Ideas to Action:

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CGD Policy Blogs


2021: Not Quite the Best of Times. Not Quite the Worst of Times

As the year draws to a close, the temptation to claim wisdom from adversity and experience becomes irresistible. We did it last year, by exploring what we learnt while the world burned around us. 2021 was perhaps a marginal improvement: not quite the best of times, but not quite the worst of times, either. But for us here in London, it’s ending just about where it started, with a new variant and a holiday season imperilled by the shadow of Coronavirus. While we anxiously wait for the latest lateral flow test to pass its sentence, we reflect on the good and bad of the year.

The New FCDO Health System Strengthening Position Paper – Too Good to be True? Three Recommendations to Ensure Impact

We congratulate the FCDO on the landmark paper on Health Systems Strengthening (HSS) and offer three recommendations for implementation: 1) further clarify strategic priorities, for example by articulating a poverty focus and prioritising partnership with low-and middle-income governments; 2) place greater emphasis on joined-up approaches to avoid fragmenting health systems; and 3) set up a monitoring framework to ensure impact.

An image of the River Thames in London.

How Can the UK Better Facilitate Environmental Migration?

We know that one of the main impacts of climate change will be an increase in all forms of mobility around the world. People will move in the wake of both sudden- and slow-onset disasters, responding to the negative impacts of climate change on their daily lives by seeking new lives and livelihoods internally, regionally, and internationally. With appropriate legal and policy frameworks, such migration can help people adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Figure 1: FCDO aid to Africa (regional and country allocable)

UK Development Strategy Should Reverse the Decline in UK’s Poverty Focus

The UK is developing a new development strategy, with girls’ education and economic development likely to figure prominently. The government is also prioritising the Indo-Pacific region in its wider international strategy and will need to allocate its aid with partner countries there and in Africa. In this blog, we draw on a new analysis of the UK’s focus on lower income countries, and on Africa—where nearly two thirds of the world’s extreme poor live.

Exploring the UK’s Preference for the World Bank’s IDA Fund

The UK made the largest absolute contribution in the last replenishment of the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), the bank’s main instrument for assisting the world’s poorest countries.

As the World Bank mobilizes for the IDA replenishment next month, we take an analytical look at the UK’s previous allocations to IDA. In particular, we develop a measure to assess the UK’s relative “preference” for IDA; and then compare this to the other multilaterals it supports, to other providers, and over time. We conclude with a look at IDA’s performance and the wider context of the UK’s replenishment decision.

British currency laid out on a surface

UK Aid: How Secure is the Pathway Back to 0.7 Percent?

The UK government has announced that it anticipates a return to spending 0.7 percent of gross national income (GNI) on official development assistance (ODA) in three years’ time. It is confident enough in this that the just-published Spending Review, which sets departmental budgets up to the 2024/25 fiscal year, has set aside provisional funding to return to the 0.7 percent ODA target for this eventuality in 2024/25.

world leaders argentina 2018

Why Global Leadership is Key to International Development

Global development leadership is faltering, yet remains necessary for advancing an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling global challenges, and driving progress towards the sustainable development agenda. We suggest that as traditional forums for leadership fail to make progress, informal groups provide an opportunity to advance common interests. 

An image of the IMF building.

The UK’s Planned Use of SDRs Will Take Resources Away From The Poor

The phrase “giving with one hand while taking with the other” has never been more apt than when applied to the UK’s recent approach to aid.

Under current plans, the UK will intentionally reduce the total amount of aid it makes available to developing countries by increasing its contributions to an IMF lending pot–and take credit for doing so. Because of how they are measured, the UK contributions to the IMF will displace other aid more than one-for-one, so overall, aid will be reduced.

There is no economic reason to reduce aid to accommodate such loans. Arguments about the deficit are irrelevant given that loans of this nature do not count towards it.

Here, we set out how this would work, how Treasury claims that they are simply “following the rules” do not justify this move, and what the IMF can do to mitigate the impact of this perverse move.