Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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.


Missing in the Infrastructure Rush: Intact Ecosystems

This year, a common theme of those discussions was financing for infrastructure investment in developing countries.  I’m disappointed, but not surprised, that these conversations tend to focus exclusively on the need for new bricks-and-mortar infrastructure to meet needs for energy, water, or transport services, and seldom acknowledge the need to maintain the ecological infrastructure that already provides a large portion of those services for many of the world’s poor.

Halting and Reversing Deforestation Critical to +2 °C Climate Target

The newly released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, "Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change,” describes the actions that people will need to take if we are to maintain a safe and stable global climate.  Like the two previous IPCC reports (which I have written about here and here), it is based on the collective volunteer work of dozens of top scientists and economists synthesizing the findings of thousands of peer-reviewed articles.

How Well Are Performance-Based Payments Working? Lessons from Guyana

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 educationhealth, and other sectors.

Do Trees Grow on Money? The Problem of Attribution

How can donors know if their aid is making a difference? This question is tougher than it seems. Attributing results to donor inputs seems straightforward if the donor pays for progress on a measurable outcome, as CGD has proposed for Cash on Delivery Aid (COD Aid). If the desired results are achieved—say an increase above an agreed baseline in the number of kids completing primary school and taking a competency test—then the program has demonstrated value for money, no?