In August 2021, the 190 member countries of the International Monetary Fund - working together to tackle the pandemic, a crisis like no other - delivered an achievement like no other :

A historic $650 billion injection of Special Drawing Rights {SDRs} to help the global economy, and especially nations that are suffocating amid COVID-19 lockdowns.

SDRs an economic asset created by the IMF to strengthen countries' foreign exchange reserves. A new allocation of them is rare; the last one, in 2009 was aimed at recovery from the global financial crisis.

Most people don't know what SDRs are, but millions benefit from their existence. Put simply, the IMF distributes additional reserves its members because it relies on their collective strength. Reflecting the unprecedented crisis, 2021's was the biggest allocation of SDRs ever.

Countries are using the funds to help meet vital needs in this pandemic, from Senegal increasing vaccine production capacity to Haiti financing critical imports.

So how did we make it happen? First, we worked with all our members. With so many countries, agreement requires intensive dialogue and diplomacy. It is a tribute to the spirit of cooperation that we all concluded this was the right thing to do at the right time to help the entire world.

Second, we worked with other international institutions. This includes development banks like the African Development Bank with the regional expertise and capacity to help ensure the SDRs ''hit the ground most effectively,'' as its president, Akinwumi Adesina, has said.

Third, we worked with wealthier members to amplify the benefits of the SDRs, which are allocated by countries' share in the IMF.

While about $275 billion went to emerging and developing nations - with new SDRs amounting to as much as 6% of GDP for some - the most vulnerable need more.

That's we urge member with strong reserves to voluntarily channel SDRs to poorer countries. IMF members also established a trust through which SDRs can help vulnerable countries not only recover but also build forward better, addressing crucial challenges like climate change.

The SDR allocation is a historic example of collaboration at its best : countries coming together to help each other - and to help people -in a time of need.

The World Students Society thanks author Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director, IMF.


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