The Center for Global Development (CGD) and the Centre for Finance and Development at the Graduate Institute Geneva are teaming up to bring together two communities working on innovative ideas to accelerate economic development in the world’s poorest countries: international finance practitioners who are thinking about how to marry public and private international financing for development (so-called blended finance), and researchers who are rethinking government strategies to encourage private activity in sectors viewed as key to economic development (known as the new industrial policy).

Blended finance and the new industrial policy should go hand in hand if we are to have any hope of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Delivering more financing deals will not deliver the SDGs unless the constraints that hold back economic transformation are removed. And any effort by governments to transform economies and “make markets” will fail unless trillions of dollars of financing every year starts to flow to developing countries.

We will hold the first conference specially designed to convene both the new-industrial-policy thinkers and the blended-finance practitioners in Geneva, Switzerland on November 8-9, 2018. The conference will mix cutting-edge academic sessions with high-level policy panels.

There are a lot of issues to be tackled to get the private/public financing synergy to succeed, and we are casting our net widely for research that addresses some parts of the puzzle. We will discuss the design of financial instruments for blending and how financing can be structured to maximize the development leverage of foreign and domestic funds. We will look for tools that assess whether public blended funds are in fact scaling up, not substituting for, private investment. And we need measurement methods to assess the development impact of the investments, both prospectively and retrospectively.

Among the specific questions we have posed to participants are:

  • What lessons does history have for development practitioners today?
  • What are the binding constraints to scale up effective development finance?
  • What types of investments have historically been associated with rapid poverty reduction?
  • What mechanisms can development financiers use to increase the likelihood that their investments are additional and don’t just crowd out the private sector?
  • Which blended finance instruments are best suited to which development objectives?
  • What are the drivers of success in public-private partnerships?
  • How should blended finance be adapted in fragile and conflict-affected states?
  • How can the supply of investment opportunities be increased?
  • How can development impact of private investment be best measured?
  • How can systemic impacts be captured?

We expect this conference to launch needed research, generate productive debate, and foster long-term collaboration across the political and professional spectra.

Interested researchers, inside and outside of academe, should look at the call for papers and send us their proposals by June 3, 2018.