With rigorous economic research and practical policy solutions, we focus on the issues and institutions that are critical to global development. Explore our core themes and topics to learn more about our work.
In timely and incisive analysis, our experts parse the latest development news and devise practical solutions to new and emerging challenges. Our events convene the top thinkers and doers in global development.
CGD maintains an active program of research and analysis of the World Bank, the world’s largest development institution and a leading source of funds, ideas, and expertise for development. The Center’s work in this area offers new ideas and practical suggestions for making the World Bank more effective, accountable, and legitimate in a rapidly changing global economy. Recent work includes the High Level Panel on Future of Multilateral Development Banking: Exploring a New Policy Agenda, building on past work on the future of the World Bank. That work focused on priorities for incoming World Bank presidents, improvements to the leadership selection process, and work on the future of IDA, the Bank’s concessional lending arm.
The United States is pushing to re-elect the World Bank’s twelfth consecutive American president. Does he deserve another term? Both lending growth and project performance at the Bank appear weak by historical standards, but evaluating a bank with no profit motive is inherently difficult.
Over the last several years, the United States and other major donor countries have supported a historic initiative to write down the official debts of a group of heavily indebted poor countries, or HIPCs. Donor countries had two primary goals in supporting debt relief: to reduce countries' debt burdens to levels that would allow them to achieve sustainable growth; and to promote a new way of assisting poor countries focused on home-grown poverty alleviation and human development. While the current "enhanced HIPC" program of debt relief is more ambitious than any previous initiative, it will fall short of meeting these goals. We propose expanding the HIPC program to include all low-income countries and increasing the resources dedicated to debt relief. Because debt relief will still only be a first step, we also recommend reforms of the current "aid architecture" that will make debt more predictably sustainable, make aid more efficient, and help recipient countries graduate from aid dependence.
Recognizing the growing global premium on environmental sustainability in a climate-challenged world, we call on member governments of the World Bank to take the first step in that direction by renaming the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Sustainable Development (IBRSD)—and to reshape its mission accordingly, toward leadership on issues of the global commons or global public goods that are squarely in the development domain and require a global shareholder base to respond collectively. Shareholders should in turn look to the regional MDBs to take leadership in supporting the new imperative of sustainable development through country and regional operations across all sectors, but particularly in increasing investment in infrastructure that takes into account the logic of low-carbon and climateresilient economies in the developing world. In line with this approach to differentiated roles within an MDB system, the panel makes five recommendations to better realize the MDB system’s potential for meeting today’s development challenges.
Do we still need the World Bank, given how much the global financial sector has expanded since the institution was founded? The paper argues that there is a continuing role for the Bank and that it is complementary to private finance.
The tragedy of foreign aid is not that it didn't work; it was never really tried. A group of well-meaning national and international bureaucracies dispensed foreign aid under conditions in which bureaucracy does not work well. The hostile environment under which such aid agencies functioned induced them to organize a cartel that increased inefficiency and reduced effective supply of development services, frustrating the good intentions and dedication of development professionals. The cartel of good intentions allows rich country politicians to feel that they are doing all in their power to help the world's poor, supports rich nations' foreign policy goals, preserves a panoply of large national and international institutions, and provides resources to poor country politicians with which to buy political support; in short, foreign aid works for everyone except for those whom it was intended to help.