Paying for Zero: A new global vision for sustainable development

forumblog.org, Mar 7th 2014

When the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were first established nearly 15 years ago, the half-joke reminder among global health experts was that they needed to replace the “M” with a “B” when talking about financing – meaning the solutions required budgets in the order of billions rather than millions of dollars. Today, as the MDGs approach their 2015 deadline and the world negotiates a new global vision for sustainable development, the time has come to shift mindsets from “B” to “T”, since the next frontier is talking about trillions of dollars in required investment throughout the global economy.

To that end, members of the Global Agenda Council on Poverty and Sustainable Development have this week released a report distilling key financing challenges to be addressed in establishing a new generation of global development goals. The report, Paying for Zero: Global Development Finance and the Post-2015 Agenda, stresses the crucial complementary roles and opportunities for public, private and “blended” finance at the domestic and international levels. The word “zero” is used to signal a broad theme of transformation for sustainable development: eliminating extreme poverty, eliminating the most pernicious forms of inequality, and eliminating environmentally unsustainable economic activities.

Stressing ongoing generational shifts in the global development landscape, the report argues that ambitious post-2015 goals will require accompanying ambition and innovation in development finance.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

The conclusions tackle a wide range of issues, including:

  • Development finance will increasingly be integrated across types. Flows from public finance will need to leverage additional private finance, and all forms of finance will need to adhere to common standards of transparency, measurement and reporting.
  • As many developing countries continue to make long-term economic gains, the process of graduation from official development assistance (ODA) needs very careful consideration. For example, emerging lower-middle-income countries, especially those with large numbers of extreme poor, should not face a stark drop-off in access to external finance.
  • It is crucial that the international community place special emphasis on protecting and enhancing properly-targeted ODA budgets. These will need to prioritize the poorest countries and programmes that most effectively reduce poverty. But even with complete success in eliminating extreme poverty by 2030, ODA will continue to play a crucial role tackling many deep global priorities through to 2030 and beyond.
  • Improving the capacity of developing countries to mobilize their own resources should be an important element of ODA, without imposing unwanted conditionalities.
  • Greatly enhanced instruments are needed to incentivize the amount and nature of required private finance post-2015. Big ticket investments in infrastructure, energy and agriculture will all require some degree of blending between public and private sources.
  • Many of the infrastructure investments for sustainable development will be the same ones that determine the future of the world’s climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

The report’s release coincides with this week’s meetings of both the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing and the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals at the UN Headquarters in New York. The Global Agenda Council on Poverty and Sustainable Development brings together a variety of eminent leaders and practitioners from public, private and non-profit sectors around the world.  An earlier draft of the paper was circulated for public comment in January.

Author: John McArthur is a Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. He is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and chair of the Global Agenda Council on Poverty and Sustainable Development.

Image: People walk past closed shops in a slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 23, 2013. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares.

 

How Much Aid for Basic Needs to 2030? Some Very Coarse Numbers

Brookings – Opinion | February 6, 2014

Amidst the growing global consensus around a target of “zero” extreme poverty for 2030, there is renewed debate around the role of official development assistance (ODA) and how much will be required to achieve the goal. The ideal way to assess this question would be through country-specific, bottom-up costing assessments that account for general equilibrium price dynamics and allow for the possibility of shocks, whether positive (e.g., technology) or negative (e.g., conflict or fuel price spikes). In the absence of such rigorous scenario-based analysis, some back-of-the-envelope calculations help inform the approximate orders of magnitude of aid required.

Two conceptually distinct approaches can help inform deliberations on the issue:

  • The first is to estimate the cost of essential services for extremely poor people and the amount of public expenditure required to finance them.
  • The second is to estimate the dollar value of the extreme poverty gap, i.e., the amount of transfers theoretically required to bring each person in the world up to a living standard of $1.25 a day.

1. Essential Services Budget GapWatch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

A budget gap for basic services can be estimated through some simple arithmetic. Assume the following:

(1) A full package of basic public services for health, education, infrastructure, agriculture and public administration costs $200 per capita per year, including roughly $100-140 for Millennium Development Goal-type public investments (in line with the bottom-up estimates of the U.N. Millennium Project, 2005). [Read more…]

How to Pay for Sustainable Development?

Published January 24 at forumblog.orgfarmers

A plan without a budget is just a hallucination. My colleague Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children International, cited this line in today’s televised Davos debate on the global agenda to end extreme poverty by 2030. A similar message was conveyed earlier in the day by Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who stressed the need to come to grips with financing amid the interwoven practicalities of tackling climate change and global development goals.

The challenge for the world in this regard is that the nature of global development finance has changed tremendously over the past two decades. Targeted aid flows have increased, prompting tremendous breakthroughs in such areas as health and education. Meanwhile many developing countries have experienced long-term economic growth and thereby transitioned to more market-based financing mechanisms. Innovations have empowered many new sources of finance to contribute to global development. Government, business and civil society are increasingly seen as necessary partners for promoting prosperity and sustainability.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

A new generation of global priorities requires a renewed strategy for global development finance. Recognizing the complexity, many colleagues and I in the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Poverty and Sustainable Development have been working to distill some key issues to be addressed to underpin success after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire at the end of next year.

This week we are circulating a working draft paper for feedback. Entitled “Paying for Zero: Global Development Finance and the Post-2015 Agenda”, the draft is shared to invite comments, and is not yet meant for quotation. It is intended as a contribution to ongoing global deliberations regarding the composition of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

Below is an excerpt from the draft’s concluding section. We look forward to comments and suggestions from all those who are interested.

“Financing a post-2015 sustainable development agenda will require policy-makers and publics to consolidate and bolster the key components of the current system that already work well, while addressing key constraints. At the same time they should expand the system to include a more nuanced and layered approach to match the evolving set of needs and actors around the world.

“We conclude with four key points:

  1. Transparency and accountability towards results must be a centrepiece of post-2015 finance. All stakeholders, public and private, must commit to common standards anchored in forthright reporting and measurement of transactions, beneficiaries and impacts.
  2. The ambition of ending extreme poverty by 2030 should not be confused with ending ODA by 2030. The needs for ODA go well beyond US$ 1.25/day poverty and even a fully successful extreme poverty agenda will likely require targeted support beyond 2030. Moreover, well targeted ODA is catalytic for mobilizing broader private sector investments. A dollar of ODA is typically the hardest dollar of development finance to mobilize. Even if required aid volumes might look smaller than complementary private volumes, ongoing political diligence will be required to ensure ODA is adequate to the post-2015 challenge.
  3. Greatly enhanced instruments are needed to accompany and incentivize the amount and nature of private finance that will be required to achieve a post-2015 sustainable development agenda. The biggest ticket investments are in infrastructure, energy and agriculture, all of which will typically require some degree of “blending,” whether in the form of risk guarantees, advantageous long-term borrowing structures or other appropriate structures. Many of these will also be the same investments that determine the future of the world’s climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.
  4. Private sector actors have a major role to play in partnering with government and civil society to ensure a suitably ambitious and fair approach to mobilizing post-2015 private development finance. Private investors need to know that policymakers are keen to create the incentives that will mobilize the needed long-term investments. Policy-makers need to fulfil their mandates in serving the public trust. And publics need to know that the gains will be widely and equitably shared, towards a sustainably prosperous global future for all.”

John McArthur is a Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. He is participating in the Annual Meeting 2014 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.

Image: Ethiopian farmers Mandefro Tesfaye and Tayto Mesfin collect wheat. REUTERS/Barry Malone

All opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Economic Forum Blog is an independent and neutral platform dedicated to generating debate around the key topics that shape global, regional and industry agendas.

Op-Ed: Canada’s next act of global health leadership

By John W. McArthur, Ottawa Citizen, November 27, 2013

Canada’s global health contributions remain underappreciated in our national debates. Amid flashpoint foreign policy topics of conflict and military deployment, the quieter business of delivering health services usually affects a far greater number of lives around the world. In recent years, Canada’s contributions have been nowhere more evident than in its founding support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria. Over the coming week, Canada has an opportunity to provide decisive leadership for the institution’s critical next phase of expansion.

The Global Fund’s Fourth Replenishment conference begins in Washington next Tuesday, Dec. 3. It will cover the three year period 2014 through 2016, including the final stretch of the Millennium Development Goals through to end-2015. As a pioneering blend of government, non-profit and private sector partners, the Global Fund has played a pivotal role in transforming minimum global health standards.

Canada has long been in the middle of this global health revolution. The 1996 Vancouver International AIDS Conference was the watershed moment presenting evidence that antiretroviral medicines could convert AIDS from a death sentence to a treatable disease. But by 2000, treatment still remained essentially inaccessible throughout the developing world. At the time roughly 30 million people were HIV infected, mostly in Africa, where the disease was killing more than a million people year. In 2001, then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for the launch of a new global fund to make treatment possible at scale. Canada joined the Gates Foundation, the United States and a handful of other countries to seed the institution.

Many individual Canadians have been centrally involved in the global effort. For example, Stephen Lewis served with passionate distinction as UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. James Orbinski was a leader in advancing academic research and access to essential medicine. Stephanie Nolen vividly documented the personal journeys of individuals struck by the AIDS pandemic. Ernest Loevinsohn played a crucial role helping to shape and govern the Global Fund itself. By 2010, Prime Minister Stephen Harper had assumed a personal leadership role on global health accountability, especially on areas linked to maternal, newborn and child survival.

Today the Global Fund has racked up a stunning track record of success. It has made AIDS treatment possible for more than five million people, including an extra million people registered in the first part of 2013 alone. Thanks to the Fund and its partners, nearly 300 million malaria cases have been treated, and nearly half of at-risk African households are using modern anti-malaria bednets, compared to less than three per cent in 2000. Amid perhaps inevitable growing pains, the institution has also continuously innovated in its procurement methods to cut costs and leverage dollars.

Under its highly respected leader, Dr. Mark Dybul, the Global Fund has established a Fourth Replenishment budget of $15 billion, or $5 billion per year. They anticipate this will be enough to save 5.8 million lives and improve hundreds of millions more. Crucially, the Fund also sees the opportunity for a decisive “tipping point” in slashing underlying infection rates of major diseases.

How much should Canada contribute? Earlier this year, the Obama Administration pledged $1.65 billion for 2014, or roughly $5 per American, through a challenge whereby the U.S. matches every $2 of other countries’ funding with $1 of its own. However, the U.S. situation is unique, since it also has major bilateral disease control programs and makes only a small share of its global contributions through the Global Fund.

For Canada’s purposes, more comparable pledges have recently been made by the Nordic collaborative of Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden. These countries have a combined population of around 26 million and committed $250 million per year, or nearly $10 per person. Meanwhile the United Kingdom pledged $533 million per year, more than $8 per citizen. A similar annual commitment of $8 to $10 per Canadian works out to roughly $280-350 million per year. This represents an important increase on our most recent contributions of roughly $175 million per year, or $5 per Canadian. I believe most Canadians would be proud to invest an extra $5 per year toward the world’s most transformative multilateral health institution.

Canada has not yet announced how much it will pledge at next week’s conference, but the timing matters almost as much as the amount. In addition to the 50 American cents unlocked by each Canadian dollar, campaigners feel that an early Canadian commitment can also help to crowd-in additional funds from other countries that have not yet formally pledged. An announcement before the end of this week can still have a significant multiplier.

At a September global health event in New York, Harper eloquently stated that, “Degrees of failure are not measured in dollars. They are measured in thousands of lives.” Moreover, “Before 2015, and in pursuit of what are urgent and noble Millennium Goals, therefore let us give one final vigorous and decisive effort.” Over the coming week, Canada can decide to offer such measurably life-saving global leadership. If we do so, it will mark the next rung in a ladder of global health contributions, one in which all Canadians can rightfully be proud.

John W McArthur is a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Senior Fellow at the UN Foundation. He previously managed the UN Millennium Project. Follow him at Twitter.com/mcarthur.

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Asia’s local leaders could play key role in global accountability [op-ed]

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John McArthur says input on social, economic and environmental issues will be vital. 

Monday, 12 August, 2013

The 2008 global financial crisis instigated a cascade of events that still frame many of the world’s foremost political tensions. Simmering beneath the daily headlines lie protracted disputes over which private and public actors caused the problems, and thus who should now pick up the tab.

The scope of debate is enormous, but it likely pales next to the consequences of other global problems like climate change, ocean acidification, air pollution, and even income inequality. Like the financial crisis, these issues call attention to the need for new notions of global accountability across public and private sectors. Much of the resolution will hinge on finding a workable path in Asia.

A CGE Model for African Green Revolutions

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Globe and Mail: Importance of African Agriculture for Ending Extreme Poverty

Yesterday The Globe and Mail published a short piece I recently wrote on the importance of boosting African smallholder agriculture as a key element of any global effort to end extreme poverty.  The Globe ran the piece under the title, “To end poverty worldwide, fix African agriculture first.”  This reproduced a post I wrote originally for the ForumBlog a couple of weeks ago, under the title “Ending extreme poverty in Africa by 2030.”  Full text pasted below.

***

To end poverty worldwide, fix African agriculture first

The public chorus to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030 now includes US President Barack Obama, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and Bono. The backdrop is extremely promising since the developing world has already cut the share of people living below US$1.25 a day by half since 1990. At a consistent rate of progress, the other half could well cross the line in another 20 years too.

But, as my colleague Laurence Chandy and Brookings co-authors have recently pointed out, the distance to crossing the US$ 1.25 line varies tremendously by region. Most of China has already crossed the US$ 1.25 threshold and India has a huge share of its population poised to make the leap next. Sub-Saharan Africa has the farthest to go, despite recent progress, since a large proportion of its population still lives so far below US$ 1.25 per day, often at half that level of income.

Most of Africa’s poorest people live on small farms in rural areas, so those places will likely form the final frontier of the global quest to end extreme poverty. Although fast-growing cities have gained attention for their role in fighting poverty, including in the World Bank’s latest Global Monitoring Report, it is increases in rural productivity, especially agriculture, that are typically a fundamental driver of the urbanization process.Watch Full Movie Streaming Online and Download

There are grounds for optimism. Growing academic evidence highlights agriculture’s unique role in helping to reduce extreme poverty. For example, an important 2011 paper by economists Luc Christiaensen, Lionel Demery and Jesper Kuhl shows that agriculture is roughly three times more effective at reducing extreme poverty than non-agricultural sectors.

There has also been a global renaissance of attention on the need for an African Green Revolution, driven by both public and private investments in a manner that respects local community structures. The World Economic Forum’s Grow Africa initiative, which convened last week in Cape Town, offers a potential high-impact platform, bringing together investors and governments to launch practical joint strategies at scale.

Complementary investments in transport infrastructure, irrigation, farmer credit and input support systems (e.g. for fertilizer and seeds) were essential to Asia’s 20th century green revolutions that laid the foundation for that region’s subsequent economic breakthroughs. The same basic approach, updated for today’s social and environmental realities, can help to ensure Africa’s long-term economic success is equally, if not more, robust. The sooner the process starts, the faster the world gets to the finish line on extreme poverty.

Foreign Affairs article – Condensed history of MDGs

I have an article in the new March/April edition of Foreign Affairs, entitled “Own the Goals: What the Millennium Development Goals Have Accomplished.”  Here is the magazine teaser:

Since their inception in 2000, The Millennium Development Goals have revolutionized the global aid business, using specific targets to help mobilize and guide development efforts. They have encouraged world leaders to tackle multiple dimensions of poverty simultaneously and provided a standard for judging performance. As their 2015 expiration looms, the time has come to bank those successes and focus on what comes next.

Full text also available (for a little while) on my Brookings page and below.

Own the Goals

What the Millennium Development Goals Have Accomplished

By John W. McArthur

March/April 2013

[Read more…]

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