Ideas to Action
2015 was a momentous year in development and showed once again the value of CGD’s model: independent research and practical ideas for global prosperity. CGD offered new thinking on difficult global problems, hosted influential events, and informed the debate at this year’s milestone moments.
How Best to Help Refugees?
With Europe facing a refugee crisis, CGD’s Owen Barder chaired a high-level panel convened by the UK’s Department for International Development that explored how giving cash directly to refugees and others displaced by conflict might be a more effective, efficient, and transparent way to help them. The panel recommended harnessing digital technology to increase direct cash transfers. Its provocative report and a series of accompanying CGD products—blogs, papers, press releases, podcasts—generated great interest among governments, at the UN, and in the media.
Cash is still a tiny share of humanitarian aid.
Development Ideas for the Next US President
Researchers from across CGD contributed to a new briefing book full of practical proposals to inform a development policy agenda for the next US president. The White House and the World, edited by Ben Leo and Nancy Birdsall, features a range of concrete, low-cost recommendations that would serve US economic and security interests while promoting growth and reducing poverty abroad. With a launch event featuring a bipartisan panel, targeted distribution, and a series of private roundtables, we’re working to seed ideas early that will help ensure strong US leadership to promote global prosperity in the years ahead.
The next US President will be uniquely positioned to bolster global development at no incremental cost to taxpayers.
Curbing Illicit Finance, Promoting Economic Opportunity
The rise of the Islamic State as a global organization with considerable financial resources underscores the importance of the banking sector to national security. As governments craft policies to combat money laundering and curb terrorist financing, a CGD working group led by Clay Lowery and Vijaya Ramachandran sought to ensure that these efforts didn’t also result in banks unintentionally denying economic opportunity to those in the world’s poorest places. CGD’s policy recommendations—aimed at safeguarding migrant workers, small businesses, and vulnerable groups’ access to financial services—were presented to the US Congress and are shaping discussions within the US Treasury Department and the Bank of England on bank de-risking.
The policies that have been put in place to counter financial crimes may have unintentional and costly consequences.
Influencing Financial Institutions
CGD works to encourage powerful global development institutions to do more, do it better, and do it transparently. When the Asian Development Bank wanted a credible, independent source to review its proposal to restructure, it turned to CGD. Our assessment, led by Scott Morris, helped to unlock up to $17 billion more for development lending. In April, we hosted seven of eight candidates for the presidency of the African Development Bank for a live question-and-answer event, which captured the attention of online viewers in 82 countries and was cited as influential in the eventual election of Akinwumi Adesina of Nigeria.
Addis, New York, and Paris: Three Milestone Moments
CGD contributed ideas and events to the three key development conferences of 2015. We offered constructive advice to improve the Sustainable Development Goals ahead of their adoption in New York and hosted UNDP Administrator Helen Clark at an event underlining the link between climate and development. In Addis Ababa, our panel on “5 Big Ideas to Finance Development,” featuring EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti and OPIC CEO Elizabeth Littlefield, highlighted a simple reality: the ambition and universal nature of the SDGs demands resources beyond traditional foreign aid. That idea was reflected in the Addis final draft document. And as world leaders gathered in Paris to negotiate an agreement to combat climate change, CGD held three side events examining the potential for performance-based payments to reduce deforestation and help keep the planet within its carbon budget. We celebrated a new pledge from three countries—Germany, Norway, and the UK—to provide more than $5 billion for performance-based forest preservation.
with former Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo and UNDP Administrator Helen Clark at a CGD event
during the SDG Summit in New York.