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Development Leaders Conference 2021: The Need for a Bold, New Approach to Development Cooperation

In 2021, the ongoing grip of COVID-19 served as a stark reminder of the fragility of our progress in fighting poverty and COP26 highlighted the need for richer countries to provide substantial funding to meet global challenges. As the twin crises of a global pandemic and climate change threaten to leave developing countries far behind, and squeezed aid budgets in many donor countries create their own challenges, development agencies are facing intense pressure.

Last month we had an opportunity to discuss these issues at the Development Leaders Conference (DLC) co-hosted by the Center for Global Development (CGD) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). This annual gathering, now in its fourth year, brings together heads of bilateral development agencies and senior management from selected multilateral institutions for a frank peer-to-peer exchange and mutual learning.

While the event is held under Chatham House rules, this blog summarizes some of the key discussion points and illustrates why there was so much agreement on the need for a paradigm shift in development cooperation.

An image of a glass globe, coins, and an hour glass.

Development Agencies and the “New Normal”

In this blog, we map key trends and changes in the development landscape and highlight the implications of these changes for the future of ODA. These findings were presented at the Development Leaders Conference 2021, held earlier this month. All development agencies will need to ask themselves how to better address challenges that extend beyond national boundaries and how to respond to the increasing incidence of poverty and inequality at the national level. Both approaches are linked and can co-exist. But they require a re-think of roles, practices and capacities

An image of solar panels and windmills.

What Aid Agency Leaders Should Worry About on Climate Finance

One of my overwhelming preoccupations over the last 10 years as a chief executive of international aid organisations, first as permanent secretary of the UK’s Department for International Development and then as head of the UN’s humanitarian affairs, has been that there was never enough money, even when budgets were growing.

A USAID logo on a cargo shipment

Optimism and Advice for Advancing USAID’s Vision for Locally-led Development: A Conversation With Randy Tift

I sat down with Randy Tift who, between 2017 and 2021, co-led USAID’s Effective Partnering and Procurement Reform (EPPR) process and launched the New Partnerships Initiative (NPI), under the leadership of then-USAID Administrator Mark Green. Randy is currently a Senior Associate at Oxford House. He’s also working on an in-depth paper on the past and future of USAID’s reform agenda, which CGD will publish in early 2022. Randy is optimistic about what he sees taking shape at the agency and has some ideas for how to advance Power’s vision. 

An image of a woman working on a road in Cameroon.

Building Metrics for the US National Gender Strategy: From Aspiration to Action

With the Biden-Harris administration’s release of the first-ever National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, the United States has taken an unprecedented step in seeking to close gender gaps at home and abroad. In light of persistent gender inequalities, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers across the globe need to ensure an inclusive recovery:  — one that makes gender equality central to building back better and to long-term development efforts. The strategy is an important step toward achieving this goal. 

An image suggesting development cooperation globally

The Development Leaders Conference 2021 Preview: The Changing Agenda For Global Development Cooperation

With the world still in the tight grip of the COVID-19 pandemic, development cooperation partners are facing unprecedented challenges. With increased poverty rates, limited fiscal space due to the pandemic and a heightened need to adapt to global challenges like climate change, partner countries face overlapping crises that urgently need to be tackled. Meanwhile, donor countries and their development cooperation agencies also face a variety of obstacles: stagnant or decreasing aid budgets, political demand to link development cooperation spending to domestic interests and a more volatile global world order. These issues will set the stage for the 2021 virtual Development Leaders Conference (DLC) taking place next month.

US dollars and coins laid out on a plain surface

Too Much Aid Is Going to Rich Countries—and Donor Officials Don’t Seem to Know It

In two new papers published today, we document some uncomfortable facts about how official development assistance (ODA) is distributed across countries at different income levels and levels of poverty—even among members of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC), and how poorly informed senior and mid-ranking donor officials are about this.

An image of the Capitol Building in Washington DC.

“Challenge is our Middle Name:” Key Issues for MCC in FY2022

We’re already a few weeks into the new fiscal year, but nevertheless it’s good to see the House Foreign Affairs Committee has plans to delve into the FY2022 budget request for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), alongside the requests for DFC and the Peace Corps. Looking only at the topline figure, MCC appears to fare well this year, coming in at $912 million. This is the highest request since FY2017 and equal to last year’s enacted level. But that topline belies a major recission of $515 million in unobligated prior year funds, which could have real implications for the agency’s operations now and in the future.

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