Can MDBs Help End Poverty? – Podcast with Montek Ahluwalia

October 06, 2015

The very first Global Goal on the new UN development agenda, formally adopted earlier this month, is to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere.” On this week’s CGD podcast, economist Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who also serves as Co-Chair of CGD’s new High Level Panel on the Future of Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), shares his experiences of and hopes for combating poverty in India.

Ahluwalia sees liberalizing India’s economy as the key to economic growth. But, he said, it’s a slow process. “Opposition to the government is an integral part of the democratic process... and that does mean that the rate of change slows down.” But in the end, “there’s more consensus, there’s more public participation in decisions making,” he said. “We want an inclusive growth process.”

Despite the slow pace, Ahluwalia is confidant that significant progress has been made – and will continue to be made. From 2004 to 2011, “the rate of decline of poverty has been the fastest of any previous period,” he told me. “We need to continue that for another 10-20 years.” But does that mean we should just keep doing what we’re doing? Not quite, said Ahluwalia. “It’s perfectly possible to have rising income... but you may still not have access to clean drinking water, you may not have access to good education.” These are the types of challenges that Goal 1 and the other Global Goals should help address.

In this new environment, where do Multilateral Development Banks come in? Ahluwalia hopes the High Level Panel can help answer that question: “Given where the world is now and given what the MDBs have been doing, and given how much emerging markets have changed and what their new needs are, is there a case for a new mandate for the MDB?” Ahluwalia thinks so – but what should that mandate look like? “How to restructure that mandate is a controversial issue,” he said. “It’s not just a question of what my views are.”

Watch the podcast below.


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.