Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Publications

 

Cover of the report The Principles on Commercial Transparency in Public Contracts
March 7, 2019

The Principles on Commercial Transparency in Public Contracts

Every year, governments worldwide sign contracts worth trillions of dollars. They buy textbooks and fighter planes, hire consultants, commission firms to run railways and build bridges, take out loans and give guarantees, grant mining concessions, and issue licenses to use the public airwaves. Each time, legal documents specify who will pay how much to whom for what.

The Working Group on Commercial Transparency in Public Contracts
Pallets of DFID aid being unloaded. Photo from DFID / Flickr
March 1, 2019

A Short-Sighted Vision for Global Britain

There has been a resurgence in calls to reconsider the cross-party consensus in the UK on foreign aid and development. The main political parties are all committed to spending 0.7 percent of gross national income on aid, to using the internationally agreed definition of aid, and to maintaining a separate government department to administer the majority of this aid, led by a Cabinet Minister. In their recent report, Global Britain: A Twenty-first Century Vision, Bob Seely MP and James Rogers lay challenge to these long-established pillars of UK development policy. In this note, we consider some of the questions they raise and suggest alternative answers.

Cover of Policy Paper 137
February 5, 2019

The Two Hundred Billion Dollar Question: How to Get the Biggest Impact from the 2019 Replenishments

In 2019/2020 donor governments are anticipated to pledge up to $170 billion to various multilateral organisations as part of their replenishment cycles. This unusual bunching of replenishments of some of the largest organisations in 2019 provides an opportunity to think more coherently about multilateral funding and to address key systemic problems, such as overlapping mandates and under-funding of some parts of the system.

September 5, 2017

Commitment to Development Index 2017

The Commitment to Development Index ranks 27 of the world's richest countries on policies that affect more than five billion people living in poorer nations. Because development is about more than foreign aid, the Index covers seven distinct policy areas: Aid, Finance, Technology, Environment, Trade, Security, and Migration.

Payouts for Perils Brief Cover
April 19, 2017

Payouts for Perils: How Insurance Can Radically Improve Emergency Aid

Millions of people face hazards like cyclones and drought every day. International aid to deal with disasters after they strike is generous, but it is unpredictable and fragmented, and it often fails to arrive when it would do the most good. We must stop treating disasters like surprises. Matching finance to planning today will save lives, money, and time tomorrow.

Theodore Talbot , Stefan Dercon and Owen Barder
January 5, 2017

Commitment to Development Index 2016

The Commitment to Development Index ranks 27 of the richest countries on their dedication to policies that benefit poorer nations. Finland takes first in 2016. The UK moves down three places to 9th while the United States moves up one to 20th. Switzerland takes last of 27.

November 21, 2016

AidChoice: Give the People who Pay for Aid a Voice in Spending It

What if taxpayers could decide for themselves how some of the UK’s aid budget is spent? Allocating funding would let taxpayers engage meaningfully with development issues, potentially reinforcing support for tackling poverty and deprivation overseas. Competition for funding would give international development organisations an incentive to offer an explicit value proposition. This could catalyse a race to the top in becoming transparent, measuring impact, and delivering value-for-money. AidChoice, as set out below, would be revenue neutral, would not lower the UK’s overall spending on foreign aid (or the amount scored as ODA), and might generate modest but meaningful savings, all while increasing public support for development spending and improving accountability.

Payouts for Perils: Why Disaster Aid Is Broken, and How Catastrophe Insurance Can Help to Fix It
July 14, 2016

Payouts for Perils: Why Disaster Aid is Broken, and How Catastrophe Insurance Can Help to Fix It

Disaster aid is often too little, too late. Pressure on aid budgets is prompting donors to find ways to handle more crises with less funding. But the current model of discretionary, ex-post disaster aid is increasingly insufficient for these growing needs, and does little to create incentives for governments in affected countries and donors to invest in risk reduction and resilience. This framing paper sets out how the global community can do better.

June 21, 2016

United Europe: A Unique and Inspiring Enterprise

The European Union is a unique and inspiring association. We are alarmed that a narrow majority of the British people might choose to destroy that by voting to leave the European Union, undermining our ability to secure our foreign, economic, and international development interests. This would be harmful for Britain and for the rest of the world.

Brian Barder and Owen Barder
December 4, 2015

Commitment to Development Index 2015

The Commitment to Development Index ranks 27 of the richest countries on their dedication to policies that benefit poorer nations. Denmark takes first in 2015. The UK is tied for sixth while the United States is 21st. Japan takes last of 27.

cash-transfers-cover
September 14, 2015

Doing Cash Differently: How Cash Transfers Can Transform Humanitarian Aid

The Report of the High Level Panel on Humanitarian Cash Transfers shows why giving aid directly in the form of cash is often a highly effective way to reduce suffering and to make limited humanitarian aid budgets go further. We urge the humanitarian community to give more aid as cash, and to make cash central to future emergency response planning.

The High Level Panel on Humanitarian Cash Transfers
July 20, 2015

Promoting the Development Power of Economic Transparency

Weak institutions are both a cause and a consequence of underdevelopment. Improving governance is widely regarded as critical to accelerating economic opportunities, democracy, and security. This is especially important for fragile states and countries emerging from conflict. Despite this, the United States and other donor governments have few financial tools that are demonstrably effective at stimulating and delivering improved governance.

July 1, 2015

Strengthening the Addis Accord

There are 20 pages covering the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. And while they are inevitably bubble-wrapped in diplo-speak and hat-tipping, there is a solid package of proposals nestled within. They cover domestic public finance, private finance, international public finance, trade, debt, technology, data and systemic issues. Amongst many other things, the Agenda calls for more tax and better tax (less regressive, more focused on pollution and tobacco). And it is long and specific on base erosion, tax evasion and competition and tax cooperation. It calls for financial inclusion and cheaper remittances. The draft discusses blended finance and a larger role for market-based instruments to support infrastructure rollout, as well as a new measure of “Total Official Support for Sustainable Development.” It calls for Multilateral Development Bank reform including new graduation criteria and scaling up. And it suggests a global compact to guarantee a universal package of basic social services and a second compact covering infrastructure. Finally, the draft has a good section on technology including the need for public finance and flexibility on intellectual property rights.

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