Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Working Groups

The Shared Border, Shared Future working group explored ways in which the US and Mexican governments could achieve this bilateral cooperation objective with an agreement that addresses fee systems, visa portability, incentives for worker training, return, and integration, and more. The resulting report and model ‘term sheet’ provide an overview of what a bilateral agreement, regulating temporary and employment-based migration, could look like.
Related Experts: Michael Clemens
Humanitarian and emergency assistance is overstretched and underfunded. Many people living in countries with weak or cash-strapped government services live with the daily risk of disaster. This working group is examining how vulnerable countries and frontline humanitarian agencies can make use of insurance and index-linked securities to provide funding to tackle natural disasters much more effectively. It brings together voices and perspectives from the public, private and academic sector to help develop a program on parametric insurance with a focus on fixing humanitarian and emergency financing.
Related Experts: , Stefan Dercon, Sufian Ahmed Beker,
The high level panel will seek to address these fundamental questions as part of an effort to provide a new policy blue print for multilateral development banks, both new and old. Starting with the basic elements of financing and governance first defined 70 years ago, the project will identify what is essential, what is adaptable, and what no longer serves a useful purpose in MDBs.
Related Experts: Nancy Birdsall, Scott Morris
Paying for global health programs on the basis of their outcomes has the potential to focus various actors on a single goal and make those investments more efficient and impactful. Yet in the face of institutional inertia, risk aversion, and operational challenges, few such projects have made the jump from theory to real-world implementation.
The Energy Access Targets Working Group will assess the current common definition of “modern energy access” and propose possible alternative targets. With at least a billion people worldwide living without electricity, and many millions more held back by blackouts and high costs, improving energy access is increasingly a top priority for governments, business leaders, and citizens across the developing world. With Power Africa, SE4All, and the inclusion of a universal energy access target in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, the international community is responding to these growing demands. It is thus imperative that modern energy targets and indicators are set in a meaningful and practical way.
Related Experts: , , Scott Morris, Todd Moss,
The Unintended Consequences of Rich Countries’ Anti-Money Laundering Policies on Poor Countries Working Group examined how rich countries might rebalance their policies to continue to protect against money laundering and terrorism financing without hindering the ability of people from poor countries to conduct business and transfer money across borders. In 2014 migrants sent over $400 billion of remittances home through formal systems and at least an additional $130 billion through informal channels. Businesses in poor countries also engage in cross-border transactions whether it be to export goods or import key inputs. But banks in rich countries, under pressure from anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism enforcement efforts, are increasingly “de-banking” money transfer organizations, thereby raising costs or removing services for users, some of whom then turn to informal channels. This shift may have detrimental effects on poor people as well as on the security situation.
Related Experts: Alan Gelb, , , , , , Vijaya Ramachandran
Increased financial inclusion—greater access by the poor to the use of payments, deposits, credits, insurance and risk-management services—can improve the opportunities and welfare of people living in poverty. 
Related Experts: Alan Gelb, , Liliana Rojas-Suarez
In many large federal or decentralized countries, the majority of public spending on health is executed by state and district governments (see graph below). Improving health in these countries—and globally—depends on improving the sufficiency, efficiency, and effectiveness of health spending at the subnational level. The Intergovernmental Fiscal Transfers for Health Working Group, a partnership of CGD and the Accountability Initiative in India, is tasked with identifying practices that improve health and increase the efficiency of subnational allocations.
Transparency in government contracting has gained increasing international support over the past years. Some countries, including the Slovak Republic, Colombia and the United Kingdom, have begun publishing online the complete text of government contracts. Publishing government contracts can bring many benefits: companies, especially new bidders, have a clearer idea of the goods and services they will bid to provide; governments benefit from increased competition among contractors and product quality; and civil society would have the opportunity to keep track on the value for the money invested and the service delivery.
Related Experts: Charles Kenny,


The group developed practical recommendations to increase the quality and quantity of impact evaluations, with a focus on health and education. The final report, When Will We Ever Learn? Improving Lives through Impact Evaluation recommended the creation of an independent entity to coordinate and support high-quality impact evaluations. This led to the creation of the International Initiative on Impact Evaluation (3IE).
In advance of the 15th replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA), the IDA 15 Working Group report - The World Bank’s Work in the Poorest Countries: Five Recommendations for a New IDA - proposed five  
The working group investigated the effects of IMF-supported programs on the health sector, with an emphasis on poor countries. The group’s final report offered recommendations for the IMF to ensure that national spending on health care is not constrained by IMF programs.  
The group developed recommendations about how to generate and report timely, accurate information about spending on health services and public health programs, within countries and by donor. The group’s final report is called Following the Money: Toward Better Tracking of Global Health Resources.
Poor people in developing countries often receive health care from private providers yet donors and developing-country policymakers often overlook the sector, missing opportunities to improve care. The group final report Partnership with the Private Sector in Health, recommends creating an advisory facility to provide technical support to developing-country policymakers who want to engage the private sector to improve health outcomes.  
A very large proportion of households and firms in developing countries lack access to financial services. To help address this problem, CGD senior fellow Liliana Rojas-Suarez convened, together with Stijn Claessens and Patrick Honohan, a task force of leading experts to identify 10 policy principles for expanding access to financial services.
Some performance incentives aim to improve provider behavior, promoting delivery of more and better services; others focus on household or patient behavior, to increase health service utilization or affect health-related lifestyle choices. How well do they work?
CGD’s Commission on International Migration Data for Development Research identified steps to improve data collection so that researchers and policymakers have the numbers they need to assess the impact of migration. CGD continues to push for implementation.
As the founding executive director of UNAIDS prepared to step down at the end of 2008, CGD and the Economic Governance Programme of Oxford University convened an expert working group to develop recommendations for the incoming leadership of UNAIDS, the Programme Coordinating Board, and other stakeholders.
Related Experts: Mead Over, , Ruth Levine
Many creditors will lend to a government without regard to the government's legitimacy, allowing illegitimate governments to saddle the country with debt and burdening the successor governments with repayment. Ex ante loan sanctions would put creditors on notice that any future loans to a regime would be considered the responsibility of that regime and would not be considered transferable to successor governments.