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Project information

On the frontline: debt, disasters & climate change

Small island states are sinking deeper into debt whilst being hit hard by climate change disasters. This project aims to secure debt relief and grants – not loans – for disaster recovery, so small islands don’t end up paying a double price.

May 2017 - December 2020

Charity information: Jubilee Debt Campaign

Jubilee Debt Campaign logo
  • Need


    Small island states like those in the Caribbean did little to cause the global problem of climate change. But they are paying a double price for it. On the frontline of growing climate impacts, they face increasingly frequent and devastating disasters, with big economic costs and loss of life. Hurricanes now regularly cause hundreds of millions of pounds of damage each year. And lack of international support means small island states must borrow to rebuild, sinking them ever deeper into debt.


    Working with global partners, this project will secure debt relief for heavily-indebted small island states on the frontline of climate change, and ensure they receive grants not loans to fund recovery and reconstruction from future disasters. By reducing debt levels and stopping countries like Dominica and Grenada from having to take on new debt in response to disasters, the project will help build economic resilience and ensure they can use scarce public funds to address pressing social needs.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To secure immediate debt relief for small island states hit by natural disasters.


    » Rapid response public education in response to natural disasters to highlight the need for debt relief, including media and social media.
    » Outreach to key UK and international partners to secure their involvement in rapid response campaigning
    » Coordinated advocacy with UK and international partners, targeting the UK and other donor governments, the IMF and World Bank
    » Mobilising UK public support for debt relief for affected countries, via online petitions, postcards, stalls and events.

    What success will look like

    Countries affected by severe weather impacts receive immediate relief from debt payments, facilitating disaster recovery and reconstruction.

    Aim 2

    To secure a permanent, effective, automatic debt relief process in response to disasters.


    » Working with international partners to agree a joint proposal for a permanent mechanism for debt relief in response to disasters
    » Advocacy to build support for the mechanism from UK Parliamentarians and civil servants
    » Coordinating joint advocacy work with international partners to secure support for the mechanism from key governments, the World Bank and IMF
    » Mobilising UK debt justice activists to support the proposal and lobby their members of Parliament

    What success will look like

    Multilateral agreement on a new permanent debt relief process in response to disasters, so that affected countries receive rapid and automatic debt relief.

    Aim 3

    To ensure that small island states do not have to take on new debts to rebuild after disasters.


    » Monitoring international funds for disaster reconstruction and climate adaptation
    » Advocacy work with the UK Government, Parliamentarians and civil servants to build support for grants not loans
    » Coordinating advocacy with key international partners to encourage the IMF and World Bank to provide grants not loans

    What success will look like

    Small island states receive grants rather than loans from the international community to fund disaster reconstruction and climate adaptation.

  • Impact


    The project will tackle the runaway public debts of small island states hit by climate disasters. It will secure debt relief to bring debts down to sustainable levels, and ensure funds for disaster recovery and reconstruction come as grants, not loans. This will mean more funds are available for tackling poverty and providing key public services. Success will be demonstrated by decreased debt levels, increased debt sustainability, and progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.


    The main risk of this project is that of failure. Without international action, small island states will sink further into a debt trap, paying more of their national incomes on debt repayments and getting deeper into debt to rebuild after each disaster. This will mean less money for tackling poverty and providing essential public services like education and healthcare. Key global actors may see devastation in these frontline climate-affected countries as inevitable. Our role is to change that.


    We will post regular updates on the project on our website and in email updates to donors via our enews list. In addition, we will provide more detailed reporting on the project’s progress through our annual report and accounts. Further information will be available to donors by request.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £60,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £6,000 Project Coordination Project planning, strategy development, coordination and monitoring
      £10,500 Research & Analysis Researching and monitoring debt/finance data and policies, and financial and political developments.
      £9,500 Policy & Advocacy Briefing and influencing civil society, Parliamentarians, decision-makers and the media
      £5,500 International Coordination Travel and international coordination, including visiting partners and strategy meetings
      £15,000 Communications & Media Production and dissemination of reports and briefings; media work, social media and website hosting
      £4,000 Activism & Events Educational & awareness-raising events, mobilising supporters to take action
      £9,500 Supporter Materials Production/dissemination of education and campaigning materials, including leaflets and postcards
  • Background


    The main activities will take place in the UK. We will analyse the debt levels of affected countries; support campaigners in those countries with strategy, policy, and campaigning; coordinate with global partners on international campaigning and advocacy; lobby representatives of the UK government and Parliament; secure media coverage in UK and international outlets; and educate and organise with key UK audiences, including grassroots activists and diaspora community organisations.


    The main beneficiaries are the poorer inhabitants of small island states whose lives and livelihoods are being devastated by climate disasters and growing public indebtedness. We aim to bring public debt payments down to a sustainable level and ensure their governments don’t have to borrow to respond to climate change. We will therefore help ensure scarce government funds are available for tackling poverty and improving access to key public services like water, healthcare and education.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We are the only UK organisation focused on global debt issues, with a strong track record of delivering increased education, awareness and real-world policy change. Key successes include $135 billion of debt cancellation for 36 poor countries as part of the global Jubilee campaign, and new UK laws on vulture funds. We are already connected to groups in the Caribbean and around the world seeking change on this issue, and have a strong network of local activists and UK and international allies.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Sarah-Jayne Clifton

    Director of Jubilee Debt Campaign, with 13 years’ experience of campaigning and advocacy on global justice issues.

    Tim Jones

    Senior Policy Officer and debt and finance specialist, leading Jubilee Debt Campaign’s research, analysis and policy development.

    Clare Walden

    Activism & Outreach Officer, responsible for outreach, education, activism and movement-building work.

    Jenny Nelson

    Campaign Communications Officer and our lead on campaign communications and social media.