By Haje Schütte, Senior Counsellor and Head, Financing for Sustainable Development Division, Development Co-operation Directorate, OECD
When scientists announced the discovery of a Covid-19 vaccine, the world sighed with relief. But soon after, many people around the globe discovered that others would get access to jabs faster than them. The sad term ‘vaccine inequality’ was coined. Only 6% of people are fully vaccinated in low-income countries today. In a bid to fill the gaps and curb the pandemic, there were calls for high-income countries to share and donate vaccine doses to developing countries, in particular through the COVAX Facility – the multilateral mechanism for providing developing countries with vaccines.
By Simon Scott, Counsellor, OECD Statistics Directorate
In 1963 John Pincus of the RAND Corporation suggested redefining aid to reduce all forms of aid to their value as grant or subsidy, and in 2014 the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) agreed to his suggestion. (See an earlier post about this evolution.)
Of course, in the meantime, DAC members had not just been sitting around for 51 years. In 1969 they used Pincus’ “grant equivalent” method in a Recommendation to soften the terms of aid, and in 1972 they used it again to decide which loans were soft enough to count as official development assistance. The World Bank and the IMF also used the method in measures to keep the lid on developing countries’ debt, and the Paris Club used it to equalise creditors’ efforts under different debt relief options.
Yet one potential use of grant equivalents has been thoroughly neglected. Ironically it was the very application of the method that was most discussed 50 years ago, namely its potential to ensure the most efficient use of aid funds.
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.”
The idea of using official development assistance (ODA) to leverage private finance is a staple of the financing for development circuit and features heavily in most donors’ strategies. Experienced financiers both from official sector development finance institutions (DFIs) and private investors are, however, still feeling their way into this field’s unfamiliar territory. DFIs for the most part emphasise the importance of providing finance on non-concessional terms to avoid distorting markets and crowding-out other sources of finance. Though some standard elements of their business could fall under the rubric of blended finance, such as grant-funded technical assistance, for the most part DFIs and development banks have treated explicit subsidies to private enterprises as dangerous medicine to be prescribed rarely. Now the pressure is mounting to find more creative ways to leverage private finance using ODA. But how?
By Judith Karl, Executive Secretary of UNCDF, and Samuel Choritz, Policy Adviser at UNCDF
To meet the SDGs with their emphasis on leaving no one behind, we need solutions that tackle persistent exclusions and inequalities in the local economies and communities where the poor live and work. Targeting the last mile means adapting solutions to the households, localities and small enterprises that are underserved, where development needs are greatest and where resources are scarcest.
Addressing market failures by making finance work for the poor is a critical catalyser to this end. Official Development Assistance (ODA) can be the largest source of external finance in least-developed countries, where private investment often favours commodity and real estate sectors. Disparities in incomes and living standards show that location matters more for living standards in developing countries than it does in developed ones . “Last mile finance” models can use public resources — such as ODA — to de-risk and crowd-in public and private finance, especially from domestic sources, to create virtuous dynamics of inclusion, local growth, resilience, and productive investment. Continue reading “Reaching the last mile: The role of innovative finance in meeting the SDGs”
There will never be enough development aid to solve all the problems in the poorest countries. If we are to lift the last 800 million people out of extreme poverty we will need to find new ways to mobilize resources beyond the traditional assistance from wealthy governments in the form of loans, grants and other concessions.
Government assistance remains vital. The billions of dollars donor countries pour into developing countries every year are critical both in terms of actual aid and as a catalyst for mobilizing private sector funds and underpinning the efforts of developing country governments and civil society. Yet there is a consensus that the role of development aid must adapt to changes in the geography of poverty and to the new lens of the Sustainable Development Goals.
By Andrea Vignolo, Executive Director of the Uruguayan Agency for International Cooperation, and Karen Van Rompaey, Knowledge Manager of the Uruguayan Agency for International Cooperation. This blog is part of an ongoing series evaluating various facets of Development in Transition. The 2019 “Perspectives on Global Development” on “Rethinking Development Strategies” will add to this discussion Discussions on the post-2015 development agenda have paved the way to new thinking about development as … Continue reading Revising ODA in the era of SDGs