Views from the Center

Global Development: Views from the Center features posts from Nancy Birdsall and her colleagues at the Center for Global Development about innovative, practical policy responses to poverty and inequality in an ever-more globalized world.

 

Results Measurement and the Case for Aid

Many in the development community lament that we have failed on two counts: broad audiences don’t know about unprecedented progress in poverty reduction and human development indicators in recent decades, and, if they do know, they don’t see the connection between aid programs and such progress. Despite strongs efforts on the part of development institutions to measure results, it remains hard to articulate them in a way that is compelling to nontechnical audiences—taxpayers who absolutely deserve to understand why and how development dollars are making a difference. 

Really, Global Poverty *Is* Falling. Honest.

Martin Kirk and Jason Hickel published a piece earlier this week on the annual Gates Letter. The core critique is that the letter is too rosy. In particular, Kirk and Hickel say of the Gates' letter: "some of their examples are just wrong." The case they provide in illustration is the idea that poverty has been cut by half since 1990. The Gates "use figures based on a $1.25 a day poverty line, but there is a strong scholarly consensus that this line is far too low." Use other poverty lines, and global poverty "hasn’t been falling. In fact, it has been increasing—dramatically.” (See related pieces by Jason here and here). I don't think this critique holds up.

Five Ways to Share Climate’s Best Kept Secret this International Day of Forests

Protecting and restoring tropical forests represents one of the biggest, cheapest, and fastest ways to fight climate change, as Frances Seymour and I show in our book, Why Forests? Why Now? Yet climate conversations in rich countries remain heavily dominated by energy, while tropical forests often feel like climate’s best kept secret. On the International Day of Forests, here are five ways to make tropical forests a better known climate solution.

Jobs for Women: New Frontiers for Research and Action

The pace towards gender equality has been far too slow. Despite major progress on narrowing gender gaps in educational attainment, global progress has stagnated in a most important area for gender equality: women’s participation in the world of paid work. Gender gaps in economic participation are widespread and persistent, averaging around 27 percent globally in 2015, only about 1.5 percent lower than in 1990.

Defending Development in a Time of Cuts—My Conversation with UNDP’s Helen Clark

On the day the Trump Administration proposed considerable cuts to the US international affairs budget, including US funding for the UN, CGD hosted the outgoing head of the UN’s largest agency, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark. As she prepares to step down after eight years in the post, she will leave behind a UN system facing serious questions about its future capabilities and financing. That idea, in fact, informed the title of our event Facing Future Challenges on Uncertain Ground, the video of which you can watch here.

Does the US Interest Rate Rise Mean Trouble for Emerging Markets? Depends on Your Timeframe

The rate is still very low at 0.75% in the US, and, in addition, there is no perception or expectation that rates are about to rise in other advanced economies such as Japan or the EU. Taken together then, interest rates in advanced economies look set to stay extremely low. So, for now at least, emerging markets may not need to worry too much about capital inflows drying up. But in the medium to long term a problem may loom for emerging markets.

The Time Is Right for Expanding the Use of the IMF’s Precautionary Credit Lines

Many emerging economies could benefit from insurance against this backdrop of volatility. Fortunately, cheap and no-strings-attached liquidity insurance exists, in the form of the IMF’s Flexible Credit Line (FCL) for countries with very strong policy fundamentals; for countries with somewhat weaker, but still sound fundamentals, the Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL) offers a similarly good deal. But these precautionary instruments remain underutilized. We have some suggestions on how the IMF could fix this.

Insights from Experience: Practical Effects of the SDGs on Public Administration and Aid

When the UN adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, they were met with a mix of hopedismay, and derision. Until we see how people respond to these goals, judgments about their specificity, complexity, and usefulness are educated guesses. At a workshop last month, I got a glimpse of two ways the SDGs may be making a difference—focusing political attention and reorganizing aid relationships.

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