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Owen Barder is a Vice President at the Center for Global Development, Director for Europe and a senior fellow. He is also a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics and a Specialist Adviser to the UK House of Commons International Development Committee. Barder was a British civil servant from 1988 to 2010, during which time he worked in No.10 Downing Street, as Private Secretary (Economic Affairs) to the Prime Minister; in the UK Treasury, including as Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and in the Department for International Development, where he was variously Director of International Finance and Global Development Effectiveness, Director of Communications and Information, and head of Africa Policy & Economics Department. As a young Treasury economist, Barder set up the first UK government website, to put details of the 1994 budget online.
As President Obama convenes an important global summit on refugees, and world leaders at the UN General Assembly address the burgeoning issue of migration and forced displacement, we’ve taken a closer look at how the richest countries in the world support development and the alleviation of poverty through their migration policies. Migration is one of the seven components of our Commitment to Development Index, an annual exercise to marshall millions of data points to track how rich country policies affect the world’s poorest people and places, across seven different policy areas.
“Private sector” appears 18 times in the outcome document from last year’s UN financing for development conference in Addis Ababa—exactly the same number of times as “international cooperation.” As we approach the first anniversary of the world signing up to the SDGs, where are the ideas that bring private sector ingenuity and capital to delivering them? In the coming weeks, we’re going to tell you about six.
“Cat” bonds are effectively a cheaper source of large-scale insurance coverage against clearly measured risks like earthquakes, storms, or even disease outbreaks. Generally, though, coverage hasn’t trickled down to the poorer and most at-risk countries—precisely those which are most vulnerable when aid fails to arrive or arrives piecemeal. Scaling up this market for lower-income countries would provide better shielding against many risks that undermine development overseas.
There is a lot of chatter about the reasons for Britain’s relative success in the Olympic games. This transformation in Britain’s sporting performance has generated a raft of tortured analogies with various non-sporting challenges, such as industrial and education policies (on which Britain’s performance is rather less stellar). So I’m leaping on the bandwagon with two lessons for international development.
Would you believe us if we told you approximately half of those granted asylum in the EU qualified for other reasons from the formal 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention definition of a “well-founded fear of persecution”? It turns out to be true. The details of refugee status determination are little noticed, but it turns out that international protection can also be granted through “subsidiary” and “humanitarian” designations.
The UK Secretary of State for International Development has made a big speech emphasising economic growth. That's good, but it is a shame that it is all about how DFID will use its aid budget, and makes no mention of all the other things that Britain can do to improve the prospects for growth and prosperity in the developing world.
The Syrian regime of Bashar Assad has killed thousands of people since protests began last year. The Arab League, United States and European Union have condemned the violence and imposed strong sanctions against Syria’s oil sector and central bank, but they have not adequately hindered the regime. It’s time to try a new tool that would strengthen existing sanctions: preemptive contract sanctions.
International aid works, but it could work much better. Reform efforts focused on better planning often ignore what constrains aid agencies and takes the bite out of their commitments. In this working paper, Owen Barder shows how forming a "collaborative market" around aid—one marked by transparency and collective regulation—would pave the way for more effective aid.