longer eligible for concessional loans. 

But there is a solution. High-income countries could themselves borrow $11.5 trillion to help pay the developing world’s climate bill. That’s less than what they borrowed to cope with the pandemic only in 2020. This "climate debt swap" could help finance climate change mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage needs, to help them meet the climate change challenge.

Third, allocate additional SDRs.

The benefits of the $650 billion Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) issuance of 2021 have been enormous. 98 developing countries have used these SDRs, notably to buy vaccines, finance social benefits and wages, and for budget support. 

Rich countries should not only accelerate the reallocation of at least $100 billion from current SDR issuance to developing countries, but also commit to at least two new issuances of $650 billion by 2030. 

Finally, Oxfam calls for the introduction of a progressive tax on net global wealth of up to 5%, making it possible to add $1,100 billion a year to the budgets of donor countries. 

The introduction of progressive wealth taxes and more evenly distributed Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) would be enough to finance these common-sense policies, and much more. Most of the resources raised could be channeled as Official Development Assistance and climate financing via the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee. And the excess money would also enable rich countries to make strategic investments aimed at reducing inequalities in their own countries.

Focus 2030 : Oxfam and many other NGOs intend to mobilize citizens to put pressure on leaders taking part in the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact to generate ambitious commitments to fight poverty and climate change. How can the public get involved with Oxfam France ?


Cécile Duflot : Oxfam is working on all the issues discussed at the summit, which means that commitments can be manifold. 

Above all, Oxfam France has worked to build a coalition with the main French and international NGOs working to promote a fairer global financial environment for developing countries. With this in mind, in the second half of June 2023, the coalition is launching a campaign with the aim of urging leading political decision-makers to make tangible commitments to the countries of the South, with the priorities of financing climate action and combating the spread of hunger in the world. In addition to feature articles, our coalition will also be producing videos and opinion pieces, which will be published and relayed on Oxfam France’s website, on social networks and by partner organizations. Anyone can amplify this campaign on social networks, if they wish.

For several months now, Oxfam has been highlighting the seriousness of the humanitarian situation in the Sahel and Horn of Africa. It is estimated that one person dies of hunger every 28 seconds in drought-ravaged Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan. In these countries, Oxfam is providing drinking water and rapid, flexible cash assistance to the populations concerned. These emergency actions are combined with longer-term support to help communities become more resilient in the face of climate change. 

Given the international community’s lack of interest in these crises, Oxfam France is calling on the President of the French Republic to reinforce our humanitarian aid. We therefore invite as many people as possible to sign this petition and share it with others. We remind the President of the Republic that solidarity is not a choice, but a duty. To fight hunger and save millions of lives, France must, starting in 2023, increase its humanitarian aid to 1 billion euros, and ensure that at least half of this is spent on the crisis in the Sahel and Horn of Africa.

Last but not least, Oxfam France will also be organizing a major live stream, Oxfight : Oxfam for Climate, ahead of the summit. For several dozen hours, streamers, gamers and viewers will be challenged, to raise awareness of the importance of international solidarity.


  • This interview was translated by Focus 2030 from French. Please refer to this link for the original version.
  • The opinions expressed in this interview are those of Cécile Duflot and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Focus 2030.

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