Paying for Zero: A new global vision for sustainable development, 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…]

Can we slash poverty and starvation by 2015? Yes, if we get to work [op-ed]

Go to the Globe and Mail homepage


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

If global development targets followed a National Football League format, we would be approaching the two-minute warning. December 31, 2015, marks the final deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, the global anti-poverty targets that have mobilized an unprecedented generational success in tackling extreme poverty around the world, most notably the burdens of disease in the poorest countries. We are now facing the final moment to bend the relevant curves of progress. For decision makers, 2013 is the real 2015. [Read more…]

Short ForumLive Interview with Prof Chan Yuen Ying

On Saturday I did a short (if sleep-deprived) ForumLive interview in Davos with Prof Chan Yuen Ying, Director of the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at Hong Kong University.  In it we talked about some of the issues covered in the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Outlook 2013, which includes some commentary from Prof Chan (and my friend Michael Elliott) on the role of journalism in restoring trust in public institutions, plus some commentary from me and Wu Changhua regarding the MDGs and the post-2015 development agenda.

Video here:


Some Important Lessons for Global Academic Innovation

[This piece originally appeared in Huffington Post on May 17, 2010]

Earlier this month the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced more than $5 million in grants to help ten universities establish cross-disciplinary Master’s in Development Practice (MDP) degree programs in eight countries around the world. These add to the $10 million in grants that the foundation allocated last year to seed MDP programs in a dozen universities around the world achat viagra soft. This new global academic network now includes more than 20 schools across 15 countries and five continents.

There are several noteworthy lessons and trends to glean from this initiative. One is that private foundations still have an extraordinary capacity to support innovation around the world, and to create significant new public goods in the process. The idea of an MDP degree was recommended in late 2008 by a foundation-supported international commission composed of eminent practitioners and academics across a range of development fields. The commission included former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo; global health leaders Helene Gayle, Jim Kim, and Jeffrey Koplan; former UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman; Nobel laureate RK Pachauri; path-breaking ecologist Virgilio Viana; prominent agronomists Freddie Kwesiga and Alice Pell; and African academic leaders Goolam Mohamedbhai and Livingstone Luboobi.

It is remarkable that, less than two years later, more than 20 schools have committed to launching programs that will train students with core MDP skills spanning health science, natural science, social science, and management. The first program started this past year at Columbia University, where the initial cohort of students is extremely impressive and motivated. Within another two years, and less than four years after the commission published its recommendations, the network of programs will be training at least several hundred students annually around the world. Highly skilled MDP graduates will be newly empowered to work with specialists from a variety of disciplines and to identify ways to draw insights from those specialists for both policy and practice.

Importantly, the programs are set to take shape through a highly collaborative academic network, one in which member universities share curricular resources with one another and pursue joint classes to ensure each institution in the network has access to the best elements throughout the network. I do not know of any other case where either a significant new type of degree program, or a collaborative global network of degree programs, has been launched with such speed by so many academic institutions around the world.

Another interesting dynamic is the significant curricular diversity that will be taking shape as the basic MDP frameworks are applied across the network. The universities will inherently approach sustainable development challenges through a range of academic, geographic, and practical perspectives, as can only be the case across campuses ranging from Bangladesh to Brazil and Senegal to Sri Lanka. But they will also approach the MDP topics through a highly diverse set of curricular emphases. The University of Winnipeg, for example, will focus on the special challenges of indigenous populations. Meanwhile the University of California at Davis will draw from its longstanding leadership in agriculture and environmental science.

Perhaps the most noteworthy trend around this initiative is its depth of global interest and support. The cross-section of 20 institutions supported by the MacArthur Foundation represents only a sliver of the universities that want to participate. When the foundation issued a request for MDP proposals, well over 100 universities around the world submitted formal letters of interest. This suggests that the initiative was tapping into a vast latent demand for a less siloed approach to professional training for sustainable development − one that draws much more systematically on scientific insights as key inputs to policy and practice. Hopefully the dozens of other institutions keen to launch MDP programs will also be able to do so soon.

MDP programs around the world are poised to make important contributions to the training of future practitioner leaders in sustainable development. The MacArthur Foundation deserves great credit for its vision in supporting this effort and for the speed with which it has carried it through. More broadly, we can all take inspiration from the important lessons the initiative provides on how strategic philanthropy and a collaborative approach to global institutional innovation can form new trends in the years to come.