Noteworthy News – 4.30

This weekly posting includes key news stories and opinion pieces related to foreign assistance reform and broader global development issues.

  • World Bank gets help from sovereign wealth funds to invest in developing nations (Washington Post, April 18) As the World Bank tries to rebuild after a global economic crisis that arguably boosted its reputation but left it strapped financially, the agency will get support from a new quarter: sovereign wealth funds.  “Five or 10 years from now, people will look and say, ‘That was really big,’ ” Zoellick said of the new program. “Under any circumstance, the World Bank is still a small player in international finance. We need to leverage ourselves not only in financial terms but in policy terms that will draw private capital.”
  • A superpower us uses its power for good (Financial Times UK, April 28) “John F Kennedy created this agency in 1961 in the context of the New Frontier to inspire hope, opportunity, and a chance to lead better lives by partnering with our country,” he says. “This is the first administration in a long time that’s elevating development to the same level as diplomacy and defence as part of our foreign policy.  USAid should be a “mixing pot” of people with backgrounds in banking, health, education, engineering, energy, and consulting, so the agency can “incorporate best practices” from industry into its operations, he says.
  • Thursday, Bloody Thursday: Bono calls out senator over aid cuts (FP Blog-Josh Rogin, April 29) “What I think General Jones, Secretaries Gates and Clinton, Senator McCain and others are getting at is that somehow these worlds — defense and development — are inextricably linked. They’re not the same thing; they’re very different, in fact; but they’re linked, and we need to see them as part of the same picture. They’re both essential if we really want to build a world that’s more secure, more prosperous, and more just.”
  • Don’t Panic, Go Organic ( Lappé, April 29) In the most comprehensive analysis of world agriculture to date, several U.N. agencies and the World Bank engaged more than 400 scientists and development experts from 80 countries over four years to produce the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science, and Technology for Development (IAASTD). The conclusion? Our “reliance on resource-extractive industrial agriculture is risky and unsustainable, particularly in the face of worsening climate, energy, and water crises,” said Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, a lead author on the report.
  • A New Approach to Aid (The New York Times-Nicholas Kristof, April 29) A new book from the Center of Global Development in Washington by Nancy Birdsall and William Savedoff suggests a novel approach to address some of aid’s shortcomings, and I think it’s worth experimenting with. The book is called “Cash on Delivery: A New Approach to Foreign Aid.” The idea is to pay poor countries not for inputs but for outcomes. Aid money wouldn’t be used to cover expenses, but would be paid out only if a country performed by raising certain benchmarks.

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