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I’m clearly not much of a prognosticator. In highlighting, with skepticism, the World Bank’s new Global Infrastructure Facility as a major G-20 Brisbane outcome on infrastructure, I missed far more of the actual agenda than I should have.
As we approach the G-20 Leaders Summit in Brisbane, it is worth giving credit to Australia for its robust presidency, and particularly the attention paid to the G-20’s development agenda. Sandwiched between the Russian and Turkish presidencies—countries considerably more controversial these days in the West—Australia faced the difficult task of generating sufficient goodwill among the membership within a year to make some progress on a sprawling work plan.
Lost in all of the noise of the post-Lehman crisis response was an important structural shift in the international development landscape: a much bigger footprint for the regional development banks relative to the World Bank.
Starting in 2009, the G20 pursued a number of measures to help developing countries weather the crisis, one of the most visible of which was an agreement to have the multilateral development banks (MDBs) lend aggressively into the crisis, paired with the commitment of new capital from the institutions’ shareholders in subsequent years.