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[i]


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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The G20 and the failure of policy coordination during COVID-19

By Paola Subacchi, Professor of International Economics at Queen Mary University of London’s Global Policy Institute, is the author, most recently of The Cost of Free Money (Yale University Press, 2020)


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.


covid-19-coordination-g20When a crisis strikes, it is a time to be bold and do whatever it takes to avoid the worst. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic so far has been surprisingly bold at the national level, but at the international level, it has been disappointing to say the least. The G20 – the “premier forum for international economic co-operation” – has played no significant role in this crisis, or at least not one comparable to the role it played during the global financial crisis. Unlike in 2008, when it led the multilateral policy response, the G20 has attempted neither to coordinate the fiscal response nor to ensure that robust and broad multilateral financial safety nets are in place. It is arguable whether the nature of the current crisis requires the same deployment of financial resources as when the banking and financial systems in many countries seized up. However, the IMF and the World Bank have beefed up their resources to an unprecedented $1 trillion of loans and non-conditional credit lines to help developing countries. The G20, in turn, has agreed on temporary debt relief for low-income countries, but limited the suspension to one year. So far just $5.3 billion in bilateral debt repayments have been suspended, against an expected $11.5 billion – clearly this initiative has fallen short in ambition and scope. Continue reading

COVID-19: super-accelerator or game-changer for international (development) co-operation?

By Stephan Klingebiel, Director of UNDP’s Global Policy Centre in Seoul, Republic of Korea and Artemy Izmestiev, Policy Specialist, UNDP’s Global Policy Centre in Seoul, Republic of Korea


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.


development-co-operationThe outbreak of COVID-19 as a global health emergency and the resulting socio-economic crisis is testing global structures of co-operation. The challenges are giving rise to new forms and expressions of transnational solidarity. In an article on COVID-19, “We will come through this together”, the UN Secretary-General reminds us that no country can tackle this issue alone and co-operation is crucial for addressing existing challenges. In April 2020, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Seoul Policy Centre held a series of webinar discussions where think tanks around the world presented their views on what to expect in the area of international (development) co-operation after the pandemic. This blog post, while not intending to represent the views either of our panellists or of UNDP, is informed by those discussions.

We expect that the current global crisis will significantly impact the future framing of development co-operation. As the crisis acquires global dimensions, the provision and support of global public goods seems to become more and more central. Is this a new narrative for development co-operation, particularly with international co-operation budgets coming under increasing pressure in developed countries? Continue reading

The coming of age of triangular co-operation

By Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director of the Development Co-operation Directorate, OECD, and Jorge Chediek, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for South-South Co-operation and Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC)

traingular event webpage imageTriangular co-operation is when actors from both developing and developed countries come together, often with international organisations, civil society and private sector partners, to deliver innovative and co-created development solutions. A niche issue for many years, it is now taking centre stage in the global discourse.

2019: the turning point

No country is too economically poor to help and share experiences, and none is too rich to learn from others. That is the idea behind triangular co-operation that came into the global spotlight in 2019 at the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Co-operation, commonly known as BAPA+40. Some forty years after the original Buenos Aires Plan of Action (BAPA) was agreed in 1978, the importance of triangular co-operation was explicitly acknowledged in the BAPA+40 Outcome Document as a way to strengthen South-South and North-South co-operation. The consensus amongst participants, regardless of their level of development, was that triangular co-operation enables countries to access more and a broader range of resources, expertise and capacities to achieve national and internationally agreed sustainable development goals. Continue reading