The annual April Harvard Ministerial Forum convened finance and economic planning Ministers from Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Supported by more than a dozen long-serving former Ministers and Heads of Government, the incumbent Ministers focused on how to leverage sufficient resources to invest in stimulating sustainable economic growth at a time when a large proportion of available state revenues are consumed by servicing substantial foreign debts.

Although most developing countries, particularly in Africa, were heavily indebted before the COVID pandemic, borrowing to manage the pandemic and its effects dramatically ramped up international borrowing. A situation further complicated by global economic conditions.

The April Ministerial Forum at Harvard is a flagship component of the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program which annually invites a select number of serving Ministers to Harvard for the four-day event. While at Harvard, Ministers have the opportunity to step back from their day-to-day duties and reflect on their goals, as well as the challenges they face in office.

Given current economic conditions, a central tenant of discussions with current Ministers was the idea of seizing the opportunity in the prevailing crisis. The point being that Finance Ministers generally enjoy a degree of elevated political influence and authority, but most follow a purely technocratic approach. Discussants urged Finance Ministers to use their positions to organize a coordinated, cross-government strategy for investment in human development-related initiatives with the best potential for shoring up sustainable economic growth. Aligning policy and program goals across government would help optimize available resources and potential outcomes.

The Minister Forum focuses on practical actions. Ministers were able to examine and plan how to lead and organize a cross-government coalition, as well as practical steps to increase available resources through greater cost efficiency, improved revenue collection, and lower-cost domestic borrowing.

Following their time at Harvard, participating Ministers are able to access a menu of support resources available virtually and through in-person contact with Harvard faculty, as well as the network of former Ministers and Heads of Government. The April 2024 Forum for Finance Ministers was the tenth such Forum. Since its launch in 2012, 274 Ministers from 70 countries have participated in the Harvard Ministerial Program.

More information can be found here.