In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, low- and middle-income countries are in urgent need of a rapid recovery but face instead external shocks in the form of food and energy price surges and the often dire effects of climate change. Governments in these countries must now navigate historically high levels of both public and private debt and rising inflation. As default rates rise, the need for debt restructuring is growing in many countries. What could be the way out from the debt trap?

This is the question discussed by leading scholars and policymakers at the ‘Debt and innovative finance in developing countries’ conference in Helsinki on 27−28 October. The two-day conference is convened by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) and the Bank of Finland Institute for Emerging Economies (BOFIT). The aim of the conference is to address an urgent need to help governments of developing countries weather the multiple crises they face, starting with macroeconomic stability and the sustainable financing of government activities.

New solutions needed for sustainable economies and a just green transition

The conference brings together international experts on international economic stability, sovereign debt dynamics and innovative green finance.

“The conference will discuss recent experiences and research on various forms of debt in emerging and developing economies. Responding to the pandemic meant high levels of debt in many countries, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has further exacerbated debt levels. Therefore, analysing various aspects of debt – both sovereign and private – is very important right now,” says Iikka Korhonen, BOFIT’s Head of Research.

Three keynote speakers will illuminate different aspects of these themes at the conference. Nobel laureate Bengt Holmström will tell us what kind of information we can glean from debt. Ugo Panizza and Sarah Colenbrander will explain the interaction between climate and debt sustainability, and the role of climate finance in fighting climate change. The conference will also discuss new financing instruments for the green transition in developing countries.

“As we head towards COP 27, the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, it is imperative to find new ways to help finance a just transition to a net-zero economy. The conference will discuss innovative financial instruments that make such a transition possible,” explains Kunal Sen, Director of UNU-WIDER.

The invitation-only event will be livestreamed.


Register here to receive the link and up-to-date information about the event:

For further information:

Iikka Korhonen, Head of Research, BOFIT,, +358 9 1832272

Media enquiries and interview requests:

Anna Toppari, Communications Associate, UNU-WIDER,, +358 404518233