Special Report by Gary N. Kleiman
In 2019 the World Refugee & Migration Council issued “A Call to Action” recognizing the need for private sector innovation to meet the fiscal challenges posed by the global refugee crisis. The majority of countries hosting refugees are emerging markets where global banks and fund managers actively invest. Traditional credit and capital market instruments including sovereign refugee bonds and equity funds can be adapted to fill the gap left by inadequate UNHCR and other public sector funding. Designed under a public-private partnership, these new products would have broad appeal to both mainstream and Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG)-focused investors.
Today countries like Colombia/Ecuador, Jordan/Turkey, Bangladesh, and Kenya are facing severe fiscal challenges in hosting refugee populations which worsened during the global pandemic. Many also have large numbers of internally displaced persons. These countries all have established capital markets with active foreign institutional investor participation, and credit ratings from the global ratings agencies. The new instruments would have specific reporting for use of proceeds, offering issuers a less expensive financing option, and could carry guarantees or other credit enhancements from development lenders, further lowering costs. Stock exchange listed companies, often already hiring or serving migrant communities, could leverage participation and raise large commercial sums through a dedicated fund.
The World Refugee & Migration Council is uniquely positioned to convene a public-private sector group, including financial, development and humanitarian representatives, to prepare in detail inaugural transactions of hundreds of millions to billions of dollars to meet the social and infrastructure needs of the world’s 80 million displaced people.