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.

Continue reading

Why we need Global Public Investment after COVID-19

By Simon Reid-Henry, Reader in Geography and Director, Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, Queen Mary University of London


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.


business-sustainabilityThe COVID-19 response has highlighted the international need for an ongoing pool of public money and explains how Global Public Investment (GPI) would work.

It has been heartening this June to watch the latest Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance) pledging round raise US$8.8 billion, partly in response to COVID-19. It would be more heartening if we didn’t have to live on tenterhooks always, unsure if the goodwill to meet this or that international need will eventually be found. Or whether, as with the US’ denial of contributions to the World Health Organization, it might even be withdrawn.

What is Global Public Investment?

This is the idea behind Global Public Investment (GPI): a system of fixed and multi-directional international fiscal allocations. Think of it as a way of funding global public goods, like a COVID-19 vaccine, or of meeting already agreed international commitments like the Sustainable Development Goals. Either way, GPI would fill a modest but important niche by providing a common pool of public money internationally. Continue reading

How COVID-19 can change incentives for development co-operation

By Nilima Gulrajani, Senior Research Fellow, ODI


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.


cooperation-hands-puzzle-world-2There is nothing new in accusing bilateral donors of repurposing foreign aid to serve their domestic national interests. Even before the current pandemic, donors had been slashing aid in exchange for middle-class tax breaks, twisting the definition of official development assistance (ODA) to allow for the inclusion of expenditures in wealthier countries, and tying aid to the uptake of domestic consultants. So, what happens now, as economic and social needs expand globally with every case of COVID-19 detected and every grave marked?

The initial vital signs of international collective action are not promising. Some politicians have come under flak for donating personal protective equipment to other countries just before domestic demand skyrocketed, even if this equipment was set to expire and the favour returned in kind. Others stand accused of using medical aid to further diplomatic ambitions. Yet others have gone even further, seemingly keen to upend global co-operation and dismantle the very institutional architecture able to marshal both the transnational networks and political leadership required to detect, monitor and eventually stop this unpredictable pathogen. In short, there are worrying signs about the possibility of upholding a functioning multilateral co-operation system, even among supposedly like-minded actors. Continue reading

Build back better with risk-informed development co-operation

By Navid Hanif, Director, Financing for Sustainable Development Office, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs


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.


36813878060_caf83ee6b4_c
Photo: Victor Balaban

Covid-19 is endangering lives and livelihoods, with devastating effects on the poorest and most vulnerable people. The full effects of this global pandemic are still unfolding and uncertainty remains high. Yet the impacts on our societies, economies and ecosystems will surely be felt for years to come. Now is not the time to turn away from international development co-operation. In fact, Covid-19 has graphically reinforced the need for global co-operation and collaboration, both for immediate response and for longer-term recovery. Advancing development co-operation that is both risk-informed and climate-smart will be a vital plank in the efforts to build back better.

The world was already falling behind in efforts to eradicate poverty, reduce inequalities and take climate action. Based on pre-crisis data, the 2020 Financing for Sustainable Development Report of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development estimated that one in five countries – representing billions of people – were likely to see average income per person stagnate or decline in 2020. Many more will likely struggle as the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic hit and test countries’ resilience. Continue reading

COVID-19: Make health systems a global public good

By Milindo Chakrabarti, Professor, O.P. Jindal Global University and Visiting Fellow, Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS)


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*.



health-systemPandemics are always unpredictable and, unlike natural disasters that are mostly localised, they affect countries across the globe. Within a span of less than five months, millions have been affected by COVID-19 and thousands have perished. It has taken its toll across countries irrespective of their levels of income. To more effectively prevent and fight pandemics, we must shift from a national approach to health services to investing in health as a truly global public good. This will require action on pandemic insurance, on the development of pandemic-related infrastructure, and on intellectual property rights.

COVID-19: a crisis beyond income levels

The World Bank categorizes countries in terms of their per capita income. There are 80 High Income Countries, 60 Upper Middle Income Countries, 47 Lower Middle Income Countries and 31 Low Income Countries. These four categories are often used as a proxy for a country’s overall level of development. Has COVID-19 infection and mortality rates correlated with the level of income? Continue reading

COVID-19 and the future of international co-operation: consolidating a new approach

By Annalisa Prizzon, Senior Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute (ODI)


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.


BWO_038

At the time of writing this blog in early April 2020, we didn’t really know how deep and long-lasting the economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 crisis would be. Despite these uncertainties, I would argue that aid commitments should be scaled up despite the challenges ahead for aid budgets, more flexible instruments should be considered and that the coronavirus crisis will fast-track the transformation of traditional donor–recipient aid relations to a model of international co-operation between all countries. Continue reading

COVID-19 : Il est temps d’investir dans la santé des plus pauvres du monde

Par Christoph Benn, Directeur, Global Health Diplomacy, Joep Lange Institute


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.


funding-health-financing

(Read this blog in English)

La crise sanitaire sans précédent que représente le Covid-19 pour le monde requiert une réponse mondiale, elle aussi, sans précédent. De nombreux pays riches ont annoncé d’importants plans de sauvetage et de relance pour maintenir leurs économies à flot. Mais alors que la pandémie se déploie en Afrique, en Asie du Sud et en Amérique latine, la communauté mondiale doit maintenant renforcer sa solidarité avec les communautés les plus vulnérables et réfléchir aux instruments les mieux adaptés pour répondre à cette crise globale. Il est désormais temps d’investir dans la santé des personnes les plus pauvres de notre planète à travers des mécanismes mondiaux qui nous protègent tous et auxquels tous les pays contribueraient selon leurs capacités.

Continue reading

COVID-19: It’s time to invest in the health of the world’s poorest people

By Christoph Benn, Director, Global Health Diplomacy, Joep Lange Institute


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.


funding-health-financing(Lire ce blog en français)

Covid-19 presents an unprecedented health crisis for the world that requires unprecedented responses. Many rich countries have announced huge bail-out and stimulus packages to keep their economies afloat. But as the pandemic now unfolds in Africa, South Asia and Latin America, the global community needs to step up its solidarity with the most vulnerable communities and consider which instruments are best suited to address this global emergency. Now is the time to invest in the health of the poorest people around the world through global mechanisms that serve us all and in which all countries contribute according to their ability. Continue reading

Covid-19: time to unleash the power of international co-operation

BannerWeb1122_DiT_EN_with logo DEV

By Mario Pezzini, Director, OECD Development Centre and Special Advisor to the OECD Secretary General on Development


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 rapid spread of the dire human, social and economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis shows just how interconnected we are. International co-operation has become –literally– vital.

A health crisis has set off a global economic crisis, where shocks on the demand and supply sides are combining in an unprecedented scenario. Many developing countries are bracing themselves. While Europe is struggling to contain and cope with a spiralling number of cases and fatalities, the effects in countries where health systems are already weak, economies are highly dependent on global demand, and strict containment policies are more difficult to implement, could be even more disastrous.

Major outbreaks in developing countries could cause the collapse of weak health systems and expose gaps in social protection programmes, especially in Africa, where so many schemes rely on official development assistance. A humanitarian crisis may be in the making: travel restrictions affect the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and infections in refugee camps – largely hosted in developing countries – will be difficult to fight. The ILO estimates that 25 million jobs could be lost worldwide, possibly more, as the majority of workers in developing countries are in the informal economy. Continue reading