Eric LeCompte Addresses 46 Ministers of the Least Developed Countries and United Nations

5th United Nations Leaders Summit of the Least Developed Countries: FROM POTENTIAL TO PROSPERITY

March 8th, 2023
Doha, Qatar

Fulfilling the Demand of a World Where We All Have Enough: Lifting the Least Developed Countries from Crisis to Resilience

"Sometimes the miracle is that we were already given enough, and we just figured out how to share it…"

By Eric LeCompte, Executive Director, Jubilee USA Network

(Remarks as prepared for delivery)



Your Excellencies, it's good to be with you again and join you for this critical high-level roundtable. I wish to thank the ministers and my other co-panelists and I hope I might highlight, engage and offer further insights into their comments.

Thank you to his Royal Highness who shares with us the sacred value carried by Gulf states of hospitality and welcome. Thanks to her Excellency, Under Secretary General Fatima and her team for making this event possible. Thanks to the Qatari staff, UN staff and the delegation staff from every country who prepared us to be here. And we extend our thanks to the civil society groups and charities among us, who join us all here, in our deep yearning to build a world, to create a world, where all have enough and no one is left behind.

Here in the Gulf as we are all taught that sacred tradition of welcome, hospitality and sharing - we can acknowledge that such sacred tradition is endemic to all of our cultures and religious traditions. The Hebrew scriptures reminds us that we never know when we might be entertaining angels. The Christian, Benedictine tradition exhorts us to welcome all as if we have the very honor of welcoming the Holy One.

Today, we are here to talk about hospitality and sharing. Today, we are here to speak to the urgency in resolving multiple global crises. Today, we are here to celebrate the very real successes of the Least Developed Countries in using emergency pandemic response aid. Today, we are here to accept the challenge to raise the revenues we need, to stop corruption and build a world where we all have enough.

First - where we are at.

The 46 so-called "Least Developed Countries" face acute vulnerabilities: Relatively small economic size, sluggish progress of structural transformation, heightened dependence on external aid and finance, institutional weaknesses, political instability and in too many tragic cases, conflict. 40 percent of the population in LDCs live in extreme poverty, compared to 12% in other developing countries.

Economic growth is highly volatile in the poor LDCs.

Right now with the pandemic and war in Ukraine, more than 251 million people in the Least Developed Countries are severely food insecure and experience hunger. The Least Developed Countries host 40% of the world’s poor – even though they only have 13% of the global population. In fact, the proportion of the global poor in the Least Developed Countries more than doubled since 1990.

As of March of last year, 21 of the 46 LDCs were in or at risk of debt distress and debt crisis. The share of government revenues spent on servicing public and publicly guaranteed debt rose from 13 percent to 15 percent from 2019 to 2021. In 2017 LDCs already reached $313 billion in debt.

Debt to export ratios shot up during the pandemic, from an average of 158% to more than 200% and in more than half of them that rate is above 250%. This is ALL debt – so not just the public debt - but more than 70% of that total debt is public debt.

Meanwhile, LDCs spend only an average of around 2% of their GDP on social protection and healthcare, combined. Debt and economic shocks alone put the UN Sustainable Development Goals out of reach. Before COVID, we remember the shock to our three West African neighbors because of Ebola.

Solutions, Amazing Success and the Road ahead:

1.) Expanding debt relief, debt transparency and debt work out procedures are critical - both through existing processes and new processes.

Debt is the chief issue facing most of the Least Developed Countries.

We need better debt sustainability frameworks and need to look at how debt affects the average person in our economies - Gross National Income, GNI, as opposed to GDP is often a better indicator of the suffering and strength of our people.

Consider that LDCs are 46 out of 73 countries eligible for the G20's Common Framework process.

So, we must make the Common Framework or another debt relief process work. We must expand bankruptcy and debt work-out procedures for all countries in crisis.

Privately held debt is also a key issue for the Least Developed Countries.

This is why we are incredibly excited and ask for all of your help to pass a New York Law that can shift the financial system for developing countries to have real, comprehensive options.

We must act in New York, as the world's financial capital, because more than 52 percent of the world's privately held debt is governed by New York law.

Thanks to New York Assemblymember Patricia Fahy and to Senator Brad Hoylman, we have, "the New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Protection Act, S.4747 and A.2970."

The legislation moves forward debt relief and aid for a world in crisis.

This legislation addresses global supply shocks and the high costs we are all paying around the world from eggs to cheese, flour to unga and tea to coffee. Work on this legislation is being led by global Muslim, Christian and Jewish organizations and the diaspora from LDC countries who call New York their second home.

They need your help. We need your help.

Passage of this law makes bankruptcy protections a reality for us.

We ask that every government and stakeholder here urge Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York Assembly and Senate to quickly, quickly pass this law that all of our lives and the lives and livelihoods of our people depend on.

2.) Raising additional revenue. Transparency. Tax, common digital tax and curbing illicit financial flows. These policies alone will raise billions and billions for our countries.

We can no longer wait for more aid from the North. It's not coming.

We are the ones we've been waiting for.

We can and we must take responsibility and harness these immense revenue streams. We must curb the scourge of corporate and professional tax evasion in our countries.

I wish to tell you a secret.

What may be the best kept secret in Washington DC.

That's the secret of the US Treasury's Office of Technical Assistance. The only role of this institution is to be at the service of every country that asks. Their role is to help you capture taxes from corporations and professionals who are not paying their share of taxes in your country. They assist with anti-corruption measures and ensure that budgets are passed transparently with the helpful oversight of our people.

Next, we need to increase the resources of development banks, and make them more efficient, effective and accountable. These banks will need to provide at least $200 billion of additional resources ANNUALLY to deal with the needs of these countries and offer highly concessional lending. We and you need to act to make this a reality.

Now we get to share some of the great successes of the Least Developed Countries in terms of emergency revenue use, and turn our conversation to Special Drawing Rights or SDRs. This emergency pandemic response aid has been well used by countries.

Through Jubilee USA's partnership with Africa's religious leaders, the Africa Catholic Bishops, Africa Caritas and the research Zambia study of our partners, the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network Africa (JENA), some amazing things were discovered.

The SDRs in Zambia funded the Social Cash Transfer (SCT), the Rain Fed, Wetlands and Alternative Livelihood Programmes in the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services. Special Drawing Rights funded grants for all the hospitals in Zambia and these grants cover operation costs. The Zambia Medicines and Medical Supplies Agency (ZAMMSA), received SDRs which it used to finance the purchase of drugs, medical supplies, equipment and Covid-19 Vaccines.

While not a sustainable way to fund Zambia pensions, SDRs reduced the waiting period for pensioners to receive their money from more than three years to less than one year.

Further: Many developing countries—including The Least Developed Countries such as Benin, The Gambia, Madagascar, São Tomé and Príncipe, Uganda, Guinea-Bissau, all used or committed to use their SDRs to support public health and combat the spread of COVID-19. Liberia, Senegal, and Sierra Leone use SDRs specifically for vaccine imports, production and distribution.

Congratulations for such an effective use of Special Drawing Rights.

Because LDCs have used this emergency aid so well, we must hold northern governments accountable for their commitments to rechannel $100 billion to developing countries. AND, we must not stop our calls as a global community for a new creation of Special Drawing Rights and for International Monetary Fund gold sales.

Finally, we must rely on our most important natural resource, partner and our very reason for being - our people.

We need each other and must rely on one another. We are reminded by a concept known to all of us, a concept lifted recently by Pope Francis - that politics, leadership is a noble calling and a call to serve our people.

The more transparency we establish in budgets and transactions, the more our people are invested. The better we can serve, the more trust we establish, the more we can harness the rich resources of our countries. The more we work with our people to root out corruption at all levels, the more revenues we will raise.

We only go forward, together.

In closing, the promise of the Holy One to live in a world where we all have enough and our planet is protected, is not a dream - but a demand for every single one of us to fulfill.

The miracle, perhaps, may be more than the reality that the Holy One created enough for all of us out of nothing. Sometimes the miracle is that we were already given enough, and we just figured out how to share it.

Thanks.

Eric LeCompte is the Executive Director of the religious, interfaith development organization, Jubilee USA Network.


Download Eric LeCompte's remarks as a PDF here.

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United Nations Press features Eric LeCompte on how LDC's can reach the Sustainable Development Goals

Eric LeCompte is featured in the United Nations Press regarding his suggestions on how the Least Developed Countries can meet the Sustainable Development Goals. Read an excerpt below and click here for the full story.

Challenged by Poor Access to External Financing, Aid, Least Developed Countries Must Mobilize Domestic Resources, Promote Investment, Speakers Stress at Doha Round Table


DOHA, 8 March — Efforts to mobilize domestic resources, increase Government revenues, promote investment and fight illicit financial flows are required to offset the challenges that least developed countries face in accessing concessional financing and insufficient external development aid, speakers stressed today as the fifth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries held its last full day of high-level thematic round tables.

Opening the meeting on “Resource mobilization and strengthened global partnerships for sustainable development in least developed countries”, Sorasak Pan, Minister for Commerce of Cambodia and Co-Chair of the seventh high-level thematic round table, pointed out that least developed countries depend on public resources to finance their sustainable-development needs.  Fiscal deficits have only grown, occasioned by increased spending needs across all sectors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Urgent measures are therefore needed to support economies and social-protection systems.  On that point, he highlighted the gender impact of such policies, as women are impacted the most when public services are cut.


Read more here.

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Needs of Poorest, Vulnerable Countries in Focus at United Nations Doha Conference

Debt, Aid and Finance Top Agenda

Presidents, Prime ministers and leaders of the UN's 46 Least Developed Countries and representatives from all countries meet in Doha to help poor countries respond to multiple crises and achieve development and climate objectives. 

On Sunday, United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, opened the once-in-a-decade Fifth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries. He asserted that debt challenges must be tackled if these countries are going to meet the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

“Too much debt may be the biggest issue facing most developing countries,” said Eric LeCompte, one of the high-level expert panelists invited to address the leaders. LeCompte heads the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. “The international community must quickly address the global debt crisis and get aid to these countries wrestling with a new food crisis due to the war in Ukraine.”

The conference ends on March 9th

View the United Nations' list of Least Developed Countries here.

See the agenda for Wednesday's "High-level Thematic Roundtable 7: Resource mobilization and strengthened global partnerships for sustainable development in Least Developed Countries," here.

Watch on UN TV, the "High-level Thematic Roundtable 7: Resource mobilization and strengthened global partnerships for sustainable development in Least Developed Countries," here.

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Majority of Countries Wrestling with Multiple Crises as G20 Finance Ministers Meet in Bengaluru Meeting - Jubilee USA Network

Secretary Yellen Calls for More Aid for Ukraine while India Urges Ministers to Avoid Conversation on the War

G20 Finance Ministers gather for a three-day meeting in Bengaluru, their first under the Indian Presidency. While addressing global debt tops the G20 agenda, the Ukraine war is debated on the sidelines.

"The G20 wants to tackle debt in developing countries that is at its highest in 50 years, as poverty rises and standards of living decline," said Eric LeCompte, a United Nations finance expert and the Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. "I'm worried that progress on a number of key issues will be another casualty of the war in Ukraine." 

At a high-level gathering, the Sovereign Debt Roundtable, a group of borrowing countries, governments that lend money, private lenders and international financial institutions will explore solutions to expedite and make debt reduction more widely accessible and predictable.

“These side meetings are happening because the G20 debt relief initiative is still not supported by some private creditors yet,” shared LeCompte. "We are not waiting for the private sector to join the G20 initiative, so we support new legislation in New York that can make sure the private sector comes to the table."

Under the New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Protection Act, private creditors will be required to participate in debt relief initiatives at the same level as the US government, other governments and other creditors and protect US taxpayer-funded debt relief commitments. New York State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, Judiciary Committee Chair, introduced S.4747, a companion bill to A.2970 that Assemblymember Patricia Fahy champions in the Assembly.

During the meetings, the G20 will review progress on using the emergency pandemic aid that the IMF issued in 2021 for developing countries. The IMF released $650 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) – an emergency currency. Wealthy countries received more than $400 billion and the G20 subsequently committed that rich countries would provide $100 billion of their share to finance low-cost, long term loans to developing countries.

“A key discussion is whether the G20 can support more development bank funding with Special Drawing Rights,” noted Aldo Caliari, Senior Director of Policy and Strategy at Jubilee USA Network. 

The IMF approved loans using the SDRs for five countries to date. The African Development Bank put forward an initiative to use SDRs as capital to finance climate and food security programs in the region.

Leaders plan to discuss proposals to increase development bank lending. Last year, a group of experts that the G20 tasked with producing proposals offered recommendations that could boost lending by hundreds of billions of dollars. The US and other countries led a call to see the institutions lending more to global challenges such as climate and pandemic preparedness.

“Continuing to ask banks to step up to face global crises response will require creativity on how they use capital, and we will very likely need more capital,” stated Caliari.

Read more about the New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Protection Act here

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Associated Press, ABC News, the Washington Post quotes Eric LeCompte on US nomination of Ajay Banga for World Bank President

Eric LeCompte is quoted by the Associated Press, ABC News, the Washington Post regarding the US nomination of Ajay Banga to be the World Bank President. Read an excerpt below and click here for the full story.

 

US nominates Ajay Banga for World Bank president

By Fatima Hussein 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is nominating former Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga to lead the World Bank, President Joe Biden announced on Thursday, crediting him with critical experience on global challenges including climate change.

The news comes days after Trump appointee David Malpass announced plans to step down in June from his role leading the 189-nation poverty reduction agency. His five-year term was due to expire in April 2024.

Read more here




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Reuters, the Financial Post and Yahoo Quote Eric LeCompte on New York Bill to Tackle Developing Countries Debt Crises and US Supply Shocks

Eric LeCompte is quoted in Reuters regarding the introduction of the "New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Protection Act" in the New York State Senate. Read an excerpt below and click here for the full story.

New York state bill seen aiding poor country debt relief

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON, Feb 17 (Reuters) - As major debt-distressed countries and major creditors discussed ways to unlock faster debt relief on Friday, legislation under consideration in New York's state legislature would push private sector creditors to participate, state lawmakers and non-profit groups say.

New York State Senator Brad Holyman-Sigal, a Democrat representing lower and parts of mid-town Manhattan, said he introduced companion legislation to the "New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Prevention Act" already under consideration in the state assembly.

Read more here.

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New York Senate Bill Joins Assembly Bill to Tackle Developing Countries Debt Crises and US Supply Shocks

US Taxpayers, Consumers Poised to Reap Benefits

Private creditors would join debt relief processes supported by Republican and Democratic White Houses for the last 25 years, with new bills introduced in the New York Senate and Assembly.

Countries coping with the pandemic, war and multiple crises can seek debt relief under a new law just introduced by Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, Judiciary Committee Chair. Hoylman-Sigal's legislation, The New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Protection Act, S.4747, a companion bill to A.2970 that Assemblymember Patricia Fahy champions in the New York Assembly. Proponents assert that the bill will help address inflation and supply shocks hurting New Yorkers.

"As the financial capital of the world, New York has a critical role to play in addressing the crippling debt of other nations," said Hoylman-Sigal. "Our “New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Protection Act” (S4747) with Assemblymember Fahy will help countries struggling to recover from challenges like climate change and COVID and better take care of their constituents. At the same time, the bill will protect New York taxpayers and reduce the harmful impact of inflation. I look forward to passing it in this legislative session."

Over the last two years, the heads of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank argued that financial jurisdictions, like New York State, should have plans for debt relief since private debt is governed by contracts in these financial jurisdictions. More than half of the world's private debt contracts are subject to New York State law.

“The global COVID-19 pandemic, war in Europe, and ongoing climate crisis have all laid bare just how interconnected the global economy has become today,” said Fahy. “New York State is the world’s financial hub — positioning us well to enact basic changes that will ensure debt relief for developing nations through investments in sustainable growth, infrastructure, and more.”

The participation of private creditors in debt relief initiatives at the same level as the US government, other governments and other creditors, will also protect US taxpayer-funded debt relief commitments. Privately-held debt represents more than 60% of debt in developing countries.

“The bill is critical for many countries struggling with soaring poverty rates and debt crises that became worse during the pandemic,” stated Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. The bipartisan group is focused on debt policies because they argue it impacts poverty and inequality in the US and abroad. “Because New York and the United States are relying on these countries for trade, their debt crises affect what we pay for eggs, flour and coffee," continued LeCompte.

Since the legislation promises such benefits to US taxpayers and consumers, the legislation is gaining traction with unions and New York major religious leaders.

“Not only will this legislation protect American taxpayers, it will spur new development and growth within the global economy, reduce stress on international supply chains, and establish clear strategies for growth in nations burdened by massive amounts of debt,” stated Fahy. “I’m proud to introduce the New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Protection Act with Senator Hoylman-Sigal and look forward to working on this issue with my colleagues in the state legislature to deliver economic justice for nations and peoples across the globe.”

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Reuters quotes Eric LeCompte on IMF, World Bank and G20 debt roundtable

Eric LeCompte is quoted in Reuters regarding the upcoming IMF, World Bank and G20 sovereign debt roundtable. Read an excerpt below and click here for the full story.


China, U.S. to participate in first meeting of new debt roundtable on Feb. 17

By Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Officials from China, India, Saudi Arabia and Group of Seven wealthy nations will participate in a first virtual meeting of a new sovereign debt roundtable on Friday, three sources familiar with the plans said on Monday.

The roundtable will also include officials from countries that have requested debt treatments under the Group of 20 common framework - Ethiopia, Zambia and Ghana - as well as middle-income countries such as Singapore, Suriname and Ecuador, which have faced their own debt crises, the sources said.

Read more here:


 

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Yellen: World Bank Should Incorporate Climate and Pandemic Challenges in Fight to End Poverty

World Bank poverty reduction work should include growth goals and address climate change, pandemics and other global challenges, asserted Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday. Speaking at the Center for Strategic International Studies, she presented US priorities on a World Bank reform process of the Bank's vision, operation and finances.

“The pandemic, war and inflation are increasing poverty around the globe,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. “Yellen knows we've lost decades of work on development and that the World Bank and development banks can do more if we can make these banks more effective."

Last October, the US led calls for a reform process of the World Bank. The agenda includes assessing proposals to increase bank lending by hundreds of billions of dollars.

“As we need development banks to do more, they will need more resources and capital,” added LeCompte. "We also need them to be more innovative to deal with multiple, growing crises."

In a 2021 letter to President Biden, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Jubilee USA Network called for significantly increasing multilateral development bank lending power. In March of that year, at a roundtable Jubilee USA convened with Secretary Yellen, some of the US's highest-ranking religious leaders delivered the same request to her. The leaders represented the Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian and United Church of Christ Churches, as well as the Union for Reform Judaism. 

Addressing a question on debt during Thursday's talk, Yellen remarked how debt restructuring not only serves the interests of the borrowers, it also serves the interests of the creditors. She elaborated that where debt reaches an unsustainable level, it stops the country from growing, developing and investing, and thus it cannot make payments.

“If we are going to be effective in reducing poverty in countries then we need debt to be reduced and more aid delivered to countries,” stated LeCompte. "Debt relief and sufficient economic aid must go hand and hand."

Read Secretary Yellen's speech here.

Read the World Bank Group Statement on Evolution Roadmap here.

Read the letter to President Biden and Secretary Yellen from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Jubilee USA Network here

Read Treasury Secretary Yellen/Jubilee USA Network roundtable readout and release here.

 

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The New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Protection Act bill and bill memo


Download the New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Protection Act bill (English) as a PDF here.

Download the New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Protection Act bill (español) as a PDF here.

Download the New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Protection Act bill memo (English) as a PDF here.

Download the New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Protection Act bill memo (español) as a PDF here.

 

Bill: 

Bill Memo: 

Download the New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Protection Act bill (English) as a PDF here.

Download the New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Protection Act bill (español) as a PDF here.

Download the New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Protection Act bill memo (English) as a PDF here.

Download the New York Taxpayer and International Debt Crises Protection Act bill memo (español) as a PDF here.

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Concerns of Growth, Pandemic, War and Inflation Top World Economic Forum Agenda

World Bank Cuts Global Growth Forecast as Developing Countries Struggle with Debt

Ministers, business leaders, economists and development groups convened this week for the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The pandemic, Ukraine war, food crisis and rising inflation dominated talks at the meetings.

“A positive message from the gathering is that a strong economy is built on addressing poverty and protecting our planet,” said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA, which monitors the forum. “While the gathering can help build consensus on solutions to global problems, we didn't hear any sense of urgency about the economic crises that most countries face.”

The World Bank cut the 2023 global economic growth forecast, noting that only twice in the last two decades did the economy grow more slowly. Those slowdowns occurred in 2008 – the global financial crisis -- and 2020, the pandemic crisis. One-third of developing countries will not regain their pre-2019 income levels until 2024 or later, the recent Bank report found.

“As major economies raise interest rates to counter inflation, the higher rates increase debts for the poorest countries,” LeCompte stated. "As debt becomes more unsustainable, more countries will default and all countries will struggle with greater economic and supply shocks."

The IMF recently announced it will convene a high-level debt roundtable to resolve outstanding issues with a G20 debt reduction initiative that has been in place for more than two years.

Read the World Bank's Global Economic Prospects report here.

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2021/2022 Report

Friends,

Most of the world's countries continue to struggle with impacts of the pandemic, soaring food prices and a climate crisis. As we review our efforts together over the last year, we moved forward solutions to the climate crisis and pandemic and we won the largest amounts of relief and aid in our 25 year history.

Read and share our 2021-2022 report as we look back on our work and continue efforts to address the root causes of poverty, inequality and climate and financial crisis.

In our report, you'll read about our New York legislation to resolve debt crises, protect US tax payers and stop economic shocks. Almost 50 countries benefited from our debt relief efforts. We won hundreds of billions in new pandemic response aid, secured student debt relief and Puerto Rico aid advanced.

We produced new research on how the pandemic is impacting 24 countries. Hundreds of Jubilee congregations, faith communities and partners organized with us to push the G20, IMF and White House to implement policies to resolve the current climate and financial crisis - and prevent future crises.

While our campaigns continue to succeed, we'll need your help as world leaders continue to make critical decisions about our lives, livelihoods and planets. Read and share our Jubilee USA Network 2021-2022 report.

We look forward to continuing to work with you in the new year and beyond.

Gratefully,

Aldo Caliari
Senior Director of Policy and Campaigns
Jubilee USA Network
www.jubileeusa.org/support-us

PS. Please join me and donate now to support our Jubilee USA mission and efforts to protect our lives, livelihoods and planet.

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