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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.
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.
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.
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.
It is now abundantly clear that aid money will provide only a fraction of the resources needed to reach the Sustainable Development Goals. That realization came early on, and it was a central theme of the Addis Financing for Development conference of 2015, held before the SDGs were even signed.
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.
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.
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.
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.