Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Tag: Sustainable Development Goals



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.

International Investment Agreements: Not Fit for the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda

In a world with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the international investment policy system stands as an obsolete regime in urgent need of revision and reform. This is the main conclusion of the analysis that the think tank CIECODE conducted for CGD’s 2017 Commitment to Development Index (CDI). The analysis measures the amount of “sustainable development content” included in International Investment Agreements (IIAs) signed between developing and developed countries. Here, we look at best practices, main issues and which countries could do better.

Anita Käppeli, Javier Perez and Maria Vega

Fifteen Years Isn’t That Long: The SDGs and Holistic Development

Do the fifteen year targets of the SDGs stand in the way of their vision of integration and sustainability? If you wanted to achieve long term development progress, you’d probably focus on technology change, learning and innovation in policies, and improving institutional functioning. If you wanted to improve outcomes in fifteen years, you’d probably focus on throwing money at technical solutions. The problems with the second approach include that we don’t have the money, and the technical solutions won’t necessarily work best over the long term.


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.


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.


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.

Solving the Private Sector Aid Imbroglio

In 2014, Mark Lowcock, then head of the UK’s Department for International Development, pulled off an unexpected coup: securing an agreement between donor governments on new rules for counting official loans as aid. Some neat diplomatic footwork is needed again now, because negotiations over extending this agreement to donors’ investments in the private sector are threatening to fall apart. Among the consequences could be that the UK walks away from using internationally agreed standards for measuring aid and starts to create its own statistics. Other countries may follow.    


Disagreement over how investments in the private sector are counting to aid is threatening to overwhelm the OECD Development Assistance Committee. There are no perfect solutions here; governments must find the least-bad compromise. We point the way forward.

A Global Burden of Disease Data Plus Model to Inform Domestic Decision-Making: In Search of Super-local Data

Global Burden of Disease (GBD) country rankings can strengthen the case of advocates at global and national levels for prioritising investment towards the major drivers of mortality and morbidity. But as discussed in our earlier blog post, when it comes to informing specific investment cases within these broader priorities, GBD data alone are not enough to allow consideration of trade-offs and of opportunity costs of alternative investment choices addressing the same problem. The next step in using data to trigger action ought to be the generation, in conjunction with domestic stakeholders, of what we call below “super-local data.”