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The overlapping mandates of existing IFIs and the emergence of new development finance institutions raises the question of whether the current development finance system is effectively working together to target scarce global aid resources towards areas of greatest impact. Nations face shared problems–such as climate change, recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and the threat of future pandemics, and unregulated cross-border movements of people–that can only be addressed through international cooperation. Economic prosperity has led to an increasing number of middle-income countries, bringing with it a need to examine the role of development finance institutions in relatively wealthier economies. Rising debt levels in vulnerable countries is also a growing concern in the development community, leading to a greater need for coordination on norms and standards among development lenders.
With aid representing a declining share of development finance, CGD is asking what institutional changes are needed within the multilateral development banks and other international financial institutions to reflect new realities and rise to the challenge of a resilient and sustainable recovery that resets the world on a path to achieving the SDGs? How should bilateral donors be most effective in the more complex development finance system? And how can those changes be made most effectively?
In 2016 on the CGD Podcast, we have discussed some of development's biggest questions: How do we pay for development? How do we measure the sustainable development goals (SDGs)? What should we do about refugees and migrants? And is there life yet in the notion of globalism? The links to all the full podcasts featured and the work they reference are below, but in this edition, we bring you highlights of some of those conversations.
Over the last several years, the United States and other major donor countries have supported a historic initiative to write down the official debts of a group of heavily indebted poor countries, or HIPCs. Donor countries had two primary goals in supporting debt relief: to reduce countries' debt burdens to levels that would allow them to achieve sustainable growth; and to promote a new way of assisting poor countries focused on home-grown poverty alleviation and human development. While the current "enhanced HIPC" program of debt relief is more ambitious than any previous initiative, it will fall short of meeting these goals. We propose expanding the HIPC program to include all low-income countries and increasing the resources dedicated to debt relief. Because debt relief will still only be a first step, we also recommend reforms of the current "aid architecture" that will make debt more predictably sustainable, make aid more efficient, and help recipient countries graduate from aid dependence.
Recognizing the growing global premium on environmental sustainability in a climate-challenged world, we call on member governments of the World Bank to take the first step in that direction by renaming the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Sustainable Development (IBRSD)—and to reshape its mission accordingly, toward leadership on issues of the global commons or global public goods that are squarely in the development domain and require a global shareholder base to respond collectively. Shareholders should in turn look to the regional MDBs to take leadership in supporting the new imperative of sustainable development through country and regional operations across all sectors, but particularly in increasing investment in infrastructure that takes into account the logic of low-carbon and climateresilient economies in the developing world. In line with this approach to differentiated roles within an MDB system, the panel makes five recommendations to better realize the MDB system’s potential for meeting today’s development challenges.
Many developing countries need the World Bank’s capital less and less. What role should the Bank play in the 21st century? This paper argues that many features of the Bank today reflect a new role. That role, resting on the economic theory of bargaining and public good provision, is to reduce extreme poverty. Donor subsidies to the Bank already reflect this role, which implies new ways to structure and evaluate the Bank’s work.
While Modi has celebrated India’s rapid rise in the Doing Business rankings, the World Bank’s Chief Economist recently resigned amid controversy over methodological changes. Without those changes, India’s “jump” in the rankings looks much more modest.