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.

 

Europe’s Policy Footprint on Development

This is a joint post with Liza Reynolds.

This blog post announces the launch of the Europe Beyond Aid initiative and presents a summary of the research and preliminary analysis in its first working paper.

Europeans more than pull their weight in aid to developing countries. Last year Europeans provided more than €60 billion ($80bn) in aid, more than two and a half times as much as the United States. European members account for just 40% of the national income of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) but give more than 60% of the aid.

Two More Reasons for Preemptive Contract Sanctions in Syria

With relentlessly bad news out of Syria, the search continues for what the world can do to put pressure on Assad’s regime and to lay the groundwork for a future, legitimate Syrian government. The case for preemptive contract sanctions is becoming ever more compelling. Under this approach, the United States, United Kingdom, and other members of the Friends of Syria, would declare that new contracts with the Assad regime are illegitimate and that our courts should not enforce them if a legitimate successor government in Syria repudiates them. This could deter new loans and investments in Syria’s oil or other sectors and send a signal to the Assad regime that the economic pressure will not loosen.

Why Development Impact Bonds?

Development Impact Bonds come at a price: private investors provide upfront funding for social interventions and expect a return, including some compensation for the risk they are taking, if outcomes are delivered.  Is that price worth paying?  The second meeting of the CGD and Social Finance Development Impact Bonds Working Group recently considered this question in some detail.

The 2012 Commitment to Development Index

This post is coauthored with Julia Clark. You can listen to the pre-release podcast with David Roodman and Owen Barder.

We're proud to announce the release of the tenth edition of the Commitment to Development Index. Each year since 2003, the CDI has ranked wealthy nations on how much their governments' policies and actions support global prosperity. Nations are linked in many ways: through trade, aid, climate, technology, and more. The CDI assesses policies in all these areas in order to communicate that helping takes more than aid, and to organize a comprehensive agenda for development policy.

Complexity, Adaptation, and Results

In the last of a series of three blog posts looking at the implications of complexity theory for development, Owen Barder and Ben Ramalingam look at the implications of complexity for the trend towards results-based management in development cooperation. They argue that is a common mistake to see a contradiction between recognising complexity and focusing on results: on the contrary, complexity provides a powerful reason for pursuing the results agenda, but it has to be done in ways which reflect the context. In the 2012 Kapuscinski lecture Owen argued that economic and political systems can best be thought of as complex adaptive systems, and that development should be understood as an emergent property of those systems. As explained in detail in Ben’s forthcoming book, these interactive systems are made up of adaptive actors, whose actions are a self-organised search for fitness on a shifting landscape. Systems like this undergo change in dynamic, non-linear ways; characterised by explosive surprises and tipping points as well as periods of relative stability. If development arises from the interactions of a dynamic and unpredictable system, you might draw the conclusion that it makes no sense to try to assess or measure the results of particular development interventions. That would be the wrong conclusion to reach. While the complexity of development implies a different way of thinking about evaluation, accountability and results, it also means that the ‘results agenda’ is more important than ever.

All That Glisters: The Golden Thread and Complexity

David Cameron co-chairs the UN Panel on the future of the development agenda, so his 'golden thread' view of development is likely to have a global impact. In the second of three blog posts looking at development policy through the lens of complexity thinking, Owen Barder asks whether the British government's golden thread is good development policy. He concludes that though it has much to commend it, it also has significant weaknesses.

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, wants us to stop talking simply about the quantity of aid we give, and:

“start talking about what I call the ‘golden thread’, which is you only get real long-term development through aid if there is also a golden thread of stable government, lack of corruption, human rights, the rule of law, transparent information.”

This is not a new wheeze: Mr Cameron has been talking about the golden thread since before he became leader of the Conservative party. Given that he is a co-chair of the UN High Level Panel on the global development agenda after 2015, we can expect to see some of this thinking in that panel’s recommendations.

What Is Development?

This is the first of three blog posts looking at the implications of complexity theory for development. These posts draw on a new online lecture by Owen Barder, based on his Kapuscinski Lecture in May 2012 which was sponsored by UNDP and the EU. In this post, Barder explains how complexity science, which is belatedly getting more attention from mainstream economists, gives a new perspective to the meaning of ‘development’.

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