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Brian Atwood (OECD-DAC Chair) Reflects on Busan Progress

Brian Atwood, the chair of the Development Assistance Committee at the OECD (and administrator of USAID from 1992 to 1998), was one of the key figures at last week’s Busan High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. He had to help find a balance between broadening the alliance to include new and emerging donors with pushing for further and faster reforms among the main existing donors and multilateral institutions. He has shared with us his reflections on the progress made in Busan, and I encourage you to read them below. He argues that the agreement reached there has set a new direction in the effort to rationalize the global architecture for development.

How the Open Government Partnership May Have Contributed to Busan

This is a joint post with Stephanie Majerowicz

“The defining division these days is increasingly: open or closed? Are we open to the changing world? Or do we see its menace, but not its possibilities?”

—Tony Blair, A Global Alliance for Global Values, September 2006

It is easy to be cynical about international summits and their carefully drafted communiqués. But they sometimes matter more than people expect. (If they didn’t, why would government officials put so much time and effort into negotiating the text?) Even if the text is often a bland compromise, these meetings can help to move an issue forward, by locking in a new consensus which forms the platform for further progress.

No, British Medical Journal, the Emigration of African Doctors Did Not Cost Africa $2 Billion

Last week the respected British Medical Journal published a back-of-the-envelope calculation by Mills et al. suggesting that the emigration of physicians from Africa cost the continent billions of dollars and saved billions for the countries of destination. I share and appreciate the authors’ concern for strengthening health care systems in Africa. But the numbers they calculate are deeply flawed, and their unfortunate arithmetic should be ignored by policymakers.

Will Donors Hide behind China?

This post was originally featured on Owen Barder’s Owen Abroad: Thoughts on Development and Beyond blog.

Will the largest aid donors hide behind China to excuse their inability to make substantial improvements in foreign aid? How can Busan balance the desire to be more universal with the pressing need for real changes in the way aid is given?

Cannes G-20 Summit Founders on Europe’s Woes (Will Los Cabos Be Better?)

This is a joint post with Owen Barder

Whether future historians remember last week’s G-20 Summit in Cannes will depend on what happens in the weeks and months ahead. If the eurozone problems spiral out of control, Cannes will be to the coming crash as the 1933 London Economic Conference was to the Great Depression: a lost chance to avert calamity. If Europe muddles through, the brief association of Cannes with the G-20 will be soon forgotten and the resort will again be famous for its film festival.

What Happens When Donors Fail to Meet Their Commitments?

This is a joint post with Rita Perakis.

Has the aid industry introduced the reforms it agreed in 2005 to make aid more effective? No, according to the survey published last week by the OECD DAC. In this blog post we reflect on why this matters, and what it means for the forthcoming summit in Busan.

Related Podcast

A Moveable Feast of Meetings: Owen Barder

The development sector is in a mess. Developing countries have to deal with a large and growing number of partners, each with separate agendas, priorities, and requirements. Meetings, reports, milestones and systems multiply. Skilled staff are hired away from governments and from business to serve in local agency offices or NGOs. Funding is fragmented and unpredictable, which means that developing countries are often unable to bring together the scale of long-term, predictable finance needed to undertake significant institutional reform and service delivery. As just one example - in Vietnam, it took 18 months and the involvement of 150 government workers to purchase just five vehicles for a donor-funded project, because of differences in procurement policies among aid agencies.

IMF Leadership: OK for Now, but Fixing the Process Shouldn’t Wait

Christine Lagarde is now firmly in place at the IMF, and her competence, political savvy, and good humor bode well for the institution and the global economy.  Indeed, with the crisis in the eurozone upon us, the results of CGD’s spring survey on how a managing director should be chosen at the IMF may feel behind the moment if not the times—but anyone with five minutes to spare should take a look at David Wheeler’s analysis of the results.

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