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CGD in the News

February 7, 2019

Ivanka Trump’s plan pledges $50 million of USAID money to pull 50 million women from poverty (Washington Post)

From the article:

Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the president and a senior White House adviser, announced a new global effort Thursday to help 50 million women in the developing world by 2025.

“This new initiative will for the first time coordinate America’s commitment to one of the most undervalued resources in the developing world — the talent, ambition and genius of women,” Trump wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that announced the news. For the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, the U.S. government will team up with several private companies such as UPS and Pepsi to “facilitate complementary private-sector investments to achieve our shared goals,” Trump said.

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“$1 per woman, or rather $0.02 per woman, once you subtract the money WalMart and others will spend on glossy, self-congratulatory advertisements,” Brad Simpson, a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, wrote on Twitter.

“If you ever doubted the Trump Administration’s belief in aid effectiveness, think again: the new Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative provides $50m a year from USAID to economically empower 50 million women worldwide by 2025,” Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at a Center for Global Development, wrote in his own tweet. “That’s just a dollar a year each!” Kenny added.

Nancy Lee, a former U.S. Treasury official who is now a fellow at the Center for Global Development, agreed that the $50 million in initial government funding is notably small, but she said she hoped that it could have a larger effect.

“Most important is to firmly embed empowering women across the programs of all of the agencies that are supposed to work together under this initiative,” Lee said. "If agencies actually have to look at how each project can boost benefits for women and girls and measure results carefully and consistently, that would truly transform U.S. development practice.”

February 6, 2019

Will David Malpass Run the World Bank or Ruin It? (Foreign Policy)

From the article:

The Trump administration continues chipping away at the multilateral institutions it derides as “globalist,” preparing to nominate as soon as Wednesday David Malpass, a World Bank critic, to become the next president of that very institution.

Malpass, currently the undersecretary for international affairs at the U.S. Treasury Department and a former chief economist at Bear Stearns investment bank, has faithfully echoed President Donald Trump’s denunciations of multilateralism run amok, taking aim at institutions such as the World Trade Organization and the International Criminal Court.

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“It’s the attitude people had 25 years ago, informed by a policy stance he had while working in the Reagan administration,” said Scott Morris, an Obama administration Treasury official who is now a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. “He still sees the institution through that lens.”

Between his criticism of the bank’s practices and culture and his drive at Treasury to reduce U.S. financial contributions to the World Bank, “it’s hard to spin him as a friendly leader for the institution,” Morris said.

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Others noted that, while China may not need the money made available by the World Bank, those loans can nudge Beijing in directions that are broadly beneficial. Many of the World Bank loans, noted Morris of the Center for Global Development, are directed at efforts to reduce carbon emissions in China, the world’s biggest polluter. “China doesn’t necessarily need the money, it’s more the incentives those loans create,” he said.

At the same time, the World Bank has worked with China on President Xi Jinping’s signature project, the $1 trillion or more Belt and Road infrastructure program, in order to boost financial transparency and improve the quality of the projects that Beijing is underwriting—an effort that Malpass has been critical of.

“Malpass will certainly affect the relationship with China—what role will his World Bank play?” Morris asked.

“He actually does want to shrink the institution and lend to fewer countries,” Morris said. “So where would they go for alternative sources of financing? China is at the top of the list.”

February 6, 2019

Why can't pregnant women be vaccinated during epidemics? (Devex)

From the article:

NEW DELHI — The Democratic Republic of the Congo is currently facing the most severe Ebola outbreak in its history, with over 400 deaths confirmed since August, according to the World Health Organization. Much hope is pinned on a new vaccine — not yet licensed, but described by WHO as “safe and protective” — which has so far been used to immunize more than 60,000 people deemed most at risk of infection.

But one key group is denied access: Since the vaccine has not been tested for use during pregnancy, it is not being offered to pregnant women.

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Carleigh Krubiner, a policy fellow at the Center for Global Development and one of the lead authors of a recent report on maternal immunization, noted that pregnant and breastfeeding women are often at greater risk of exposure to the virus, because of caregiving responsibilities and proximity with children. “There's significant fear that's been documented among women [in DRC] who are unable to receive the vaccine and know they're at disproportionate risk of exposure just given some of the social roles,” she told Devex.

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Even as recently as the West Africa Ebola outbreak of 2014-2016, opportunities to “gather more robust data on pregnancy,” which could have helped to protect pregnant women the next time around, were missed, Krubiner said.

“There were recommendations to include pregnant women in those trials, especially given the risk-benefit calculus at the time, and ultimately for a whole host of reasons those recommendations were not taken up,” she said. “The cost of doing this research versus the cost of essentially denying women access to something that could be highly beneficial, there's really no comparison. We can't afford to leave this group unprotected.”

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“The development community [as funders and advocates] really does hold a lot of power to reshape the agenda in a way that is much more inclusive to address the needs of pregnant women and their babies,” Krubiner said.

While a small but rising number of vaccines are now being developed specifically for use during pregnancy, pregnant women are still rarely included in the development of vaccines targeted at more general populations. But with increasing attention being paid to vaccine research for epidemics — through initiatives such as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, a public-private coalition that aims to speed up vaccine research, and WHO’s blueprint for research and development — there is an opportunity for change, Krubiner said.

“There's a lot of effort right now to try and bring to market new and innovative vaccines so that the next time there is an outbreak of Lassa fever or Nipah virus or even Ebola we will have more tools at our disposal … All of those efforts that are happening now can be leveraged to proactively include pregnant women in the response,” she said.

“I think we have a moment right now to learn from our past failures and to really change, to shift the paradigm.”

February 6, 2019

Trump pick sets up fight over World Bank (The Hill)

From the article:

President Trump’s pick to lead the World Bank could spark an unprecedented battle over the future of the multinational lender.

Trump is set to nominate Treasury Under Secretary David Malpass — a fierce critic of the World Bank — to serve as its next president, spurring concern within the development finance world.

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“There is no case for Malpass on merit. The question now is whether other nations represented on the World Bank’s board of governors will let the Trump administration undermine a key global institution,” said Justin Sandefur, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development.

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Several leading development finance officials, including past candidates for the World Bank presidency, have already called on the board to oppose Malpass and break the tradition of American leaders.

Sandefur called Malpass “a Trump loyalist who has committed economic malpractice on a wide range of topics,” including in the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

February 6, 2019

Who is Trump's World Bank president pick David Malpass? (BBC)

From the article:

So who is David Malpass, and what opinions does he hold?

Mr Malpass, a Trump loyalist, was a senior economic adviser to the US president during his 2016 election campaign.

The 62-year-old has criticised the World Bank in the past, along with other institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, for being "intrusive" and "entrenched".

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Justin Sandefur, a senior fellow with the Center for Global Development, said the nomination of Mr Malpass showed that the Trump administration was trying to undermine a key global institution, and urged other countries to nominate alternative candidates.

"They have a choice. It's a simple majority vote, the US has no veto in this election and there are many better candidates," Mr Sandefur said.

February 6, 2019

Trump Nominates David Malpass to Head World Bank (The New York Times)

From the article:

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday nominated David Malpass, one of his top economic advisers and a Wall Street veteran, to be the next president of the World Bank.

Mr. Malpass, currently the under secretary for international affairs at the Treasury Department, is a longtime critic of the World Bank’s lending practices and its business model and has expressed concern about the power that such multilateral institutions exert.

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If approved by the bank’s board, Mr. Malpass could put additional pressure on China at a time when it is locked in a protracted battle with the United States over geopolitical and economic dominance. The Trump administration been urging the bank to reduce lending to China, which since 2016 has received more than $7.8 billion in loans, according to the Center for Global Development. In 2017 comments at the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Malpass argued that this should change.

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“As the U.S. candidate, David Malpass will have a lot of work to do to convince other shareholders that he is prepared to move beyond his past statements and track record when it comes to the World Bank’s agenda,” said Scott Morris, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and former Treasury deputy assistant secretary for development finance and debt. “That includes the bank’s critical role in climate finance and the need for constructive engagement with China.”

February 6, 2019

Trump Is Expected To Name Outspoken Critic To Head World Bank (NPR)

From the article:

President Trump is expected to nominate Treasury Department official David Malpass, a vocal critic of the World Bank, to head the international financial institution later today.

Malpass, 62, is a conservative with longstanding ties to Trump. He once worked as chief economist at investment bank Bear Stearns, which collapsed in 2008 in the midst of the financial crisis. He also served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

If approved by the countries that control the World Bank's governing board, which is considered likely, Malpass would replace Jim Yong Kim, who resigned in January before his term had ended.

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The naming of Malpass is already generating outrage among some political critics and members of the international development community.

"David Malpass is a Trump loyalist who has committed economic malpractice on a wide range of topics," said Justin Sandefur, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. "There is no case for Malpass on merit."

February 6, 2019

Spread of China’s State-Controlled Internet Model Raises Concerns (The Epoch Times)

From the article:

China’s censorship-enabled internet model is spreading beyond its borders, at a time when more and more people in the world are gaining access to the internet, according to a new report.

Michael Pisa, a policy fellow at the Washington-based think tank Center for Global Development (CGD) and former senior adviser to the U.S. undersecretary for international affairs in the Department of the Treasury, published a Feb. 5 report on worrying developments as the internet becomes more readily available to developing countries.

While the number of internet users around the world increased to more than 3 billion in 2015 from 1 billion in 2005, the report pointed out that “today, more than 65 percent of the roughly four billion people in the world without internet access live in countries with a per capita GDP of less than $3,895 a year.”

Facebook and Google, in particular, have made inroads in developing nations. Facebook now has 2.3 billion monthly active users who live in Africa and Asia, while Google operates domains in about 200 countries and territories, with an estimated global market share of up to 92 percent.

In addition, more than 2 billion devices worldwide are powered by Google’s Android operating system, according to the report.

But a more pressing concern is that those countries could be attracted to China’s restrictive internet model. “An increasing number of governments have shown an interest in adopting China’s authoritarian [internet] model, which uses digital tools to support surveillance and stifle dissent—and Chinese officials appear eager to share their expertise,” the report stated.

Chinese officials have taken active steps to spread its model overseas. The CGD report, citing a 2018 report by U.S.-based independent watchdog Freedom House, said that in 2018, “Beijing took steps to propagate its model abroad by conducting large-scale trainings of foreign officials [from at least 36 countries], providing technology to authoritarian governments, and demanding that international companies abide by its content regulations, even when operating outside of China.”

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The demand by governments such as India and Vietnam for “data localization,” a policy pioneered by China that requires international companies to store data in local servers, is also a concern, given that it will “raise the cost of doing cross-border business,” the CGD report stated. It also questioned the validity of a cybersecurity claim for having such policies.

February 5, 2019

Why U.S. Oil Sanctions on Venezuela Could Be Too Little, Too Late (World Politics Review)

From the article:

The scale of the humanitarian disaster in Venezuela is almost inconceivable. Despite the world’s largest proven oil reserves, the economy barely functions. People struggle just to survive. Store shelves are nearly empty of food, medicine and other necessities. The few goods available are out of reach for most people because of hyperinflation that the International Monetary Fund estimates reached a shocking 1 million percent in 2018. An estimated 3 million Venezuelans have already fled to neighboring countries, and more will likely join them.

Last fall, the Pharmaceutical Federation of Venezuela estimated that only around 20 percent of needed medicines were available; the Medical Federation reported that around one-third of Venezuela’s physicians had left the country. The death rate for children under the age of five is similar to that in war-torn Syria, and more than one in 10 young children suffer from acute malnutrition, which can have lifelong consequences in terms of stunted physical and mental development...

Click here to read more!

February 5, 2019

New index raises concerns about aid quality outside DFID (Devex)

From the article:

LONDON — Aid money spent outside the U.K. Department for International Development is failing to meet good standards on poverty focus, effectiveness, and transparency, a new report has found, as DFID’s share of the aid budget continues to fall.

Analysis by the ONE Campaign comparing aid spending across Whitehall departments from 2016-2017 found significant discrepancies in how the money is being spent. It also found that although British aid is officially untied, at least £457 million ($595.8 million) was spent through programs that require United Kingdom institutions to be part of any bid. 

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The new index is the latest in a string of similar initiatives which indicate that U.K. aid standards may be slipping. A report by the Center for Global Development in December suggested that the quality of U.K. aid fell sharply between 2012-2016, but did not disaggregate the data by government department. Last year’s Aid Transparency index also placed FCO among the least transparent donors globally, while DFID ranked near the top.

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