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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.



Still Lending (Mostly) After All These Years

Concern about relatively low development finance institution (DFI) mobilization ratios (dollars of private finance mobilized per dollar of DFI’s own commitments) is drawing attention to the product mix in DFI operations. 

Parting Words: Stephen Groff on His Tenure at the Asian Development Bank

With Jim Kim’s abrupt departure from the World Bank, there has been a swirl of commentary on questions of legacy, the best of which aim to answer the question, “how is the bank doing?” For large multilateral institutions like the World Bank, that’s a frustratingly difficult question to answer. Seemingly objective measures like volume of financing or sectoral targets are simplistic and bring their own value judgements about what the institution should be doing. Annual reports give us a narrative about institutional performance, but a heavily biased one.

Stock photo of various currencies

How Will Donors Spend $170 Billion This Year and Next?

In 2019-20, donors will commit roughly $170 billion of public funding to an alphabet soup of international aid organisations, many of which their citizens may never have heard of. Each replenishment will be considered as a separate exercise, ignoring the reality that they are competing for limited donor resources.

Figure 3. Number of IDFC institutions active within each SDG

The Biggest Club You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

SDGs. Billions to trillions. South-South development cooperation. Development finance. If these terms resonate with you (positively or negatively), and you’ve never heard of the International Development Finance Club (IDFC), you should rectify that. At least, that’s the conclusion we’ve drawn after a year-long study of the IDFC and its member institutions. This work has culminated in a new CGD report, The International Development Finance Club and the Sustainable Development Goals: Impact, Opportunities, and Challenges

Abstract graphic of different connections and nodes

Development Agencies: Fit for the Future?

Official bilateral and multilateral development agencies are under strain from opposing forces: on the one hand, they are confronted with a world in which the development challenges are interconnected and daunting, and the risks are systemic and increasing; on the other, they are grappling with a world in which ardent nationalism, protectionism, and populism are rising, and rules-based multilateralism is declining.

watercolor paint

Don’t Let Development Finance Institutions Water Down Principles on Subsidizing Private Companies

In my last blog post on the IDA Private Sector Window, I noted the strong principles on subsidies to the private sector that were agreed by the heads of the multilateral development banks (MDBs) in 2012 as part of the Multilateral Development Bank Principles to Support Sustainable Private Sector Operations. Those principles can be summarized as “start with the public policy problem, use open offers or competitive approaches, maximize transparency.” It is interesting to compare the MDB principles to the principles which later emerged from the DFI Working Group on Blended Concessional Finance for Private Sector Projects.

road through forest

China’s “Green” Belt and Road Initiative Isn’t Very Green

What would it look like today if major multilateral finance institutions like the World Bank had never adopted the climate agenda as a binding constraint on their operations? Unfortunately, we have a real-world approximation of that hypothetical in the form of Chinese development finance. At least, that’s a conclusion I draw from an important new report from World Resources Institute (WRI) and Boston University, Moving the Green Belt and Road Initiative: From Words to Actions.

international currencies

Redesigning the IDA Private Sector Window for Impact: Some Principles and Potential Practices

I have previously suggested that the current design of the $2.5 billion World Bank/IDA Private Sector Window (PSW) seemed an inefficient use of scarce aid resources, didn’t follow the World Bank’s own guidance on disclosure and design of subsidies to the private sector, and is noncompetitive, nontransparent, and unstructured. In this blog post, I offer some ideas on how the World Bank Group could reconstruct the PSW towards real development impact in the next round of IDA funding, to be negotiated in 2019.

The International Finance Facility for Education: The Wrong Answer to the Right Question?

Donors are considering a proposal for a new “innovative finance mechanism” to increase funding for education, based on recommendations from Gordon Brown’s Education Commission. We agree that we need to finance an expansion of education in the developing world. But sadly, the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) proposal is too good to be true. Using donor guarantees to increase lending by multilateral banks could increase the supply of loans—but there are simpler ways to do that without setting up a new facility.