MDBs for a Global Future
Broader mandates, better governance, and modern business models at the MDBs to address global challenges.
About the project
The COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis have instilled a fresh sense of collective urgency around the importance of protecting and investing in global public goods. CGD is conducting rigorous research and proposing practical solutions to drive broader mandates, better governance, and modern business models at the MDBs to address global challenges.

The COVID-19 global pandemic and the climate crisis already upon us are tangible manifestations of threats that until recently seemed theoretical. They have instilled a fresh sense of collective urgency around the importance of protecting and investing in global public goods (GPGs). But delivering on a GPG agenda is complicated by fissures and rivalries among major global players, tensions between the short-term “national interest” and the long-term “global interest,” and the general public’s growing skepticism about multilateralism itself.

Despite these challenges, this is not the time to invent a whole raft of new institutions. There simply isn’t enough time or the political will to dismantle the current system and start from scratch with new institutions. Instead, we need to repurpose, renew, and better deploy the international development machinery that we already have, and which has served us well over the past few decades. Multilateral development banks (MDBs) — by virtue of their size, reach and scope — are the anchor of this framework. They played a major role in helping countries reduce poverty, increase living standards, and improve health and education. Those tasks are still vitally important but to remain relevant, MDBs must have new missions and mandates, modernized governance, and reformed business and financial models to tackle the challenges of our new age.

The last century’s MDB was squarely focused on a country model that allocated resources based on national priorities. The MDB for our new age will need to be truly global. Its focus must be on helping countries work collectively on solutions to existential cross-border challenges that will determine not only the prosperity of future generations, but the habitability of the planet. This does not mean jettisoning poverty reduction or equitable growth; these issues must now be dealt with alongside global public goods and with a truly global lens. And the balance between programs targeted at global challenges and the traditional business of supporting broad based country development will need to vary between those that rely mainly on official concessional finance and those for whom official finance is one element in a broader package of international financial engagement.

Over the next year, the Center for Global Development will be conducting rigorous research and proposing practical solutions to drive broader mandates, better governance, and modern business models at the multilateral development banks.

 

Some of the GPG agenda can be accommodated within the MDB’s existing operating model, with tweaks around the margin.  For instance, supporting high-emitting coal-reliant emerging markets plan and finance their energy transitions (along the lines of the recently announced South Africa coal deal) can work in the existing MDB business model, but even this will require better MDB coordination, more effective mobilization of private sector resources, bigger volumes of financing, and, in some cases more concessional finance. It will also mean developing a series of incentives that encourage countries to use MDB resources for GPG programs.

 

A more far-reaching GPG agenda will demand some overhauls of the MDB model itself. For example, preserving major forest basins will require a big increase in global grants and an embrace of regional programming. So will meaningful action around oceans and biodiversity. Better pandemic preparedness will mean investing in a globally-networked health surveillance system that will require working directly with non-sovereign entities. Investing in major scientific breakthroughs means that the MDBs need direct funding relationships with research organizations.

 

To modernize the MDBs and to fulfill a global public goods agenda also requires a modernized MDB business model that can efficiently mobilize financing at scale and deploy a full suite of instruments from grants to guarantees across the entire range of countries it works with.

 

Here are some of the questions we will explore over the next year:

 

Broader Mandates

 

  • What GPGs should the MDB system focus on and how can they best do it?
  • How should the GPG focus vary between middle-income countries and low income country clients?
  • How can the World Bank be a climate AND development bank?
  • How can the MDBs collectively prepare for the next pandemic?
  • How can the MDBs support an energy transformation in coal-reliant emerging markets?
  • Should the GPG mission be the same across all MDBs or instead complement each other?

 

Better Governance

 

  • How can the MBDs address global challenges alongside a country based operating model? 
  • Does a GPG mandate require a different MDB governance model?
  • How can MDBs mobilize private climate finance at scale?
  • How can MDBs incentivize countries to borrow GPGs?

 

Modern Business Models

 

  • What would a green GPG capital increase look like?
  • Can the International Development Association’s equity be used for climate or GPGs?
  • Can special drawing rights help expand the climate lending pot?
  • How much grant financing is needed and how can MDBs grow the pot?

 

As the clock runs out on addressing the climate crisis and new threats loom, CGD experts – and colleagues from other organizations – will collectively tackle these topics.

 

Watch this space: What other think tanks are doing

 

Blogs

  • A Bigger Mission Must Mean More Financial Ambition at the World Bank
    The longer the World Bank’s biggest shareholders stay mum on the overall package of support, the higher the likelihood that we get...
  • Evolving the World Bank’s Twin Goals
    The World Bank management’s Evolution Roadmap suggests the institution is reconsidering its ‘twin goals’ mission statement of erad...
  • Centering Borrowing Country Perspectives in MDB Reform
    An effective transformation of the MDB system can’t happen from Washington alone—what emerging markets and low-income countries al...
  • A Bank for the World?
    At a time when governments seem able to agree on very little, the consensus around the Bank’s need to scale up its engagement on c...
  • How Could Country Platforms Facilitate the Delivery of Global Public Goods?
    Ongoing and looming global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change have brought renewed attention to the delivery ...
  • Rethinking the Bank Model for More Climate Financing
    The fact is $100 billion a year is woefully insufficient to cover the cost of climate change adaptation, let alone financing clean...
  • What Multilateral Development Banks Can Do To Mobilize Private Capital
    Despite criticism of the “Billions to Trillions” action plan, we know that catalyzing much larger volumes of private finance for i...
  • Don’t Let Arcane Climate Accounting Shortchange Poor Countries on Adaptation
    At a glance, it would seem that if you want to tackle climate finance, you ought to look to institutions with “climate” in the nam...
  • A Bank for the World
    On October 8, CGD held an event with the governments of Germany & Norway that asked: how can the World Bank better respond to ...
  • Four Pandemic Asks for IDA20 Replenishment at the World Bank
    The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), the largest single source of concessional financing for development ...
  • Half a Trillion in Dry Powder?
    To help developing countries meet their financing needs, the multilateral development bank (MDB) system needs to get much bigger. ...
  • MDBs Could Do More to Build Markets Just By Releasing More Data
    You may have missed a recent dry-sounding but groundbreaking report, Default Statistics: Private and Sub-Sovereign Lending 2001-20...
  • Expanding Vaccine Access and Humanitarian Financing Should Be Urgent Objectives for the World Bank and IMF
    Shortly before the Spring Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, we set out how they could be a turning p...
  • Forging an MDB System: The Missing Piece in the Governance Architecture
    Few would argue that collaboration and collective efforts across the multilateral development banks (MDBs) are not urgently needed...
  • Addressing Private Sector Debt through Sustainable Bond Guarantees
    The latest G20 finance ministers meeting concluded with no major progress on debt relief for the world’s poorest countries, and a ...

Publications

  • The Multilateral Development Bank for the Future
    Nadia Fettah
    Last month, CGD hosted an event with finance ministers on MDB reform, and we now continue the conversation with this reflection fr...
  • International Financial Institutions in a Time of New Challenges
    Michel Patrick Boisvert
    New challenges are emerging in developing countries, and are acute in more fragile countries. Last month, CGD hosted an event with...
  • A Bank for the World
    As one of the only truly global institutions, the World Bank is uniquely positioned to be the world’s premier source funding for g...
  • Country Platforms and Delivery of Global Public Goods
    This paper discusses three potential requirements for country platforms to facilitate effective delivery of GPGs. We propose that ...
  • Reallocating SDRs to Multilateral Development Bank
    In this note we consider the technical challenges of channeling SDRs to institutions other than the IMF that have already been app...
  • IFC 3.1?
    IFC’s board and leadership understand that meeting these goals requires a change in the way that the corporation operates, and a n...
  • Forging an MDB System: Strategy and Governance
    The need for collaboration and cooperation across the multilateral development banks (MDBs) seems obvious. Donor governments set u...
  • A Climate-Dedicated Capital Increase at the World Bank and IFC
    With a new US administration rejoining the Paris Agreement and the upcoming Glasgow climate conference set to endorse a new set of...
  • The Stretch Fund
    When the world adopted the SDGs, policymakers knew that aid alone would never meet the financing needs. They embraced the “b...

Events

  • Future of Development Forum
    Climate change, conflict, food insecurity, and pandemics. These global challenges are growing in urgency, and complexity—and they ...
  • Boosting MDBs’ Role and Capacity in Development Finance
    In July, the G20 published the report it had commissioned from an independent panel of experts to assess MDB capital adequacy. The...
  • MDBs for a Global Future: Emerging Market Leader Perspectives
    With increasing challenges that go beyond national borders, the World Bank and other MDBs must quickly transform themselves and be...
  • Secretary Yellen on International Development and Evolving the MDBs
    WASHINGTON — On Thursday, October 6, Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen will deliver remarks in Washington on key challenge...
  • Transforming the MDB System
    How can we rethink the World Bank and other MDBs to tackle the new, global challenges facing us today? This event marks the beginn...
  • Future of Development Forum
    Climate change, conflict, food insecurity, and pandemics. These global challenges are growing in urgency, and complexity—and they ...
  • Boosting MDBs’ Role and Capacity in Development Finance
    In July, the G20 published the report it had commissioned from an independent panel of experts to assess MDB capital adequacy. The...
  • MDBs for a Global Future: Emerging Market Leader Perspectives
    With increasing challenges that go beyond national borders, the World Bank and other MDBs must quickly transform themselves and be...
  • Secretary Yellen on International Development and Evolving the MDBs
    WASHINGTON — On Thursday, October 6, Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen will deliver remarks in Washington on key challenge...
  • Transforming the MDB System
    How can we rethink the World Bank and other MDBs to tackle the new, global challenges facing us today? This event marks the beginn...

Contact

For more information, contact Clemence Landers.

Contact

For more information, contact Clemence Landers.

Experts

Amanda Glassman
Amanda Glassman is executive vice president and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and also serves as chief executive officer of CGD Europe. Her research focuses on...
Charles Kenny
Charles Kenny is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. His current work focuses on global economic prospects, gender and development, and development finance. He is...
Clemence Landers
Clemence Landers is a policy fellow at the Center for Global Development and works on the US Development Policy Initiative. Prior to joining CGD, she worked at the U.S. Treasury...
Daouda Sembene
Daouda Sembene is a Distinguished Non-Resident Fellow at the Center for Global Development. He was previously a senior economic advisor to the President of Senegal. Daouda was also...
Mark Plant
Mark Plant is co-director of development finance, a senior policy fellow, and chief operating officer of CGD Europe. His appointment to CGD follows a long career at the Internation...
Masood Ahmed
Masood Ahmed is president of the Center for Global Development. He joined the Center in January 2017, capping a 35-year career driving economic development policy initiatives relat...
Nancy Lee
Nancy Lee is a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development and a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Her work at CGD focuses on the ...
Scott Morris
Scott Morris is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, director of the center’s US Development Policy program and co-director of the Sustainable Development Finance ...

Experts

  • Amanda Glassman
    Amanda Glassman is executive vice president and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and also serves as chief executive officer of CGD Europe. Her research focuses on...
  • Charles Kenny
    Charles Kenny is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. His current work focuses on global economic prospects, gender and development, and development finance. He is...
  • Clemence Landers
    Clemence Landers is a policy fellow at the Center for Global Development and works on the US Development Policy Initiative. Prior to joining CGD, she worked at the U.S. Treasury...
  • Daouda Sembene
    Daouda Sembene is a Distinguished Non-Resident Fellow at the Center for Global Development. He was previously a senior economic advisor to the President of Senegal. Daouda was also...
  • Mark Plant
    Mark Plant is co-director of development finance, a senior policy fellow, and chief operating officer of CGD Europe. His appointment to CGD follows a long career at the Internation...
  • Masood Ahmed
    Masood Ahmed is president of the Center for Global Development. He joined the Center in January 2017, capping a 35-year career driving economic development policy initiatives relat...
  • Nancy Lee
    Nancy Lee is a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development and a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Her work at CGD focuses on the ...
  • Scott Morris
    Scott Morris is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, director of the center’s US Development Policy program and co-director of the Sustainable Development Finance ...

Acknowledgments

How We're Funded

Find out more on the Center for Global Development's funding page.