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The Case for Foreign Assistance — Gates Foundation’s Mark Suzman and CGD Experts

How do you make the case for US foreign aid to an Administration that has proposed slashing it? That was the task for Mark Suzman, Chief Strategy Officer and president of Global Policy and Advocacy for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, when he recently accompanied Bill Gates to meetings at the White House. In this week's CGD podcast, Suzman gives us two very different versions of the fight against global poverty and disease—the perception and the reality. At an event called Financing the Futurehe joined CGD experts Masood Ahmed, Amanda Glassman, and Antoinette Sayeh to discuss ways the development community can better convey their results. 

Key Destinations of Foreign Assistance, 2000-2015

Key Destinations of Foreign Assistance, 2000-2015

Increases in foreign aid spending—including both military and economic assistance—are not merely a phenomenon of the past eight years. Foreign aid spending increased under the administrations of both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, largely due to increases in funding to Afghanistan and Iraq. Beyond these three areas, growth in foreign aid spending has been relatively modest.

International Affairs Subfunctions as a Percentage of Total Outlays, 2000-2015

It only takes a quick look at the numbers to see that if your chief goal is to bolster defense spending—as President Trump has suggested his is—even deep cuts to foreign aid programs will be of little help. Together, the cuts proposed to the State Department and USAID amount to less than 3 percent of the defense budget.

What Do the Trump Administration's Budget Cuts Mean—and What Do They Mask? – Scott Morris and Amanda Glassman

The headline figure revealed in the "skinny budget" was 28.4 percent cuts to the State Department, USAID, and international programs. When other areas of spending directly relevant to development are considered, the actual level of cuts is over 30 percent. What do these cuts mean for the people most affected and for America’s role as a global development leader? CGD’s Scott Morris and Amanda Glassman weigh in.

Financing the Future: A Conversation with Mark Suzman

In the current political and economic climate, donor governments are under pressure to reduce and spend foreign aid budgets as efficiently and effectively as possible. Aid remains a critical driver of progress. Yet at the same time, aid is increasingly NOT how the world pays for development; even the annual total of around $160 billion in overseas development assistance (ODA) represents a small and declining share of all global development finance. Private investment flows and developing countries' own public resources dwarf ODA. And while organizations like the World Bank and the UN still have top billing, commitment to their core missions appears to be weakening and regional alternatives are on the rise. Given these considerations, what is the future of development finance?

FY2016 Enacted and FY2018 "Skinny Budget" Request

Funding areas are divided into those that are explicitly cut in the skinny budget, those that are not specified in the skinny budget and thus vulnerable to cuts, and those that appear to be less vulnerable based on the skinny budget.

Cutting Foreign Aid? Expert Perspectives on US Investment in International Development

While still a work in progress, the Trump Administration’s first budget request to Congress is expected to contain deep cuts to the US foreign affairs budget. What would substantial funding reductions mean for US efforts to advance global development and for US interests more broadly? What does the evidence tell us about US investments in foreign aid? How can the administration and Congress work to ensure the best use of assistance dollars?

“Poverty is a Form of Violence” – Reema Nanavaty

In India, 94% of women in the labor force are in the unorganized sector. Their work is generally unrecognized and they often receive no regular salary or workplace benefits. Reema Nanavaty, Secretary General of India’s largest women's trade union SEWA, discusses why officially recognizing these women as workers could benefit not only their families but India as a whole.

The Tech Revolution: Can Development Policy Keep Up? – Raj Kumar of Devex

Viral videos, crowdsourced donations, digital cash transfers for refugees—what opportunities do digital technologies present for development, and how can those of us working on policy innovation make better use of them? Mobile phones were a good start, Devex's Raj Kumar says, but we could be doing a lot more.

Empowering Women Can Make America Great – Amanda Glassman, Mayra Buvinic, and Charles Kenny

The scale of the turnout at the Women’s Marches across the world recently, along with President Trump’s early reinstatement of a ban on US funding for organizations that offer family planning services in foreign countries, seem to suggest an administration already at odds with an entire gender. On this week’s podcast, three CGD senior fellows weigh in on the evidence that engaging and empowering women—both at home and overseas—makes good sense, especially in an America-First strategy.

A New Approach to Development Finance

The world’s development challenges are far too vast for the old way of doing things. To generate the trillions of dollars necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, international institutions, policymakers and the private sector need a new approach that unlocks the power of private investment.  IFC Executive Vice President and CEO Philippe Le Houérou will address how his institution’s new strategy of “creating markets,” especially where they are weak or nonexistent, can help redefine development finance in an uncertain global economic environment. Following Le Houérou’s remarks, he will be joined by a stellar panel for a discussion of the private sector development agenda.

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