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What if international development finance paid for outcomes, like children educated or diseases avoided, rather than inputs like classrooms built or medicines procured? That’s the premise of CGD’s longstanding work on Cash-on-Delivery Aid. By paying only for the verified progress on measured outcomes, donors are assured of value for money, and recipients have the flexibility and incentive to innovate. This idea is taking hold in education, health, and other sectors.
In Norway last year I met with the impressive staff of one of the world’s largest and smartest NGOs. They were unhappy that Norwegian aid money was being used to discourage deforestation in Brazil instead of to immunize children and educate girls in low-income Africa—in other words, to deal with climate change rather than “development.” I countered that minimizing climate change is a crucial piece of development, and urged them to rethink the issue.
Recently I participated in a roundtable on the future of carbon markets at the Center for American Progress. The discussion, co- sponsored by Climate Advisers, was co-chaired by former U.S. senator Tom Daschle and former EPA administrator Carol Browner, and included CAP chair John Podesta. Jim Kim, the president of the World Bank, made opening remarks. In other words, the participants included lots of insiders who know a thing or two about how Washington works—and doesn’t.
Many obstacles to development transcend national borders and therefore cannot be adequately addressed within a single country. These include issues such as drug resistance and other cross-border health risks, financial crises contagion, money laundering, water scarcity, fisheries collapse and, of course, climate change. Economists call efforts to address these problems Global Public Goods (GPGs). Like other public goods, funding for GPGs is chronically in short supply: of $125 billion in annual official development assistance (ODA ) only about $3 billion goes to GPGs.
President Obama’s inaugural address rehabilitated the words “climate change” from their election period exile. He won praise from around the world for devoting over a minute of his twenty-minute speech to climate change.
The stalemate in the latest round of climate negotiations, held in Doha, Qatar, last month, makes it clear that a fresh approach is needed if the world is to avert climate catastrophe. One part of the solution should be a new global climate agency, founded, financed and led by a coalition of the big emerging market countries.
There were lots of critical foreign policy debate topics to cover during the final presidential debate—like the US auto industry—so we didn’t hear quite as much on development issues like climate change or global health as I might have liked.
Gaps aside, there were a surprising number of references to the importance of development to US soft power. Both candidates referenced the connection between developing countries’ economic growth and US national security.