US Pledges Aid, Vaccines and Climate Solutions at Vatican Conference

A High Priority is Debt Relief, Says Treasury Secretary Yellen in Address

Debt relief for poor countries is a high priority for the US, shared Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in virtual remarks at a Vatican meeting of global finance leaders and Catholic dignitaries. A G20 debt reduction process is in place for poor countries, but developing middle-income countries cannot access the process. During Yellen's address, she lifted US support for developing middle-income countries to qualify for debt relief.

“Yellen's participation in this Vatican event shows the synergy between the pandemic response priorities of Pope Francis and the US Treasury,” said Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network. LeCompte advises the Vatican on economic issues and organized a meeting between high-level religious leaders and Yellen in March. "The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences did an incredible job convening leaders to confront the current crisis."

“Dreaming of a Better Restart,” the conference that Yellen attended, focused on economic policies to combat inequality, climate change and food insecurity.

Yellen remarked on US support for creating $650 billion of emergency currency, known as Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). While developing countries will receive more that $200 billion of these new resources, more than $400 billion is received by wealthy countries. Yellen stated the US wants to donate their share of SDRs to poor countries.

“The support of the US to get as many new resources to developing countries is critical,” stated LeCompte. “More resources are needed to get vaccines to developing countries. Less than 2% of vaccines have reached poor countries.”

The US recently signaled support to waive pharmaceutical patents to increase access for COVID-19 vaccines and therapies.

On climate, Yellen repeated that the US will use its full power to tackle climate change. May 24th is the sixth anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change, ‘Laudato Si.’ 

"Yellen's powerful comments on climate change to this special Vatican conference come as we are celebrating the Holy Father's landmark teaching on protecting the environment," shared LeCompte.

Read Secretary Yellen's Speech here.

View the agenda and read about the Jubilee USA Treasury High-Level Religious Leader Roundtable here.

Read Treasury's readout and release on the High-Level Roundtable here.