Ideas to Action:

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Graphic of an analytics dashboard. Adobe Stock.
November 14, 2019

Towards Real-Time Governance: Using Digital Feedback to Improve Service, Voice, and Accountability

Improving the quality, impact, and efficiency of public services is one of the most critical challenges of public policy. There are multiple ways of addressing these challenges, but a common theme is the need to put citizens at the center of governance and service delivery, through empowerment, transparency, accountability, and participation.

Alan Gelb , Neeraj Mittal and Anit Mukherjee
Image of sugar coming out of soda can
November 12, 2019

Taxing “Bads”: An Overview of Research Initiatives

This note outlines the organizations and research initiatives currently addressing taxation of tobacco, alcohol, and sugar-sweetened beverages—the “bads”—to help navigate the landscape of existing research and identify gaps and opportunities for further work.

The cover of the note
November 7, 2019

Gender Equality in US Think Tank Leadership: Data from Tax Records

Existing analysis of US think tanks suggests that women are underrepresented among senior staff, leadership, and board members. Chantal de Jonge Oudraat and Soraya Kamali-Nafar at Women In International Security examined 22 Washington, DC-based think tanks working on foreign policy and national and international security, and they found that 68 percent of the heads of the think tanks were men, along with 73 percent of the experts and 78 percent of those on governing boards. In 2018, a random sampling of 10 leading US think tanks working on development by Charles Kenny and Tanvi Jaluka suggested that women made up 30 percent of high-paid employees and 10 percent of highest-paid employees, and that higher-paid women earned only 75 percent that of higher-paid men. 

An image showing a trading ship at sea
November 1, 2019

A Smoother Trade Transition for Graduating LDCs

For nearly 50 years, the world’s “least developed countries” have received extra financial support and preferential trade treatment to help them grow and develop. In the first three decades after the United Nations (UN) created the LDC category in 1971, only one country—diamond-rich Botswana—outgrew that status.

Robots in a factory. Adobe Stock
October 22, 2019

Automation and AI: Implications for African Development Prospects?

Now that computers are capable of taking the jobs that require brain as well as brawn, it may appear there is little left for humans to do. But there are reasons to doubt the pessimism. This note reviews some of the literature around AI, automation, jobs, and development prospects with a focus on potential implications for developing countries and in particular for Africa.

Image of the Front Cover of the What Works Paper
October 4, 2019

When Does “What Works” Work? And What Does that Mean for UK Aid R&D Spend?

The UK’s Secretary of State for International Development oversees an aid-financed R&D budget that is larger than that of the next 15 biggest donors combined. At the moment, a considerable proportion of that UK R&D spend goes towards solving global technological challenges related to neglected tropical diseases including malaria, and a considerable proportion again towards local evaluation of aid-financed development interventions. Much of the rest is somewhat opaquely distributed to British universities for research supposedly related to development.

September 13, 2019

Building on Digital ID for Inclusive Services: Lessons from India

India has emerged as a leader in building on its biometric digital ID to reform service and program delivery. It moved quickly to consolidate the rollout of Aadhaar, and then to embed the unique Aadhaar number into program databases. A range of applications, including digital signature and payments, was then constructed on top of the Aadhaar foundation (the India Stack). Together with partners, the Center for Global Development is analyzing the effects of Aadhaar-based reforms. The three programs we discuss below highlight achievements as well as challenges that need to be overcome for greater efficiency and inclusion.

Stock photo of test tubes and a pipette
August 8, 2019

Promoting Investment in Research for Development Outcomes: A Research Ventures Fund at the World Bank

This note proposes a new Research Ventures Fund (RVF) at the World Bank to better prioritize R&D investments in support of development progress. The RVF would employ financing mechanisms that are consistent with research needs: significant scale and scope, patience, and tolerance for failure. Existing development-oriented research consortia like CGIAR would provide a promising start for RVF funding allocations. Donors to the IDA-19 replenishment should take the first step in securing funding for the new fund in 2019.

August 7, 2019

Five Takeaways on the Future of Humanitarian Reform

The world’s humanitarian aid architecture is growing outdated. Relief programs are most effective when they are integrated, locally owned, and demand driven. But humanitarian action in the 21st century remains constrained by a 20th-century aid model.

June 24, 2019

New Gavi Modalities for a Changing World

In this note, we summarize the changing context and its relevance for Gavi, exploring the specific issues relevant to transitioning countries, never-eligible MICs, and countries dealing with complex emergencies or large-scale protracted displacement. We then offer four recommendations to increase Gavi’s relevance and effectiveness in a changing world.

June 24, 2019

Gavi’s Approach to Health Systems Strengthening: Reforms for Enhanced Effectiveness and Relevance in the 2021–2025 Strategy

In this note, we highlight the results of Gavi HSS evaluations, how Gavi has responded to identified challenges and limitations in the HSS proposal and implementation process, and what options are available to enhance the effectiveness of HSS support for Gavi’s core mandate. We also discuss the importance of 4G (Gavi, the Global Fund, the Global Financing Facility, and the World Bank Group) collaboration.

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