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What will it take to end extreme poverty by 2030? That is the goal President Obama included in his SOTU in 2013, President Kim recently announced as the World Bank's key objective, and that USAID Administrator Raj Shah will discuss Thursday in a much-anticipated speech at the Brookings Institution.
A $1 trillion financing partnership to support ending extreme poverty, stopping avoidable child deaths, and meeting other widely supported post-2015 development goals sounds far-fetched. But improbable action is what will be needed if we’re going to come close to making such historically unprecedented progress. Indeed, delivering on proposed zero goals is going to take a broad and deep global partnership that’s about far more than aid.
The World Bank has decided to make this problem – the divergence of the organization’s rhetoric on “extreme poverty” and their clients’ desire for support in their national development agendas – even worse. They have announced that their goal is to “eradicate extreme poverty” (while only “monitoring” the income of the poorest 40 percent in each country—but with no goal).
The momentum seems to be building for a goal to “eradicate poverty by 2030.” Reducing poverty is a noble goal, one to which I fully subscribe. But the “eradicate poverty” campaign is actually only focused on “extreme” poverty which is an absurdly low and completely arbitrary definition of the poverty.
Over the past few months, quite a bit of high-level rhetoric has surrounded World Bank funding of coal projects in developing countries. On one side, Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, stated that “it is no longer necessary [for the World Bank to invest in coal projects] because we have many other technologies that can come forward.” On the other side, World Bank president Jim Kim stated that “we will look for everything we can possibly do to avoid [coal projects] but look, poor people should not pay the price with their lives of mistakes that people have been making in the developed world for a very long time.”
Up to now, the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (sadly still not widely AKA the HiPoPoDomAe) has done a pretty good job of displaying public collegiality. But in the lead-up to today’s Panel meetings in New York, that began to break down. A story in the Guardian suggested that drafts of the report have been described as “absolutely awful&
The United Kingdom has been a stalwart funder and innovator in foreign assistance for almost 20 years. In 2011, it created the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) to report to Parliament on the country’s growing aid portfolio. ICAI is a QUANGO in Brit-speak – a quasi-public non-governmental organization - with a 4-year mandate which is undergoing review this year. Recently, I took a look at the reports it has produced to see whether the organization is fulfilling its role in holding the country’s overseas development aid programs accountable. I found one fascinating report which shows what ICAI could be doing and many more reports that made me wonder whether ICAI is duplicating work already within the purview of the agency, Department for International Development (DFID), which accounts for most of the UK’s foreign assistance programs.