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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Economics & Marginalia: November 19, 2021

How do parents of young children get anything done? Even in a two-parent household, the nursery/home-with-fever cycle is relentless (and, in the case of our little one, a little too heavy on the home-with-fever side of the cycle for my liking). Anyway, by my count I’ve got a few hours before I’m struck down by whatever bug my little petri dish is currently incubating, just in time for the weekend. Let’s hope I finish the links before it hits. Even more necessary, because the last link features a grown man (yes, me) screaming like a small excited child at the prospect of the new Spiderman movie, and a superhero who is a Bollywood star (rather than a Bollywood knock-off of a superhero) prompting a lot of Bollywood clips.

A graphic showing the world map against a city scape

For Climate Finance, Stop Counting Beans and Start Counting Beanstalks: The Case for a Pull Mechanism

COP26, like previous UN climate change conferences, has seen no shortage of “big round number” announcements aimed at making a splash in the press and signaling virtuous intent. Such announcements—be they promising $100 billion a year, demanding $1 trillion, or finding an additional £1 billion from the official development assistance (ODA) budget for climate finance—have the side effect of drawing scrutiny to the pledge itself and not the pledge’s impact.

British currency laid out on a surface

UK Aid: How Secure is the Pathway Back to 0.7 Percent?

The UK government has announced that it anticipates a return to spending 0.7 percent of gross national income (GNI) on official development assistance (ODA) in three years’ time. It is confident enough in this that the just-published Spending Review, which sets departmental budgets up to the 2024/25 fiscal year, has set aside provisional funding to return to the 0.7 percent ODA target for this eventuality in 2024/25.

An image of vaccines.

ODA Rules Must Ensure that Vaccine Donations Count for the Poor

After buying up the World’s vaccine supply to ensure they can protect their own populations, rich countries have found themselves struggling to use the vaccine surpluses they accumulated. One response has been to donate the spare doses to countries who need them more. This is laudable, and countries who have done so want to receive credit for such actions in their aid statistics—what is known as Official Development Assistance (ODA).

A minnow in a pond. Adobe Stock

Turning the UK from a Development Superpower to a Development Minnow in Six Easy Steps

There are a plausible set of circumstances under which the UK’s status as a serious bilateral donor would be under existential threat. They would take the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) from having slightly more than £8 billion in 2019 over which it has full flexibility to spend bilaterally on its priorities in the most effective manner it can, to having just about £2 billion next year. This would amount to a complete gutting of the UK’s status as a major bilateral development presence, essentially depriving its new Secretary of State of one its most potent weapons almost immediately after she assumes the brief.

An image of a title card

Economics & Marginalia: September 10, 2021

There was some good this week, too, though – most notably the ten-year anniversary of Michael Clemens’s seminal Journal of Economic Perspectives paper, Economics and Emigration: Trillion-Dollar Bills on the Sidewalk? The anniversary prompted Michael to discuss the struggles he had in getting it published, generating a quite extraordinary response from the many, many economists who owe the very shape of their worldview to it.

Image of a syringe and a bottle of vaccine

What’s the Right Price for Surplus COVID-19 Vaccines? The Answer Is Closer to Zero Than You Might Think.

Many rich countries pre-ordered vast quantities of COVID-19 vaccines when they were still in development, enough to vaccinate their countries many times over.  What is the right ‘price’ to pay for surplus vaccines, as opposed to those newly purchased? And how much of their value should be counted as Official Development Assistance (ODA)? The choice matters for two reasons: firstly, it sets a precedent for the valuation of secondhand goods as development aid, which in turn sets incentives for donors. And secondly, some donors operate an ODA ceiling

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