High Level Panel on Future of Multilateral Development Banking: Exploring a New Policy Agenda

September 29, 2015

The Center for Global Development convened a high level panel on the future of multilateral development banking in 2015. The geographically diverse group includes leading voices from the private sector and academia, as well as those with distinguished careers in the public sector. By bringing together a group that broadly reflects the diversity of the MDBs’ shareholder countries, we expect to provide useful guidance to the policy community at a time of considerable change for the MDBs. The panel's work has culminated in a report to the shareholders of the MDB system with five key recommendations.

Find CGD’s previous work on the future of the World Bank here.

The multilateral development banking model, first introduced 70 years ago at Bretton Woods, has proven to be remarkably durable. The innovation at the time, embodied in the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), was to capitalize a multilateral institution with public funds from shareholder governments, so that the “bank” could leverage those funds through private borrowing and lend the proceeds to member countries for “development” purposes.

The basic model is still with us today in the IBRD and has been replicated elsewhere, reflected in the rise of regionally based multilateral development banks (MDBs). Not only has multilateral development banking lasted more than seven decades, it seems to be enjoying a renaissance. The traditional multilateral development banks have all seen shareholder-led expansions of their capital within the past five years, other regional development banks have grown significantly (from the CAF in Latin America to the Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank to the EU’s massive European Investment Bank), and perhaps most significant, a new generation of institutions has emerged, largely spearheaded by the Chinese government, along with other large emerging-market governments.

How can the international community best capitalize on the resurgent MDBs? What are the core missions that should guide their activities? How big should they be, and how should they deploy their resources? What “rules of the road” should they follow when it comes to environmental standards and procurement rules? How are they best governed to ensure their legitimacy and effectiveness?

The high level panel report addresses these fundamental questions as part of an effort to provide a new policy blueprint for multilateral development banks, both new and old. Starting with the basic elements of financing and governance first defined seventy years ago, the panel's report identifies what is essential, what is adaptable, and what no longer serves a useful purpose in MDBs.


Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Distinguished Visiting Professor Stern School of Business, New York University

Lawrence H. Summers, Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus, Harvard University

Andrés Velasco, Professor of Professional Practice in International Development, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University


Caroline Anstey, Global Head UBS and Society, UBS

Afsaneh M. Beschloss, Founder, President and CEO, The Rock Creek Group

Chris Elias, President, Global Development Program, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Arminio Fraga, Founding Partner, Gavea Investimentos

Enrique Iglesias, Former President, Inter-American Development Bank

Takatoshi Ito, Professor of International and Public Affairs, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University

Donald Kaberuka, Hauser Leader-in-Residence, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Caio Koch-Weser, Vice Chairman, Deutsche Bank Group

Justin Yifu Lin, Professor and Honorary Dean, National School of Development, Peking University

Ray Offenheiser, President, Oxfam America

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI)

Guillermo Ortiz Martínez, Chairman of the Advisory Board, Grupo Financiero Banorte

Maria Ramos, CEO, Barclays Africa Group Limited

Dani Rodrik, Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Andrew Sheng, Distinguished Fellow, Fung Global Institute

Ngaire Woods, Inaugural Dean, Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University