Development is a vast, complex, and technical area of global governance. Long dominated by a few Western governments, the development arena now comprises more and different kinds of actors, including the private sector, civil society, and non-Western governments. The economic success of emerging economies demonstrates that poor countries can achieve a growth path. However, the gap is growing between these successes and countries sliding further into poverty, instability, and violence.
Clearly, there is no panacea for fostering development and opinions on how to move forward have become highly polarized. One side calls for more – and more effective – aid to help especially fragile countries get out of the poverty trap. Critics on the other side question the impact of development aid. Some even call for its end.
The traditional tools of aid alone are unable to address development challenges. In our work, we review aid instruments to make them more effective and innovative and promote development policies that go “beyond aid.” Currently, we address three main approaches: (1) multi-stakeholder partnerships, (2) negotiations of pro-poor trade policies, and (3) development in fragile contexts.
When governments agreed on the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, the idea that fair and sustainable development needs governments, business and civil society players to act in concert gained traction. Multi-stakeholder partnerships promised solutions where governments had failed. Indeed, there has been progress. The GAVI Alliance, for example, has made basic vaccinations available in almost all countries while also helping to develop new vaccinations. But partnerships need to be carefully designed to be effective. In over 25 research and advisory projects, we have found that three conditions are most important: an alignment of strategic interests among all partners; political backing and operational capacity within their organizations; and transparency to ensure accountability.
While the private sector is often a part of the problem, it also must be a part of the solution. We remain committed to providing sober analysis and advice on when and how to partner with business for achieving development goals.
Negotiating Pro-poor Trade Policies
China, India and Brazil have shown that trade has an enormous potential for economic development. That said, the gains from trade are not distributed equally – and it is often the poor that miss out, both within and across countries. The geographical dispersion and international expansion of production chains continue to sideline the interests of least developed countries. The fastest growth, for example, is in trade within large, multinational corporations. This offers few economic benefits to those who are not part of global value chains. Least developed countries also have little say when global rules for trade are negotiated.
As a result, a set of pressing questions arises about the role of trade for development that we plan to address. How do intergovernmental organizations such as the World Trade Organization respond to the changing global landscape? What norms evolve in response to the growing demand to govern and regulate new issues like trade facilitation? What is the likely effect on trade relations with least developed countries? Are visions of a “pro-poor” trade policy converging or diverging between different actors?
Development in Fragile Contexts
Extreme poverty is increasingly concentrated in countries that fail to guarantee basic security and the rule of law, or to provide basic services to their citizens. There are therefore calls for aid to focus more on such fragile contexts. However, it is often difficult to use classical development tools in contexts with violence, poverty and volatile relations between the state, society and business. Under these circumstances, understanding how development links to security and vice-versa is critical.
We do not believe that the concepts of “fragility” and “stabilization” are useful when applied as blueprints for informing development and security policies. Governments should think about their engagement in fragile contexts as high-risk investments that need a good analysis of the local political, social and economic dimensions of fragility. More practically, we have convened discussions with civil society organizations – both African and transatlantic, to define common positions on some of the most pressing issues in global development and to promote the value of civil society for effective policymaking.
Funding & Clients
Our funders and clients include the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the German Federal Foreign Office (AA), the United Nations Global Compact, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the European Commission and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.
by Wade Hoxtell
by Wade Hoxtell
by African Civil Society Circle
GPPi & Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung
by Todd Williamson
by Clara Weinhardt, Fabian Bohnenberger
Development and Cooperation (D+C)
by Clara Weinhardt
Journal of Trust Research, 5 (1)
by Fabian Bohnenberger, Clara Weinhardt
Le Monde diplomatique
by Clara Weinhardt
International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development