Making aid RANDy

By Simon Scott, Counsellor, OECD Statistics Directorate

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Entrance to the RAND headquarters in Santa Monica in 1968 (photo courtesy of the RAND Corporation)

It was the go-to think tank for the US Department of Defense during the Cold War. It was where Nathan Leites deciphered The Operational Code of the Politburo and Paul Baran conceived the “hot potato routing” system that would lead to the Internet.

But the RAND Corporation, spun off from an Air Force project with the Douglas Aircraft company to do Research ANd Development on intercontinental warfare, was active across the whole field of international relations. And at the height of East-West tensions during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, DoD contract number ARPA/SD-79 had it investigating … a better way to measure foreign aid.

Up until that time, all official flows from rich to poor countries had been summed up indiscriminately, whether they were grants or loans, and whether or not they targeted development. John Pincus of RAND came up with a new idea – get rid of the non-developmental aspects and “reformulate the definition of aid [so that] all forms of aid are reduced to their value as grant or subsidy.”

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Wanted: mechanism for additionality

By Paddy Carter, Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute

development-financeAdditionality is the thorn in the side of Development Finance Institutions (DFIs). It means: making an investment happen that would not have otherwise. Of course, everybody in development wants to make things happen that would not otherwise, and the possibility that aid substitutes for domestic efforts is a concern in other contexts. But additionality torments DFIs because of the constant suspicion that they crowd out private financiers by investing in products that would have been viable without public support.

DFIs are regularly called upon to provide rigorous evidence that their investments are additional. Rigorous quantitative evidence, in the eyes of academics, requires some credible method of estimating the counterfactual (what would have happened otherwise). And that requires something like a randomised control trial or a natural experiment or a valid instrumental variable. Yet, none of these is feasible in the world of DFIs. And without that, we are unable to distinguish correlation from causation.
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Aid rising in 2016: No room for complacency

Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Chair, OECD Development Assistance Committee
Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, Development Co-operation Directorate, OECD

oda generic 22015 was a year of big promises: eradication of global poverty, delivery of more effective development finance and calls for resolute action against climate change, all for a better world by 2030. But with growing concerns about inequalities at home, and rising protectionism and unilateralism abroad, the last few months cast some doubts about whether OECD countries still firmly stand behind their commitments.

The latest OECD figures on international aid are reassuring: 2016 preliminary data on Official Development Assistance (ODA) provided by OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) countries reveals yet another increase in aid volumes, reaching the highest levels on record. This is an 8.9% increase in real terms. Indeed, since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, ODA volumes have more than doubled. It is also positive to note that support to multilateral agencies has increased, reflecting the vital role played by multilateral aid in responding to the global challenges that require collective responsibility.

Yet, there is no room for complacency. A closer scrutiny of the increases reveals that humanitarian appeals and response plans remain consistently underfunded, with only 60% of global humanitarian appeals funded in 2016. Inadequate resources are being over-stretched to cover a larger diversity of needs and greater instances of crisis. Continue reading

Broadening financing options for infrastructure in Emerging Asia

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By Kensuke Tanaka, Head of Asia Desk, and Prasiwi Ibrahim, Economist at Asia Desk, OECD Development Centre 


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
1st International Economic Forum on Asia
Register today to attend on 14 April 2017!


Kensuke-Prasiwi-AsiaForumAgreeing on the need for new infrastructure is one thing; finding a sustainable way to finance it is another. According to the ADB, an estimated USD 26 trillion (or USD 1.7 trillion per year) will need to be invested in infrastructure in its developing member countries1  between 2016 and 2030 if these economies are to maintain their growth momentum, eradicate poverty and respond to climate change2  .Given the scale of investment needed, countries in the region will not have sufficient funds to meet demand. Indeed, financing infrastructure investment has been a considerable challenge for the region. Political factors can further complicate financing when they lead to the inefficient allocation of public funds. How best to finance infrastructure is, therefore, a key concern for policy makers in the region.
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Unlocking the potential of SMEs for the SDGs

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By Lamia Kamal-Chaoui, Director, Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs and Local Development


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
Global Forum on Development on 5 April 2017
Register today to attend


SMEs-Dev-MattersA universal definition of small – and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) does not exist. What is generally undisputed, however, is the fact that the overwhelming majority of private-sector businesses in the world are SMEs and that SMEs account for a very large share of world economic activity in both developed and developing countries.

Look at the data. In the OECD countries where SME definitions are comparable, the contribution of SMEs to national employment ranges between 53% in the United Kingdom to 86% in Greece. The contribution of SMEs to national value-added 1 is between 38% in Mexico and 75% in Estonia. The SME share of economic activity is typically larger in OECD economies than in emerging-market economies, reflecting a mix of stronger SME productivity levels in the former and higher rates of economic informality in the latter. In emerging-market economies, SMEs are responsible for up to 45% of jobs and up to 33% of national GDP. These numbers are significantly higher when informal businesses, which are often more than half of the total enterprise population, are included in the count. Some estimates suggest that when the informal sector is included, SMEs in emerging-market economies account for 90% of total employment.
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The Global Goals’ Business Opportunity in Africa

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By Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, Chair, Business & Sustainable Development Commission, former UNDP Administrator and Ex-UN Deputy Secretary-General, and UK Minister of State for Africa, Asia and the United Nations


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
Global Forum on Development on 5 April 2017.
Register today to attend!


Lord-Mark-Malloch-BrownA critical transition from a heavy reliance on international public development finance to locally generated private sector solutions to development problems is underway. Earlier this year, the Business & Sustainable Development Commission launched its flagship report, Better Business, Better World, which makes the case for why the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer the private sector a growth strategy that opens new market value and helps solve significant social and environmental challenges at the same time. The Commission shows how sustainable business models could unlock economic opportunities across 60 “hot spots” worth up to USD 12 trillion and increase employment by up to 380 million jobs by 2030. In Africa alone, sustainable business models could open up an economic prize of at least USD 1.1 trillion and create over 85 million new jobs by 2030.
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Blended Finance: Critical steps to ensure success of the Sustainable Development Goals

By Chris Clubb, Managing Director, New Products and Knowledge, Convergence

blended-investmentThe facts are known. Official Development Assistance (ODA) from member countries of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) will not grow at the rate necessary to fully deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Blended finance, defined as the strategic use of official (public) funds to mobilise private sector investment for emerging and frontier economies [1] , is recognised as an important tool within the development toolbox to mobilise new capital sources to achieve the SDGs. Through blended finance, public funds can target a risk that the private sector is unwilling or unable to take. It also can be used to improve the risk-return profile of an investment to an acceptable level for the private sector. What all this does is attract much-needed private sector investment and know-how to projects.
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