Democracy is a public good. What is the development community doing about it?

By Anthony Smith, CEO of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD)

Democracy has been undervalued by the development community. I understand why – I am a child of decolonisation and its political economy of liberation, and my introduction to international development was through the target-driven Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). But I have come down firmly on the side of Amartya Sen’s view on the timing of democracy.  He said: “A country does not have to be deemed fit for democracy; rather, it has to become fit through democracy.” For too long, some in the donor community have been ambivalent about this, wanting proof that development goals would be reached faster in democracies than in autocracies and implying that democracy could wait. For too many of us, the politics of our partner country was just a factor to be navigated around to avoid disrupting our programmes.

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Implementing the SDGs: why are some civil society organisations being left behind?

By Vanessa de Oliveira, Task Team on CSO Development Effectiveness and Enabling Environment

Civil society organisations (CSOs) are widely recognised as important partners in the implementation and monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But to what extent is civil society really engaged and involved in SDG processes or consultations at the country level?

A new Task Team study undertaken by the International Institute of Social Studies points to a lack of diversity in the types of civil society organisations engaged in these processes. Organisations that are part of the aid system – typically urban, often international or based in donor countries – are at a clear advantage.Similarly, another study (the 2018 Monitoring Round of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation) found opportunities for civil society organisations to be irregular, unpredictable and lacking the involvement of a diverse set of actors. The latest OECD study on Development Assistance Committee members and civil society also echoes these conclusions: dialogues between donors and CSOs are more likely to take place at the donors’ headquarters, and lack general good practice standards like setting a joint agenda.

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Beyond vested interests: Reforming international co-operation post COVID-19

By Imme Scholz, Deputy Director of the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) and Deputy Chair of the German Council for Sustainable Development [1]


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


The world is now in the eighth month of the COVID-19 pandemic. When this was written, the highest daily infection rates were recorded in India, the US and Brazil, while the highest death rates (per 100,000 inhabitants) were registered in Europe and the Americas. Africa so far has not turned into a hotspot of the disease – good news that is attributed to effective public health workers and Africa’s young population. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare weaknesses and blind spots in societies, economies and policies worldwide. Notably that public services the world over take too long to understand their new responsibilities under changed circumstances and as a result act too slowly, at the expense of the most vulnerable. For example, infection and death rates are high in OECD countries despite good health care systems. And insufficient digital infrastructure and access in public administrations, schools and households, exacerbated by social inequalities, affect access to education in Germany or in Latin American countries alike.

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COVID-19 has pushed extreme poverty numbers in Africa to over half a billion

By Baldwin Tong, PhD candidate, MODUL University Vienna, Department of Sustainability, Governance, and Methods


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


The global economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a large setback of the international community’s goal to achieve SDG 1 of “no poverty” by 2030. Extreme poverty around the world is increasing, the first time that has happened this century after decades of global poverty reduction. Over 700 million people worldwide are currently estimated to be living in extreme poverty. Global poverty headline numbers have therefore returned to approximately 2015 levels meaning that the world has lost almost 5 years in its effort to end extreme poverty due in large part to COVID-19. The following analysis is based on data from the World Poverty Clock.

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Inspectores Fiscales sin Fronteras: ayudar a los países en desarrollo a recuperarse de la crisis del COVID-19

Pascal Saint-Amans, director del Centro de Política y Administración Tributarias de la OCDE


Este blog es parte de una serie sobre cómo afrontar el COVID-19 en los países en vías de desarrollo. Visite la página de la OCDE dedicada al COVID-19 para acceder a los datos, análisis y recomendaciones de la OCDE sobre los impactos sanitarios, económicos, financieros y sociales del COVID-19 en todo el mundo


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Tras la crisis financiera de 2008, los gobiernos se unieron para lograr la transparencia fiscal y enfrentarse a la erosión de la base imponible y el traslado de beneficios. Aquella crisis también inspiró el nacimiento de Inspectores Fiscales sin Fronteras (IFSF), que se tornó en una iniciativa conjunta de la OCDE y el PNUD en la conferencia sobre la Financiación para el Desarrollo, celebrada en Addis Abeba. La iniciativa IFSF ayuda a los países en desarrollo a recaudar los impuestos que les corresponde pagar a las empresas multinacionales, gracias a la convergencia de países que se prestan asistencia mutua para desarrollar su capacidad de auditoría tributaria.

En la actualidad, estamos enfrentando una crisis sanitaria y económica mundial aún mayor, que tendrá importantísimas consecuencias sobre la vida y los medios de subsistencia. El fuerte descenso del comercio mundial e interno está provocando una caída equivalente en los ingresos fiscales, que golpea con dureza a los países más pobres, dada su dependencia del impuesto sobre sociedades. Los países que dependen fuertemente del turismo, la industria hotelera y las remesas procedentes del extranjero sufrirán la peor parte.

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Inspecteurs des Impôts sans frontières : aider les pays en développement à se relever de la crise du COVID-19

M. Pascal Saint-Amans, Directeur du Centre de politique et d’administration fiscales


Ce blog fait partie d’une série sur la lutte contre le COVID-19 dans les pays en voie de développement. Visitez la page dédiée de l’OCDE pour accéder aux données, analyses et recommandations de l’OCDE sur les impacts sanitaires, économiques, financiers et sociétaux de COVID-19 dans le monde.


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Au lendemain de la crise financière de 2008, les États ont uni leurs forces, décidés à lutter pour la transparence fiscale et à entamer la lutte contre l’érosion de la base d’imposition et le transfert de bénéfices. Cette crise a également été à l’origine de l’Initiative Inspecteurs des Impôts sans Frontières (IISF), devenue un projet conjoint de l’OCDE et du PNUD lors de la Conférence d’Addis-Abeba sur le financement du développement. L’Initiative IISF a vocation à aider les pays en développement à percevoir les impôts dus par les entreprises multinationales en permettant aux pays participants de se prêter mutuellement assistance au service du renforcement des capacités en matière de vérification fiscale.

Nous faisons à présent face à une crise sanitaire et économique mondiale plus grave encore, dont les conséquences sur nos vies et nos moyens de subsistance sont profondes. L’effondrement brutal du commerce et des échanges nationaux et internationaux entraîne une chute proportionnelle des recettes fiscales, qui porte un coup particulièrement rude aux pays pauvres du fait qu’ils sont tributaires des impôts sur les bénéfices des sociétés. Ceux qui dépendent fortement du tourisme, de l’hôtellerie et des envois de fonds de leur diaspora sont ceux qui risquent de pâtir le plus de la situation.

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Tax Inspectors Without Borders: ready to assist developing countries recover from COVID-19

By Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of the Centre for Tax Policy and Administration


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, governments came together to fight for tax transparency and begin the battle against base erosion and profit shifting. It was that crisis that also inspired Tax Inspectors Without Borders (TIWB), which became a joint initiative of the OECD and UNDP at the Addis Finance for Development conference. The initiative helps developing countries to collect the taxes due from multinational enterprises, with countries coming together to assist each other in building tax audit capacity.

We now face an even greater global health and economic crisis, with profound implications for lives and livelihoods. The sharp decline in global and domestic trade and commerce is leading to a commensurate drop in tax revenues, hitting poorer countries hardest due to their reliance on corporate income taxes. Those that depend heavily on tourism, hospitality and remittances from their diaspora may suffer the worst.

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We need a more globalised response to pandemics for immigrant integration

By Tahseen Shams, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that what happens in a faraway land does not stop at its borders but can produce domino effects forceful enough to lock down the entire world. How have we as a globalised society responded to this moment with regards to immigrant integration?

Not well. Immigrants, long singled-out as disease carriers, are again being blamed for the world’s epidemic. Because the Coronavirus originated in China, xenophobia has now turned its gaze on those perceived as Asian immigrants. Pre-existing anti-Chinese racism, for instance, has spiked in the United States even though the virus that led to the outbreak in New York, which has the largest U.S. death toll, came from Europe. Anti-immigrant xenophobia has risen in general despite immigrants comprising the bulk of our essential workforce. Right-wing advocates, based on what could only be described as poorly disguised racism, are using the pandemic as evidence of the dangers of immigration. Their fearmongering taps into the public’s fears and suspicion towards “foreigners”—a label that never seems to detach itself from immigrants and their descendants. Social media, fake news, and political discourse are also helping to depict immigrants as foreigners who bring dangers from faraway lands into our country.

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African narratives vs. African development strategy

Carlos Lopes and Alan Hirsch, Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, University of Cape Town


This blog is part of a thread that aims to challenge existing narratives about Africa and its development.

Africa’s positioning in the global scene is seldom immune to controversy. The numerous debates about Africa’s true size and developmental successes can deflect Africans and potential partners from a coherent continental development strategy.

Despite its landmass of 30 million square kilometres, the commonly used Mercator projection maps Africa’s size to be equal to Greenland’s, which is fourteen times smaller. That such a depiction is popularised even by Google Earth shows the endurance of certain perceptions. Moreover, contemporary afro-pessimism is rooted in history and is not limited to the injustices of modern-day cartography or the erroneous views portrayed in contemporary literature. It is about risk perceptions, levels of conflict, political instability, and the variety of economic experiments. Many continue to identify Africa as uniformly beset by conflict, crisis, bad governance, and a risky place for making investments.

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Strengthening the climate resilience of cities through cross-border co-operation

By Richard Clarke, Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat (SWAC/OECD)

The southern nations of West Africa are beginning to experience the second and shorter of their rainy seasons, whilst those countries further north are seeing the end of theirs. For many the happiness of seeing these rains is mixed with anxieties from memories past and current realities. Exceptionally heavy seasonal rainfall in 2007, 2009, 2013 and 2017 saw several major rivers break their banks, causing destruction of houses, bridges, roads and crops, wrecking livelihoods and displacing vast swathes of the population.

In recent weeks, floods have severely hit parts of Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger and Nigeria, leading to the death of at least 107 people and affecting hundreds of thousands. In Senegal, a state of emergency has been declared following heavy rainfalls and the death of four citizens, while in Chad nearly 200,000 people have been affected. Yet again, the urgent need for immediate action to mitigate and alleviate the effects of climate change has been exposed.

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