The Post 2015 Development Agenda

What should be included in this framework and how?

2 September 2013 by Eric Toussaint , Daniel Munevar

History of economic development is littered with attempts to correct the “mistakes” of development policy. The preferred method was to add new elements to the agenda. This approach led an ever increasing scope of issues included in policy discussions, ranging from environmental concerns to focalization of social policies. The results of this methodology are for everyone to see: of the original 8 Millenium Development Goals (MDG), only 2 have been met, with serious doubts regarding the possibility of meeting the other 6. In other words, the track record of the current development agenda is less than stellar [1].

So, maybe the issue is not necessarily to continue adding new elements to the framework, but simply to assess if some of the elements that are already present are working, and if it’s not the case, whether they can be eliminated. The one element that stands out on that regard is Debt as a development policy tool.

Since the implementation of the Plan Marshall in Europe, policy circles have been burdened with the notion that injections of capital and fresh financial resources constitute one of the basic components of development. Based on this premise, the World Bank World Bank
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 189 members in 2017), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.

has tried throughout the last 69 years to help countries to borrow their way into development. As it’s demonstrated on my book, the results of this approach on the living conditions of millions of people around the world have been dismaying [2].

Instead of providing developing countries with fresh resources, the debt system has forced those same countries to prioritize payments to their creditors over the provision of basic social services. According to World Bank data, just in 2010, developing countries paid USD 184 billion on debt service Debt service The sum of the interests and the amortization of the capital borrowed. , roughly the equivalent of three times the resources required per year to secure the fulfillment of the MDGs. Even more troublesome between 1985 and 2010 net public debt flows to developing countries, that is the difference between debt disbursements and debt payments, have reached USD 530 billion [3]. To place this number in context, the net resources transferred by developing countries to their creditors is the equivalent of five times the resources devoted to the Plan Marshall.

Throughout this time, Debt has been used by the IFI´s and creditor countries alike to push countries to adopt policies that if anything prevent them from securing minimum living conditions for their populations. From the privatization and downsizing of public services, to trade opening that has seriously undermined food sovereignty, the policies enforced upon developing countries have seriously undermined the capacity of those countries of achieving development trough endogenous means.

Therefore, if something needs to be done, is to cancel the public debts of developing countries. Contrary to what skeptics point out, this debt represents a drop in the bucket: in 2010, it reached USD 1.6 trillion (total public external debt), or less than 5% of the resources devoted by the US Government to rescue the banks [4]. If such a massive amount of resources can be marshaled to secure the bonuses of banking executives, is it too much to ask to ask for a small share Share A unit of ownership interest in a corporation or financial asset, representing one part of the total capital stock. Its owner (a shareholder) is entitled to receive an equal distribution of any profits distributed (a dividend) and to attend shareholder meetings. of those same resources to secure better living conditions for hundreds of millions of people around the world? Clearly this is a political question, rather than an economic one, but the fact remains that debt continues to be a major obstacle for development. As CADTM has advocated during the last 24 years, let’s get rid of it.

Daniel Munevar, economist, CADTM Colombia, and Eric Toussaint, Doctor in Political sciences, Senior Lecturer at the University of Liège, is the President of CADTM Belgium (Committee for the Abolition of Third-World Debt, ), and a member of the Scientific Committee of ATTAC France.


[1“Millennium development goals – the key datasets you need to know”, available at:

[2“The World Bank: A Critical Primer”, available at:

[3See Damien Millet, Daniel Munevar, Eric Toussaint, “2012 World Debt Figures”, available at:

[4Calculated on the basis of the costs analysis undertaken by the Levy Institute, which estimates the total cost at USD 29 trillion. See, Felkerson, J. (2011), “$29,000,000,000,000: A Detailed Look at the Fed’s Bailout by Funding Facility and Recipient”, Levy Institute Working Paper 698.

Eric Toussaint

is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the spokesperson of the CADTM International, and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France.
He is the author of Greece 2015: there was an alternative. London: Resistance Books / IIRE / CADTM, 2020 , Debt System (Haymarket books, Chicago, 2019), Bankocracy (2015); The Life and Crimes of an Exemplary Man (2014); Glance in the Rear View Mirror. Neoliberal Ideology From its Origins to the Present, Haymarket books, Chicago, 2012, etc.
See his bibliography:
He co-authored World debt figures 2015 with Pierre Gottiniaux, Daniel Munevar and Antonio Sanabria (2015); and with Damien Millet Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank: Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers, Monthly Review Books, New York, 2010. He was the scientific coordinator of the Greek Truth Commission on Public Debt from April 2015 to November 2015.

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Daniel Munevar

is a post-Keynesian economist from Bogotá, Colombia. From March to July 2015, he worked as an assistant to former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, advising him on fiscal policy and debt sustainability.
Previously, he was an advisor to the Colombian Ministry of Finance. He has also worked at UNCTAD.
He is one of the leading figures in the study of public debt at the international level. He is a researcher at Eurodad.



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