MDBs for a Global Future: Centering Borrowing Country Perspectives

We live in a world confronted by multiple global crises. Many of these crises—like climate change and global pandemics—defy national borders and will require unprecedented levels of investment to be contained. Global public goods (GPGs) like emissions mitigation or the development of new antibiotics are key to a less crisis prone world, but they have been underinvested in. Multilateral development banks (MDBs) like the World Bank are well positioned to address many of these global challenges by virtue of their size, reach, and scope. The challenge ahead is how to transform—and transform quickly—these organization so they are more relevant for today’s world. 

As part of a major new CGD initiative, MDBs for a Global Future, we are exploring how the MDBs can be transformed for the challenges of the coming decades, what those changes to the MDB system look like in practice, and what adequate financing and technical assistance is required.

An effective transformation of the MDB system can’t happen from Washington alone—what emerging markets and low-income countries alike want from the MDB system will need to be front and center. To ensure borrower perspectives are a major part of the conversation, we held an event with finance officials from Egypt, Uruguay, Senegal and Nigeria on MDB reform alongside the Annual Meetings. Now, we’re following it up with more in-depth discussion from two more finance ministers.

Nadia Al Fettah, the Minister of Economy and Finance of Morocco, and Michel Patrick Boisvert, the Minister of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Haiti, kindly agreed to write essays on what they see as the most important role for the MDBs in addressing current and long-term global challenges, and how they’d like to see the system evolve. Both ministers emphasize the need for MDBs to take on a larger role in providing GPGs and to increase both their financial and technical support. To do so, they both call for MDBs to adopt new instruments and policies and argue that financing must both increase in volume and be used more efficiently. Success also depends on reaching consensus among shareholders and alignment between international institutions, developing countries and other development partners.

Minister Al Fettah calls for MDBs to be at the forefront of the international community in supporting the protection of GPGs, especially climate, biodiversity, and global health, and to be more proactive in anticipating and helping developing countries prepare for future crises. She calls for and lays out a plan for “a comprehensive and profound reform of the current multilateral system, combining efficiency and inclusiveness and conditioning the transition of the global system towards a more integrated, prosperous, fair and sustainable one, capable of better managing possible future crises.”

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Minister Boisvert focuses on actions the MDBs and other international actors like the International Monetary Fund can take to address food insecurity, climate change, fragility, unemployment, and migration, which impede progress in growth and development. The Minister emphasizes the need for policies to account for country and regional contexts and promote—rather than stifle—national productivity and income growth.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.