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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.

 

Nancy Birdsall to Deliver Kapuscinski Development Lecture in Berlin

On February 23, CGD President Nancy Birdsall will deliver the first Kapuscinski Development Lecture of 2016 in Berlin, Germany. Her lecture, “The New Middle Class in the Developing World: Does It Matter?” will take a hard look at what it means to be middle class in developing countries and explore the role of strugglers, the rapidly expanding group of people caught between extreme poverty and the middle class.

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.

EBRD Raises the Bar for International Appointments

On Friday evening, the governors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development   (EBRD) selected a new president: British civil servant Sir Suma Chakrabarti. The decision is important because the EBRD has recently taken on a major global challenge: assisting the countries of the Arab Spring.  It also matters because the selection process raised the bar for open, transparent and merit-based leadership selection at other international institutions, including the World Bank, IMF and the other regional development banks.

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.

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?

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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