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Owen Barder was a Vice President at the Center for Global Development, Director for Europe and a senior fellow. He is a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics and a Specialist Adviser to the UK House of Commons International Development Committee. Barder was a British civil servant from 1988 to 2010, during which time he worked in No.10 Downing Street, as Private Secretary (Economic Affairs) to the Prime Minister; in the UK Treasury, including as Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and in the Department for International Development, where he was variously Director of International Finance and Global Development Effectiveness, Director of Communications and Information, and head of Africa Policy & Economics Department. As a young Treasury economist, Barder set up the first UK government website, to put details of the 1994 budget online.
Today we present a slightly unusual edition of the CGD Podcast. We are bringing you highlights of an excellent discussion held at CGD's offices in London which involved, among others, CGD’s Owen Barder. It was a special edition of the Radio 4 program The World Tonight, organized and broadcast by my former colleagues at BBC Radio. The discussion focused on the UK's aid budget.
What if taxpayers could decide for themselves how some of the UK’s aid budget is spent? Allocating funding would let taxpayers engage meaningfully with development issues, potentially reinforcing support for tackling poverty and deprivation overseas. Competition for funding would give international development organisations an incentive to offer an explicit value proposition. This could catalyse a race to the top in becoming transparent, measuring impact, and delivering value-for-money. AidChoice, as set out below, would be revenue neutral, would not lower the UK’s overall spending on foreign aid (or the amount scored as ODA), and might generate modest but meaningful savings, all while increasing public support for development spending and improving accountability.
Whatever you think about Brexit, it doesn’t make sense to secure Britain’s economic future by adding red tape. Theresa May’s government wants to tamp down net migration. That’s has opened space for some new self-defeating proposals.
The rainy season, known as kiremt, began in earnest today in Addis Ababa, host city for a huge UN conference on Financing for Development. The arrival of kiremt is good news for the farmers in Ethiopia’s highlands, but bad news for the thousands of delegates from government, business, and civil society sploshing in their Birkenstocks through the puddles between the hotels and the UN conference centre.
International aid works, but it could work much better. Reform efforts focused on better planning often ignore what constrains aid agencies and takes the bite out of their commitments. In this working paper, Owen Barder shows how forming a "collaborative market" around aid—one marked by transparency and collective regulation—would pave the way for more effective aid.
CGD’s Europe Beyond Aid initiative explores how the individual and collective policies affect the developing world and how they could be improved. Using the Commitment to Development Index (CDI), it combines the scores of the 21 European countries that feature in the Index and calculates a consolidated score.
The European Union is a unique and inspiring association. We are alarmed that a narrow majority of the British people might choose to destroy that by voting to leave the European Union, undermining our ability to secure our foreign, economic, and international development interests. This would be harmful for Britain and for the rest of the world.
Rory Stewart MP gave a wise speech about how Britain can play a role in global peace and stability. In my brief response to the Minister, I suggested twelve policies which are within our control which would help create conditions for stronger, more peaceful, more prosperous countries to thrive, and so reduce the risks of future conflict and instability. Here they are.
Like you, I know that there are many ways to make a difference in the world. I believe that improving the policies and practices of the rich, powerful, and influential is one of the most powerful and effective ways to support poor people in their efforts to improve their lives.
At the Center for Global Development our research feeds directly into practical policy proposals; we then work with thought leaders and decision makers to push these ideas into action. Our work is making a difference in the lives of small-holder farmers in Africa and unemployed workers in Haiti—and a CGD proposal for a new form of sanctions could help to end the violence in Syria, to name just three recent examples.