Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity


Current search



The International Development Finance Club and the Sustainable Development Goals
December 17, 2018

The International Development Finance Club and the Sustainable Development Goals

The SDGs face a key dilemma. Although major multilateral institutions like the World Bank and the other core MDBs have played a leadership role in shaping the SDG financing framework, there is a significant misalignment between the structure of these institutions and SDG financing needs. The International Development Finance Club is uniquely positioned to play a leadership role on the SDGs.

Clock with SDGs in background
June 21, 2018

Domestic Resource Mobilization in Low-Income Countries: Proposal for a Surge in Multilateral Support

Rising debt vulnerability in low-income countries (LICs) is emerging as a front-burner issue. Analysts at the IMF and elsewhere are tracking increases in public debt ratios that had fallen after the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative. Forty percent of LICs are either in, or at high risk of, debt distress. Many factors have contributed to rising debt-to-GDP ratios: falling commodity prices, deteriorating fiscal balances, conflict, and corruption, among others. The larger fiscal deficits are fully or partially accounted for by increased public investment in about half of LICs. Which brings us to the challenge of financing the SDGs.

Cover of Working Paper 484
May 23, 2018

Speeding Sustainable Development: Integrating Economic, Social, and Environmental Development - Working Paper 484

This paper discusses the role for policy integration to speed progress towards delivering the SDGs. This paper suggests a mechanism for prioritizing coordination and the use of coordination tools including regulation, safeguards, taxes, and subsidies. It also suggests re-orienting ministerial responsibilities where possible from input control to achievement of outcomes as well as tools to promote innovation by subnational governments and the private sector.

Cover of Working Paper 472
December 13, 2017

Meeting the Sustainable Development Goal Zero Targets: What Could We Do? - Working Paper 472

The Sustainable Development Goals are an ambitious set of targets for global development progress by 2030 that were agreed by the United Nations in 2015. A review of the literature on meeting "zero targets" suggests very high costs compared to available resources, but also that in many cases there remains a considerable gap between financing known technical solutions and achieving the outcomes called for in the SDGs. In some cases, we (even) lack the technical solutions required to achieve the zero targets, suggesting the need for research and development of new approaches.

November 17, 2017

Billions to Trillions? Issues on the Role of Development Banks in Mobilizing Private Finance

It is time to take a fresh look at the PSWs and to ask some basic questions about their role and instruments. The aim of this essay is to raise issues that need to be addressed as we think about how PSWs should evolve and adapt to meet the formidable challenges ahead. These questions and the answers gained through careful research can help chart the right course and set the right expectations for MDB PSWs, DFIs, and impact investors generally.

Cover of Working Paper 469
October 26, 2017

Estimating the SDGs' Demand for Innovation - Working Paper 469

How much innovation will be needed to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals? Our results suggest that (i) best performers are considerably outperforming the average performance at a given income level, suggesting considerable progress could be achieved through policy change but that (ii) the targets set in the SDGs are unlikely to be met by 2030 without very rapid, ubiquitous technological progress alongside economic growth.

February 22, 2016

Using Identification for Development: Some Guiding Principles

There is growing recognition of the importance of identification for sustainable development. Its role is recognized formally in target 16.9 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which calls for providing “legal identity for all, including through birth registration” by 2030. Identification is also an enabler of many other development targets, from social protection (delivering support) to financial inclusion (opening bank or mobile accounts and establishing a credit record) to women's empowerment.Having a recognized identity is crucial for achieving several development outcomes.

December 6, 2015

Global Public Goods That Matter for Development: A Path for US Leadership

The United States has been at the forefront of providing several development-related global public goods, including peace and security via its contributions to international peacekeeping, the monitoring of international sea trade routes, its engagement in forums such as the Financial Action Task Force to stem flows of funding to terrorist organizations, and more. Yet it has not fully capitalized on its comparative advantage in research and development at home that matters especially for the world’s poor, or on its opportunities for globally transformative investments abroad in such areas as clean power and disease surveillance. We propose two areas where the United States should lead on providing even more transformative global public goods.

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.

The Role of Identification in the Post-2015 Development Agenda
July 1, 2015

The Role of Identification in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

The post-2015 development agenda is being shaped as we speak. The role of identification and its importance to development outcomes places it within the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda — specifically as one of the proposed SDG targets (#16.9), but also as a key enabler of the efficacy of many other SDG targets. Although there is no one model for providing legal identity, this SDG would urge states to ensure that all have free or low-cost access to widely accepted, robust identity credentials.

Mariana Dahan and Alan Gelb
Finding Cash for Infrastructure in Addis: Blending, Lending, and Guarantees in Finance for Development
June 19, 2015

Finding Cash for Infrastructure in Addis: Blending, Lending and Guarantees in Finance for Development

The total scale of incremental investment requirements in infrastructure in developing countries has been estimated at around USD 1 trillion a year, with a range of related studies suggesting numbers between $815 billion to $1.3 trillion. While all such numbers are open to considerable debate, and were not designed to measure the cost of delivering the specific SDG infrastructure targets, they suggest the likely scale of the financing challenge for an SDG agenda which includes universal coverage to adequate housing, water, sanitation, modern energy and communications technologies. 

May 27, 2015

MDGs to SDGs: Have We Lost the Plot?

In September this year, world leaders will meet in New York at the United Nations General Assembly. Top of the agenda will be the passage of a resolution laying out global development goals for the fifteen years to 2030, covering progress in areas from poverty reduction to forestry preservation. They will follow on from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which have become a common yardstick of global progress over the past decade and a half.