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The pitfalls and potential of debt-for-nature swaps: a US-Indonesian case study

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  • Cassimon, Danny
  • Prowse, Martin
  • Essers, Dennis

Abstract

The vital role of forests in limiting the likelihood of dangerous climate change has precipitated renewed interest in debt-for-nature swaps. This article uses evidence on past debt-for-nature swaps and similar debt mechanisms to assess the recent second wave of debt swaps. It outlines five typical shortcomings of this form of financial transaction: that they often fail to deliver additional resources to the debtor country; often fail to deliver more resources for conservation/climate purposes; often have a negligible effect on overall debt burdens, and, as such, do not generate more ‘indirect’ benefits; and are often in conflict with the new aid delivery paradigm’s emphasis on alignment with government policy and systems. Our analysis is applied to a recent debt-for-nature swap initiative between the United States and Indonesia. We show that this case, which we consider as a litmus test for current swap practice, performs unevenly across the five shortcomings identified. On the one hand, the swap does not create additional resources for the Government of Indonesia, is too insignificant to create indirect (positive) economic effects, and appears at odds with the new aid delivery paradigm’s insistence on system alignment. On the other hand, the swap does not reduce Government of Indonesia resources, and is very much in line with current national policy. The extent to which the resources provided by the swap are additional to other donor support and reserved domestic budget lines for conservation goals is unclear. Whilst a second generation of debt-for-nature swaps should clearly be avoided, there is a need to debate broader ways of linking debt service repayments to forest conservation.

Suggested Citation

  • Cassimon, Danny & Prowse, Martin & Essers, Dennis, 2009. "The pitfalls and potential of debt-for-nature swaps: a US-Indonesian case study," IOB Working Papers 2009.07, Universiteit Antwerpen, Institute of Development Policy (IOB).
  • Handle: RePEc:iob:wpaper:2009007
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    Cited by:

    1. Combes, J.-L. & Combes Motel, P. & Minea, A. & Villieu, P., 2015. "Deforestation and seigniorage in developing countries: A tradeoff?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 220-230.
    2. Danny Cassimon & Dennis Essers & Karel Verbeke, 2015. "What to do after the clean slate? Post-relief public debt sustainability and management," BeFinD Working Papers 0103, University of Namur, Department of Economics.
    3. Mouez Fodha & Thomas Seegmuller, 2014. "Environmental Quality, Public Debt and Economic Development," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 57(4), pages 487-504, April.
    4. Suzi C. Kerr, 2013. "The Economics of International Policy Agreements to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 7(1), pages 47-66, January.
    5. Danny Cassimon & Martin Prowse & Dennis Essers, 2014. "Financing the Clean Development Mechanism through Debt-for-Efficiency Swaps? Case Study Evidence from a Uruguayan Wind Farm Project," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 26(1), pages 142-159, January.
    6. Cassimon, Danny & Essers, Dennis, 2013. "A chameleon called debt relief," IOB Working Papers 2013.01, Universiteit Antwerpen, Institute of Development Policy (IOB).
    7. Danny Cassimon & Dennis Essers & Achmad Fauzi, 2014. "Indonesia's Debt-for-Development Swaps: Past, Present, and Future," Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(1), pages 75-100, April.
    8. Kerr, Suzi, 2012. "The Economics of International Policy Agreements to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Degredation," Motu Working Papers 189542, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.
    9. repec:nam:befdwp:3 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-00555625 is not listed on IDEAS

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