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CGD research explores how international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, multilateral development banks, and other international development agencies can become more responsive to the needs of developing countries. The Center’s work concerns itself with the future of these institutions, all of which are facing shifts in demand for their traditional services, the emergence of new institutions, and reform of their leadership selection processes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a significant toll on African economies. On the continent, countries continue to face significant financing needs to protect lives and livelihood and bolster prospects for a stronger and more resilient economic recovery. To help meet these needs, the international community must act promptly.
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.
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.