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Reality is not yet matching rhetoric in moving from “billions to trillions” to finance the SDGs—how can we accelerate sustainable development finance?
To meet the Sustainable Development Goals, the world must ramp up development financing from billions to trillions. We must think beyond aid, to private finance and unlocking developing countries’ own resources. How development financing is mobilized and allocated must also change. Shared problems like climate change and the threat of pandemics can only be addressed through international cooperation. In addition, the rise of China as a major bilateral development partner and the emergence of new development agencies raise the question of whether the existing multilateral financing system is fit for purpose.
Our research focuses on four questions: How can international finance produce sufficient funding for development? How should it be allocated to meet both ongoing needs and future challenges, such as climate change and pandemics? How can financing most effectively mobilize private capital, safeguard public monies, and keep debt levels sustainable? And how should existing institutions be changed to best assist?
Last year the World Bank adopted a new “cascade” approach that intended to maximise finance for development by prioritising private solutions wherever possible. In what world would this “cascade” algorithm make sense? Without a good answer to that question, the cascade risks looking like ideology rather than sound development finance advice.
For at least a couple of decades NGOs and others in developing countries have been designing, evaluating, tinkering, and trying to improve projects and programs that deliver specific in-kind “interventions” to targeted individuals/households in ways that raised their incomes in a sustained way.
Since the early 2000s, Latin America has become increasingly integrated with the global economy, liberalizing trade and opening its capital account. These initiatives were prompted by the assumption that advanced economies would not impose barriers to the cross-border movement of goods and services. But today, a rising wave of protectionism not seen since the Great Depression challenges this assumption.
With this new reality as the backdrop, the Latin American Committee on Macroeconomic and Financial Issues (CLAAF) will be meeting in Washington, DC to discuss how to tackle these emerging global economic challenges. Members of this committee include former finance ministers, former central bank governors, and other high-level economic officials and academics from across Latin America.
To say that John Bolton, President Trump’s latest pick for National Security advisor is a well-known UN critic would be an understatement. But it’s well worth noting that he has opinions about the IMF and the multilateral development banks too.
Simply allowing more labor mobility holds vastly more promise for reducing poverty than anything else on the development agenda. That said, the magnitude of the gains from large growth accelerations (and losses from large decelerations) are also many-fold larger than the potential gains from directed individual interventions and the poverty reduction gains from large, extended periods of rapid growth are larger than from targeted interventions and also hold promise (and have delivered) for reducing global poverty.
Perhaps the least noticed, but most impactful, addition to the US foreign assistance toolkit in recent years has been the US sovereign bond guarantee (SBG). However, the Trump administration’s proposed FY 2019 budget leaves out any request for authorization of new SBGs—and it isn’t entirely clear why. As Congress begins to consider the FY19 budget request, I offer three recommendations on the SBG program so that its role in US foreign assistance going forward can be carefully considered.