President Al Jasser Tells 38th COMCEC Ministerial Session about IsDB Group Response to COVID Aftermath, Food Insecurity, and Climate Change

Istanbul, Türkiye, 28 November 2022 – In his official visit to the city of Istanbul, Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group Chairman, HE Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser, addressed the 38th Ministerial Session of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (COMCEC) chaired by His Excellency President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Hon. President of the Republic of Türkiye.

In his speech, President Al Jasser underlined the need for collaboration to offer innovative solutions by strengthening intra-trade, intra-investment, and knowledge-sharing among OIC member countries in the face of the ongoing development challenges.

He elaborated on IsDB Group's response to the multiple crises facing the world, namely the ongoing aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the conflict in Eastern Europe, and climate change. He said these crises have reduced international trade volumes, diverted capital flows, and slowed tourism in member countries while driving global food and energy prices to alarming levels.

"In response to COVID-19 adverse effects that have gone beyond health, the IsDB Group initiated its Strategic Preparedness and Response Program (SPRP) to support member countries in containing, mitigating, and recovering from the COVID-19 impacts. In April 2022, total IsDB Group commitments under the SPRP stood at US$4.67 billion. In addition, IsDB Group and the Arab Coordination Group (ACG) have jointly committed US$10 billion toward post-pandemic recovery," Dr. Al Jasser stated. 

Touching upon the crisis in Eastern Europe that has fomented uncertainties about economic recovery prospects, the IsDB Group Chairman stated, "With regard to the gravity of the situation, IsDB has endorsed a US$10.54 billion comprehensive Food Security Response Program (FSRP) package, which aims to support member countries in addressing food security in the short term and ensure sustainable food systems in the long run." 

In response to the emerging challenges, IsDB has realigned its strategy for 2023-2025, which aims to enhance the impact of social protection and assistance in promoting human capital development, driving green economic growth, tackling poverty, and building resilience.

"To mitigate the impact of climate change, the Arab Coordination Group has announced a climate action financing package of US$24 billion for the next eight years. Of this amount, the IsDB Group is contributing US$13 billion in adaptation and mitigation finance for 2023-2030," noted the IsDB Group Chairman. "We are committed to significantly increasing the Bank's climate finance project volume in all its operations and interventions to reach the 35% target by 2025. Our current climate finance accounts for 31% of the financing, " he said.

Elsewhere in his remarks, HE Dr. Al Jasser reiterated that in addition to the pandemic's impacts and the skyrocketing food prices, the upward spiral of interest rates is exacerbating the difficulties facing member countries by imposing higher borrowing costs for existing and new debts. He pointed out that higher interest rates lead to slowed economic growth, increased unemployment, and higher food prices.

"On a positive note, however, several commodity exporters' macroeconomic outlook has improved, resulting in higher growth and lower public debt projections for IsDB member countries compared to other emerging markets and developing economies," he said.

Later in the afternoon, the 38th Ministerial Session of COMCEC saw the launch of the first "IsDB Group Integration Report," which analyzes the progress of economic integration among IsDB member states.

The IsDB Group Chairman called the report "an important milestone that brings an evidence-based perspective to policy discussions on intra-OIC integration within the OIC-2025 Program of Action framework."

"This report will also help us identify the most critical challenges to achieving greater economic integration in the OIC region," he noted. 

While assuring COMCEC members of IsDB Group's support to implement their recommendations, Dr. Al Jasser described IsDB Group's participation in the recent G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, as an excellent opportunity to meet with global partners and stakeholders. He added that the engagement allowed the Bank to highlight the vital role of Islamic finance as an innovative financing mechanism contributing to sustainable development and green transformation. 

COMCEC was established by the Third Islamic Summit Conference in Mecca/Taif in 1981. Since 1984 when it became operational at the fourth Islamic Summit Conference in Casablanca, Kingdom of Morocco, it convenes in Istanbul every year, bringing together the ministers of economy and finance of the 57 member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).