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Philippe Orliange; Ana Flávia Granja e Barros
From Monterrey to Addis Ababa
and beyond: a new global
framework for public finance for
sustainable development?
De Monterrey a Addis Abeba e além:
um novo quadro para o financiamento
para o desenvolvimento sustentável?
DOI: 10.21530/ci.v15n3.2020.1046
Philippe Orliange
Ana Flávia Granja e Barros
How did the global framework for financing sustainable development
evolve in the past ten years? We argue that its evolution is deeply
connected to multilateral initiatives such as the Monterrey consensus,
the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals
and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Therefore, the year 2015
may be considered as a landmark. In this vein, we identified five key
changes that affect the global framework for financing development
worldwide, showing how traditional international cooperation
mechanisms coexist with new ones. They are discussed in the following
order: the evolution of global development agendas; systemic power
relations and financial flows; the institutional entrepreneurship of
emerging powers; the increased role of development banks; and
1 Diplomata Francês. Diretor Regional da Agência Francesa para o Desenvolvimento
(AFD) para o Brasil e Argentina. Brasília, Brasil.
2 Doutora em Relações Internacionais pela Université Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne.
Professora Associada no Instituto de Relações Internacionais, Universidade de
Brasília, Brasília, Brasil.
Artigo submetido em 08/02/2020 e aprovado em 07/07/2020.
• This is an open-access
article distributed under
the terms of a Creative
Commons Attribution
License, which permits
unrestricted use,
distribution, and
reproduction in any
medium, provided that
the original author and
source are credited.
• Este é um artigo
publicado em acesso aberto
e distribuído sob os termos
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Creative Commons,
que permite uso irrestrito,
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From Monterrey to Addis Ababa and beyond: a new global framework for public finance [...]
from official development aid (ODA) to international public finance. Under the United
Nations auspices or not, middle-income countries started to play a bigger role in financing
mechanisms. Likewise, some national development banks became more important and
started to act more closely under the International Development Finance Club (IDFC)
auspices. Brazil, Colombia and South Africa are mentioned as cases for future research.
Keywords: Development Banks; Public Finance; Sustainable Development; Middle-Income
O quadro global de financiamento do desenvolvimento sustentável é profundamente
conectado por iniciativas multilaterais como as do Consenso de Monterrey, a Agenda de
Ação de Addis Abeba, os Objetivos de Desenvolvimento Sustentável e o Acordo de Paris
sobre mudança do clima. Assim, o ano de 2015 pode ser considerado como um referencial no
tema. Neste sentido, o texto identifica cinco grandes mudanças que afetam o quadro global
para o financiamento do desenvolvimento mundo afora, demonstrando como mecanismos
tradicionais de cooperação internacional coexistem com mecanismos novos. Eles são
discutidos na seguinte ordem: a evolução das agendas globais de desenvolvimento; relações
sistêmicas de poder e fluxos financeiros; entrepreneurship institucional das potências
emergentes e o papel crescente de bancos de desenvolvimento; e a evolução da assistência
oficial ao desenvolvimento para os financiamentos internacionais públicos. Sob a égide das
Nações Unidas ou não, países de renda média aumentaram o seu papel nos mecanismos
de financiamento global. Além disso, bancos de desenvolvimento de países como Brasil,
Colômbia e África do Sul tornaram-se mais relevantes e mais próximos atuando no âmbito
do Clube Internacional de Financiadores do Desenvolvimento (IDFC).
Palavras-chave: Bancos de Desenvolvimento; Finanças Públicas; Desenvolvimento
Sustentável; Países de Renda Média.
Since the 2002 Monterrey meeting, the global development agenda was
profoundly reshaped. There were significant changes in the global agendas (Kannie
and Biermann 2017; Biscop 2019; Khanna 2019) which are discussed below.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 has brought new issues to the global development
agenda, that calls for in depth research in the near future. From an institutional
viewpoint, these changes were marked by international institutional bypasses
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Philippe Orliange; Ana Flávia Granja e Barros
(Prado and Trebilcock 2019), that is, “a bypass offers an alternative to the dominant
institution. This means that public and private institutions can be operating side
by side without one being a bypass of the other” (Prado, 2019). Moreover, the
same concept may be useful for assessing BRICS countries’ agenda (Stuenkel
2019) and the global framework for public finance for sustainable development
(FSDR 2019; Chimhowu et al 2019).
In this scenario, middle-income countries (MIC) (Saad Filho 2004; Gu et al
2016) and development banks may be considered increasingly important actors
(Ferraz et al 2013; Ferraz and Countinho 2019; Orliange 2020). However, initiatives
for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within the UN 2030
Agenda and the Objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change are still
underfunded, from public and private, domestic and international perspectives
(Kannie and Biermann 2017; Lee 2019; FSDR 2019; Chimhowu et al 2019;
Guterrez 2019; Soares and Inoue 2020). In addition, each source of financing brings
impacts to the others, and international public finance encompasses much more
than official development assistance (ODA) (FSDR 2019). Providing ODA was
and still is the mission of aid agencies. Providing public finance, making up for
market failures, taking risks others will not take, is the mission of development
banks (DB). However, domestic or regional development banks are not new
actors (Ferraz et al 2013; Orliange 2020). Many of them have been operating for
decades (and some even for centuries), but the new global framework for public
finance for sustainable development referred to above gives them an increased
relevance (Ferraz and Countinho 2019; Orliange 2020). In other words, there
were tectonic changes in the framework of development financing in the past
ten years.
This article aims at assessing agendas and institutions in order to answer
the following question: how did the global framework for public financing for
sustainable development evolve? Recently, the development agenda evolved from
the 2000 United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the 2015
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Naturally, both of them are connected
to the Action21 adopted in Rio in 1992, as well as to the Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and United Nations (UN)
broader debates. Taking the 2030 agenda (SDGs) as the starting point of this
analysis, we discuss five key changes in the framework for public finance for
sustainable development. The first one concerns the evolution of development
agendas since 1992, while the second one corresponds to the systemic power
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From Monterrey to Addis Ababa and beyond: a new global framework for public finance [...]
diffusion to Asia. The third change is the institutional entrepreneurship of
emerging powers, thus contributing to the increased role of development banks
as a fourth trend. The fifth relates to the international public finance framework
as a result of the other previous changes.
The evolution of global development agendas
From Monterrey to Addis Ababa, the agendas evolved significantly in terms
of the UN traditional cleavage between developing and developed countries.
Emerging economies or middle-income countries (regardless of the debates
about the categories) can no longer be defined as those receiving development
finance. They have become providers of development finance in the recent past.
In other terms, China and India, despite not having a high human development
index (HDI) have a demonstrated capacity to provide development finance. Brazil
had also been in that position in the 2010s, even though its capacity has been
severely reduced in recent years.
After the adoption of the 2000 Millennium Development Goals by the UN
General Assembly (UNGA), the Monterrey 1
international conference on financing
for development took place in March 2002. At that meeting, the international
consensus on development was revisited. Inspired by a North-South viewpoint,
the Monterrey declaration stated in its first paragraph that the aim was “to address
the challenges of financing for development around the world, particularly in
developing countries. Our goal is to eradicate poverty, achieve sustained economic
growth and promote sustainable development as we advance to a fully inclusive
and equitable global economic system”.
The Monterrey consensus, in paragraph 4, reaffirmed the central character
of the traditional North-South paradigm: “Achieving the internationally agreed
development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration,
demands a new partnership between developed and developing countries”. It was
therefore logical in this context to stress that: “Official development assistance
(ODA) plays an essential role as a complement to other sources of financing
for development, especially in those countries with the least capacity to attract
private direct investment” (paragraph 39).
This consensus also mentioned on several occasions the case of “countries in
transition”, a by-word referring to countries of the former Soviet bloc that were
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Philippe Orliange; Ana Flávia Granja e Barros
undergoing transition from centrally planned economies to market economy,
in the decade following the fall of the Berlin wall.
Although the Monterrey
consensus also stressed the particular case of least developed countries, of
landlocked developing countries and small island developing states, it did
not challenge the notion that the partnership to be approved was between
“developed” and “developing” countries.
In this context, the year 2015 is a turning point in multilateral negotiations
related to sustainable development under the United Nations auspices, when three
fundamental conferences took place. However different
, they have contributed
to changing the global framework for public finance worldwide. In July, the
Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) agreed upon financing for development.
In September, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Agenda
2030 on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in New York. In December, the
Paris Agreement was adopted by the 21
conference of the parties (COP 21) to
the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
These three multilateral initiatives brought about a different perspective
from the cleavage between developed and developing countries, but it does
not mean that the cleavage simply disappeared. It is still present in the Paris
agreement (article 2) but balanced with the principle crafted in Rio in 1992 of
common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the
light of different national circumstances”. The agreement has also recognized
the needs of least developed countries (LDC) and small island developing states
(SIDS) (Paris agreement, article 4, para 6). Agenda 2030 stresses the case for
“the poorest and most vulnerable countries”.
The AAAA also refers to the
special needs of LDC, small islands developing states and, on several occasions,
to African states (AAAA, paragraph 8).
3 The complexity stemming from different development challenges around the world was somehow updated.
See, for instance, Monterrey Consensus, paragraph 20 “A central challenge, therefore, is to create the necessary
domestic and international conditions to facilitate direct investment flows, conducive to achieving national
development priorities, to developing countries, particularly Africa, least developed countries, small island
developing States, and landlocked developing countries, and also to countries with economies in transition”.
4 The three conferences had their own negotiating tracks but their respective outcomes, in spite of different
legal status, are remarkably convergent and consistent. They are part of the same systemic efforts in our view.
5 In the Preamble of the UNGA resolution it was stated in the following manner: “We are determined to mobilize
the means required to implement this Agenda through a revitalized Global Partnership for Sustainable
Development, based on a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focused in particular on the needs of the
poorest and most vulnerable and with the participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people”.
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From Monterrey to Addis Ababa and beyond: a new global framework for public finance [...]
The AAAA offers a broader picture when it comes to international financing.
“International public finance plays an important role in complementing the
efforts of countries to mobilize public resources domestically, in particular in
the poorest and most vulnerable countries with limited domestic resources. Our
ambitious agenda puts significant demands on public budgets and capacities,
which requires scaled-up and more effective international support, including
both concessional and non-concessional financing” (AAAA, paragraph 50).
Therefore, it referred to establishing an “enhanced and revitalized partnership
for sustainable development” (AAAA, paragraph 10). Besides, it stated that “This
global partnership should reflect the fact that the post-2015 development agenda,
including the sustainable development goals, is global in nature and universally
applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities,
capacities, needs and levels of development and respecting national policies and
priorities” (AAAA, paragraph 10).
The global nature of the AAAA echoes the Sustainable Development Goals
themselves: “The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets which we
are announcing today demonstrate the scale and ambition of this new universal
Agenda (…). They are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions
of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental” (Preamble
of Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015). It is
equally consistent with the goals and objectives of the Paris agreement that
acknowledges that “climate change is a common concern of humankind” (Preamble
of the Paris agreement). It also stresses that the Agreement aims “to strengthen
the global response to the threat of climate change, in the context of sustainable
development and efforts to eradicate poverty…”. (Article 2 of the 2015 Paris
Agreement). In sum, the need to strengthen the global development initiatives
and the financial safety net still is a key challenge for humankind, notably after
the COVID-19 crisis.
Systemic power relations and financial flows
After the failure of the Washington consensus (Bresser Pereira 2011), there
are at least three systemic megatrends in international relations: the decline of
the US leadership, the power shift to Asia, and the growing role of the private
sector (Allison 2018; Khanna 2019; Biscop 2019). As a result, the rich traditional
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Philippe Orliange; Ana Flávia Granja e Barros
providers for official development assistance had to cope with numerous middle-
income countries’ increasing interests (Inoue and Vaz 2012; Narlikar 2013; FSDR
2019) and bigger development banks, including the International Development
Finance Club (IDFC) discussed below.
Although non-traditional creditors became more relevant, the most important
public actors are still development agencies, whose primary function is to provide
official development assistance. Although ODA from OECD/Development Assistance
Committee (DAC) countries stood at 146,6 billion USD in 2017, the flow is still
traditionally North-South driven. Actually, there are at least three competing
poles of financing for development: the United States, the Europeans
and China.
However, other flows of international public finance are coming from the South,
notably the middle-income countries. Hence, we assume financing flows follow
the systemic changes in terms of power relations. In other words, emerging
economies play a more important role in financing for development (OECD 2019).
Combined with the crisis in the UN-led multilateral commitments
, the three
megatrends above shaped the current global framework for public finance for
sustainable development. Despite the fact that the role of the private sector is
growing, as blended financing strategies show (Voituriez et al 2017; Soares and
Inoue 2020), this article focuses exclusively on public financing.
The institutional entrepreneurship of emerging powers
Emerging powers are economic powers seeking for more recognition in
multilateral arenas (Narlikar 2013). Because they still have to face serious social
challenges, they are still middle-income countries (Morin and Orsini 2020).
Nowadays, the majority of the “developing world” is middle-income countries,
that is, 94 out of 130 countries. They are aid receivers but also providers of
international public finance (Inoue and Vaz 2012; Baumann 2017; Farias 2018;
FSDR2019; Chimhowu et al 2019), operating through cooperation agencies and
6 Some European countries have important development agencies, eight of them joined the IDFC (retrieved
from and twenty-three joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (retrieved from June 06, 2020.
7 Multilateralism crises under the UN auspices are not a recent trend. Reports from Secretary-Generals since
Kofi Annan, for instance, mention some traces of crises in different issues. See the Guterrez 2019 Report for
an update. In May 2020, the World Health Organization became the epicenter of a new crisis as President
Donald Trump decided to leave the organization.
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From Monterrey to Addis Ababa and beyond: a new global framework for public finance [...]
development banks. Hence, the UN recent negotiations and agendas are also a
result of their empowerment.
Agenda 2030 makes a short reference to MICs:
“Each country faces specific challenges in its pursuit of sustainable
development. The most vulnerable countries and, in particular, African
countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries
and small island developing States, deserve special attention, as do
countries in situations of conflict and post-conflict. There are also serious
challenges within many middle-income countries” (Paragraph 27 of the
SDG summit, New York, 25-27 September 2015). The 2030 Agenda, when
referring to objectives and indicators, also recognizes the particular case
of middle-income countries
Compared with the Monterrey Consensus, the newest feature in the AAAA
is the explicit mention of middle-income countries’ needs, which were not
mentioned at all in the Monterrey text. References to the special needs of MICs
were made on several occasions, such as: in general terms (paragraph 8); in the
context of foreign direct investment (para. 46); as a group facing “significant
challenges to achieve sustainable development” (para. 71 and 72). So, this
explicit reference to MICs is quite new and signals a particular and growing
concern of this particular group of countries.
The changes brought about by the new framework will be analyzed globally
and also through the example of three middle income countries, whose track
record in the area of international public finance is significant for a variety of
reasons. Mainstream literature focuses primarily on China and India, but our
analysis focuses on Brazil, South Africa and Colombia. They are receivers of
official development assistance but also of other flows of development finance.
Additionally, they play an important role in the framework, although 2021 may
bring a new scenario.
8 See in particular paragraph 48 “Indicators are being developed to assist this work. Quality, accessible, timely
and reliable disaggregated data will be needed to help with the measurement of progress and to ensure that
no one is left behind. Such data is key to decision-making. Data and information from existing reporting
mechanisms should be used where possible. We agree to intensify our efforts to strengthen statistical capacities
in developing countries, particularly African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing
countries, small island developing States and middle-income countries. We are committed to developing
broader measures of progress to complement gross domestic product”. Available at: <
ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/70/1&Lang=E>. Access on 10 Nov 2020.
9 Also, the AAAA no longer mentions the case of « countries in transition ».
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Philippe Orliange; Ana Flávia Granja e Barros
Brazil and South Africa have been active in the field of development
cooperation for quite some time (Chatuverdi et al. 2012; Inoue and Vaz, 2012).
Colombia is a newcomer but it has played a very significant role in the elaboration
and adoption of the SDGs. Also, it joined the OECD in 2020. Brazil and South
Africa, as BRICS members participated in the creation of the New Development
Bank (NDB) in 2014, headquartered in Shanghai, with branches in Johannesburg
and São Paulo. While Colombia and Brazil have a cooperation agency, South
Africa is still working towards the creation of its agency. The three countries
have development banks – Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e
Social (BNDES) for Brazil, Banco de Comercio Exterior de Colombia (Bancoldex),
Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).
Concisely, the complexity of institutional entrepreneurship of MICs is still
largely unexplored. Most IR analysts put the debate in terms of integration or
competition (Ikenberry, 2011; Prantl, 2014; Stuenkel 2019). However, there is a
growing probability of more collaboration among them, within the International
Development Finance Club (IDFC), for instance. The IDFC was established in
2010 with 23 development banks, out of which only three were from OECD/DAC
countries (JICA from Japan, KFW from Germany, AFD from France). Others
were from developing and emerging countries. The IDFC members represented
in 2019 a total of asset worth 3 trillion USD and annual commitments of 405
billion, out of which green finance alone represents 98 billion (IDFC, 2019). In
2020, the IDFC has 26 members, 600 billion USD in commitments and the asset
raised to 4 trillion dollars (IDFC, 2020)
The increased role of development banks
The follow-up report to the AAAA, prepared by the United Nations Department
for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) analyzed the role of national
development banks and pointed at their contribution to financing the transition
to sustainable infrastructure (UN 2017,15-16). The International Development
Finance Club also made the case for the increased role of development banks in
the financing of Agenda 2030. The creation of the IDFC in 2010, at the initiative
of CAF, BNDES and KFW’s CEOs, aimed at helping “national and sub-regional
10 There are 8 members from Europe, 4 from Africa, 6 from Asia and the Middle East and 8 from Central, South
America and the Caribbean Region. Retrieved from: Access on 5 Jun 2020.
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From Monterrey to Addis Ababa and beyond: a new global framework for public finance [...]
development banks strengthen their voice in an environment dominated by
multilateral financing institutions” (IDFC 2019). The objectives are described as
follows: “Agenda setting by joining forces and networking on issues of similar
interest, I dentifying and developing joint business opportunities, sharing know-
how and best practice experiences for mutual learning”. Issues of common interest
for the members are:climate finance, infrastructure finance, social development,
poverty reduction, green banking and innovation finance” (IDFC 2019). In 2020,
the IDFC took action to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic
The membership of the IDFC illustrates the global and universal partnership
mentioned in the AAAA and departs from the old North-South logic. Only three
members were from “donor countries”: KFW, AFD, JICA, and the majority is
from middle-income countries, with an unprecedented representation of Latin
America. Development banks are not “new actors” because many of them existed
even before ODA was created. But the new international agenda for development
financing is reshaping their role and they are shaping this new agenda in return.
With the increasing focus put on international public finance, the AAAA
also stresses the role of development banks, a category of actors that was barely
mentioned in the Monterrey Consensus. This is the case in paragraph 33 that
“notes the role that well-functioning national and regional development bank
can play in financing sustainable development, particularly in credit market
segments in which commercial banks are not fully engaged and where large
financing gaps exist (…)”. The text also stresses the counter-cyclical role that such
banks can play. These references are made in the section devoted to “domestic
resources mobilization”. Development banks are also referred to in the section
dealing with international development cooperation, alongside multilateral
development banks (AAAA, paragraph 70), or on their own AAAA, paragraph 75).
Development banks, as diverse as they may be, provide long-term public finance
for development.
From ODA to International public finance
Several factors explain the creation in the early 1960s of a body of policies,
mechanisms and institutions aiming at defining international development
cooperation and official development assistance (ODA). Development economics
11 <>. Access on 10 Nov 2020.
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Philippe Orliange; Ana Flávia Granja e Barros
argued that underdevelopment was the result of insufficient investment, which
in itself is the consequence of insufficient domestic savings. Hence, the need
to supply from outside was clear. Others argued on moral grounds that rich
countries should not ignore the sufferings of poor ones and should therefore find
ways to help them and their people. Of course, geopolitics was not absent from
the debate concerning establishing ODA as a permanent feature of inter-state
relations. Put bluntly, financial assistance soon appeared as a path for world
powers to strengthen alliances (or create new ones).
In this context, Monterrey and Addis Ababa have both stressed the importance
of mobilizing domestic resources when it comes to financing sustainable
development. Monterrey was a landmark in this respect since prior to 2002 the
issue of domestic resource mobilization did not receive the same level of attention
it did on the first conference on financing for development. Nevertheless, as
mentioned above, ODA came first in the list of tools aimed at supporting the
global partnership at Monterrey. Thirteen years later, Addis Ababa Action Agenda
started its section C on “International development cooperation” stressing the
role of “international public finance”. Likewise, Agenda 2030 also referred to
international public finance as a complement to domestic public resources
Chapter 3 of the Financing for Sustainable Development Report (FSDR, 2019) is
thus entitled “International Development Cooperation”.
All the above arguments made the case for transferring resources, closely in
line with the Marshall Plan in postwar Europe. It is remarkable that the institution
that was established to coordinate and follow the implementation of this Plan, the
Organization for European Economic Cooperation, became the Organization for
Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD). In its framework, the committee
in charge of defining and monitoring the newly “official development assistance”
was established. Therefore, the notion of ODA and how it was monitored had
several implications from postwar experiences.
It was first necessary to agree on a common definition of ODA, so that it
could be clearly distinguished from export-credits. The focus of the nascent ODA
12 Paragraph 43 states “We emphasize that international public finance plays an important role in complementing
the efforts of countries to mobilize public resources domestically, especially in the poorest and most vulnerable
countries with limited domestic resources. An important use of international public finance, including official
development assistance (ODA), is to catalyze additional resource mobilization from other sources, public and
private. ODA providers reaffirm their respective commitments, including the commitment by many developed
countries to achieve the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income for official development assistance
(ODA/GNI) to developing countries and 0.15 per cent to 0.2 per cent of ODA/GNI to least developed countries”.
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From Monterrey to Addis Ababa and beyond: a new global framework for public finance [...]
was to stir growth and development that would eventually increase income.
A target was set: 0,7%
of rich countries GDP was due to be allocated to ODA
under the UN framework. At this point it is worth noting that the 0,7% target is
a rare case of a regionally defined concept receiving international recognition.
There is no universal definition of ODA (it is an OECD concept which has been
given recognition by the UN) but there is no universal support for the 0,7%
target. Second, a consensus on which countries should be eligible to receive
ODA was reached. The notion of a list of beneficiaries was based on a level of
per capita income above which a country was no longer eligible to access ODA
funds. The OECD was not the only institution to draw up lists of countries. The
World Bank established a similar system. So did the United Nations with a list
of “Least developed countries” (LDC), although LDC are not necessarily poor
countries in per capita income terms. Third, the definition of modalities for
reporting on aid flows was a task for donor countries.
The overall levels of ODA remained more or less stable (at relatively high
levels) until the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1989 (thus showing in retrospect that
geopolitical motives had weighed more strongly in favor of ODA than what had
been publicly acknowledged). Then, ODA started to decline until the adoption
of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) gave a new life to the twin agenda
of combatting poverty and increasing ODA. The G7 countries had also made
the case in favor of helping the poorest countries with the Highly Indebted Poor
Countries (HIPC) initiative, launched by the World Bank and the International
Monetary Fund, and supported by the 1999 G7 summit. Other factors such as the
creation of the Department for International Development (DFID) in the United
Kingdom gave centrality to the issue of poverty in the international agenda.
The Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development further endorsed this
renewed commitment. So, at the beginning of the 21
century, ODA as a way to
support the poverty eradication agendas in developing countries was enjoying
a much stronger support than had been the case since the late 1980s. Recently,
ODA augmented, but it was concentrated in a few countries and related to
humanitarian emergencies (FSDR, 2019:77).
Nevertheless, ODA is not the only source of public external finance that flows
into developing and emerging countries. The Table 1 below shows the respective
13 An estimate was made of the external resources needed in developing countries to make up for the lack of
savings needed to finance investment levels needed to achieve the expected targeted growth. This amount
was equivalent to 0,7%.
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Philippe Orliange; Ana Flávia Granja e Barros
size of different financial flows to and in developing countries, both domestic
and international, public and private, and their allocation by income category.
Table 1. International public finance, FDI and domestic resources
(USD Bn)
(WB/IMF) 2014**
LICs/LDCs 51 2 37 136% 105 48%
LMICs 45 29 100 45% 748 6%
UMICs 22 34 366 6% 2301 1%
Total 118* 65* 508 23% 3155 4%
* The figure is lower than the total gross ODA or OOF since a portion of ODA and OOF cannot be allocated to specific
countries or income categories
** AFD figures based on OECD, WB and IMF data.
Source: AFD, OECD, WB and IMF data.
“Other official financial flows” (OOF), include public finance for development
purposes but which are not on concessional terms as ODA is. The fact that there
is no internationally agreed upon target for OOF, comparable to the 0,7% of GDP
for ODA, explains why it is not as widely known as ODA is in the framework of
international negotiations on development finance. The quality of the reporting
is often lower than ODA reporting and may result in the underestimation of
these flows. They include export credits, financing provided by public financial
institutions in the forms of loans, either to public or private counterparts, on
concessional terms, etc. Since 2017, exports credits that used to be included in
OOF are accounted for separately.
Similar to ODA, OOF are public flows from developed countries to developing
ones, but the notion of international public finance goes beyond that
. Section C of
the AAAA mentions “South-South Cooperation” under the heading “international
development cooperation”. Is South-South Cooperation “international public
finance”? This is not clearly stated in the document, which characterizes South-
South Cooperation in terms of “shared experiences and objectives” rather than
in terms of financial flows (AAAA, paragraphs 56 and 57).
The AAAA also refers to a possible new concept that comes close to a
description of “international public finance”, namely the “proposed total official
support for sustainable development” (TOSSD) (AAAA, paragraphs 55). TOSSD is
14 For a more comprehensive analysis of the key concepts related to development financing, see Farias (2018).
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an effort by the OECD to account for the financial flows that support sustainable
development but which are not ODA, either because they do not match the
financial standards of ODA or because they are provided by non-OECD member
states. As Mr. Jorge Moreira, director for development cooperation of OECD put
it recently; there is a need to “provide the first-ever global picture of finance for
development from all donors. Initial estimates show that this could be upwards
of USD 500-600 billion annually. This new standard will allow for transparency,
accountability and comparability that will strengthen collective multilateral
development finance and decision-making. At the same time, ODA will remain
distinct in its policy standard-setting and its target-setting measurement of 0.7%
ODA/GNI for foreign aid spending” (Moreira and Gornitzka 2018).
Middle-income countries and the new development agenda
Based on DAC methodology, among the 146 countries listed as ODA recipients,
in 2016, 94 are middle income (lower and upper) and 52 are least developed
countries (LDC) or Low Income, meaning that two thirds of the “developing
world” are middle-income countries. It is of political significance the fact that
the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and Agenda 2030 contain explicit references
to middle-income countries, even though they do not constitute an established
category, within the UN system, the way least developed countries do.
The relevance of the new development agenda and in particular the issue
of financing for development (and climate) for middle income countries will be
analyzed in general terms and through the examples of three countries: Brazil,
South Africa and Colombia. From an “OECD/DAC” point of view, Brazil, South
Africa and Colombia are recipient of overseas development assistance. Table 2
below shows how they were positioned in the recent past.
Table 2. ODA received in 2016 (in million USD)
South Africa Brazil Colombia
Total ODA 1315 880 1167
Of which OECD/DAC countries 1098 755 1037
Source: OECD StatExport 2017.
Middle-income countries in general have actively participated in the elaboration
of the process leading to the adoption of the SDGs. The role of Colombia in this
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Philippe Orliange; Ana Flávia Granja e Barros
process has often been emphasized (Chataigner and Tous 2017). Contrary to the
MDGs process which was largely inspired by the works of development agencies,
the SDGs process has really been universal and with a much stronger input from
middle income countries. As a result, the 17 SDGs cover a much broader scope
of issues than the MDGs in which issues relating to social services (education,
health, water and sanitation) were given “the lion’s share”. Issues such as
inequalities (SDG 10) or sustainable cities (SDG 11) are of particular relevance
for middle-income countries having reached or being in the process of reaching
high level of urbanization, a growing middle class, and so on.
As mentioned above, the AAAA makes special reference to issues of
importance for middle-income countries. The document signals that MICs “still
face significant challenges to achieve sustainable development” (para. 71), that
“ODA and concessional finance is still important for a number of these countries”
(id.). It calls for “methodologies to better account for the (…)realities of MICs”
(para. 72), raises the issue of “graduation” and calls for “gradual policies” in
this regard (id).
In addition to these issues, certain categories of actors highlighted in the
AAAA are of particular relevance for middle income countries. This is the case with
development banks, for instance. It is also the case with the issue of sub-sovereign
. Development banks are not a prerogative of middle-income countries.
Many developed countries do have such instruments. However, it is of particular
relevance for them given the nature of financing needs of middle-income countries.
Even though the Paris agreement as such does not make explicit reference
to middle-income countries, they are already key players in the area of climate
finance. A number of MICs are already large emitters of greenhouse gases. During
the Paris talks, Brazil and South Africa ranked 11
and 17
in the list of major
emitters (UNFCCC
). The provisions of the Paris agreement on finance might look
weak, but they are consistent with what MICs may need: “this agreement aims
to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change (…) including
by making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse
gas emissions and climate-resilient development” (Paris Agreement, article 2C).
Finance flows in this context are not linked to a level of income that would place
15 Development banks are often mentioned in the AAAA. See for instance paragraphs 33,43,70,75, 81. Lending
for sub-nationals is mentioned in paragraph 34.
16 The website has an official map of emitters. <
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a constraint for middle-income countries. They are associated with a “pathway
towards climate resilient development”. This is exactly what the SDGs and the
AAAA are about. Likewise, the OECD/DAC recognizes the nexus humanitarian
Middle-income countries are also providers of development finance (Chaturvedi
et al, 2012; Guet al, 2016). It is interesting to analyze their practices against the
background of the new development agenda. However, the issue of availability of
data must be mentioned. Outside OECD/DAC, there are no harmonized practices
for reporting on development finance. The OECD publishes information about
non-DAC countries. Some do report figures about their ODA using DAC standards.
This is the case with Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Russia, and
Thailand. None of the three countries of interest does report to the OECD.
However, OECD occasionally publishes estimates based on data published by
the countries themselves.
Table 3. Estimates of gross concessional flows for development cooperation 2011-2015
(USD million, current)
Country 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Source
Brazil 469 411 316 - -
Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA)
and Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC)
China (PR of)
3123 2997 3401 3113 Fiscal Yearbook, Ministry of Finance
Colombia 22 27 42 45 42
Strategic institutional plans, Presidential
Agency of International Cooperation
India 794 1077 1223 1398 1772 Annual budget figures, Ministry of Finance
Indonesia 16 26 49 56 - Ministry of National Development Planning
Mexico 99 203 526 169 -
Mexican Agency for International
Development Cooperation (AMEXCID)
South Africa 229 191 191 148 100
Estimates of public expenditures,
National Treasury
Source: Own elaboration (2020)
OECD also publishes data regarding flows of concessional resources
going through international institutions to which middle income countries are
contributors, using the coefficient that qualifies the amount of these contributions
counted as ODA.
17 The World Bank Group (, United Nations Development Program ( and
the OECD share the same view on this nexus.
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Philippe Orliange; Ana Flávia Granja e Barros
Table 4. Estimated contributions of middle-income countries to international
institutions contributing to ODA (USD million, current)
(PR of)
Colombia India Indonesia Mexico
Total Total Total Total Total Total Total
Total United Nations 54,3 206,6 13,2 59,3 14,2 50,0 18,7
UN (18%) 14,3 25,1 1,3 3,3 1,7 9,0 1,8
FAO (51%) 8,7 18,8 5,4 2,0 1,1 13,7 2,5
UNESCO (60%) 6,0 18,5 0,0 5,0 1,0 5,9 1,1
WHO (76%) 1,9 24,9 0,1 9,1 2,2 6,5 1,9
UNDPKO (7%) 0,7 38,8 0,1 0,2 0,1 0,4 0,1
WFP (100%) 7,2 10,5 1,4 1,4 - - -
IFAD (100%) - 7,0 0,2 13,0 3,6 1,7 -
ILO (60%) 8,0 15,2 0,0 2,0 1,0 0,2 2,3
UNIDO (100%) - 13,9 0,3 6,7 0,5 0,3 0,5
IAEA (33%) - 10,5 0,1 1,5 0,8 3,5 1,1
UNDP (100%) 0,5 8,1 3,8 9,7 0,8 2,0 2,6
Other United Nations Agencies 6,9 15,4 0,5 5,5 1,4 6,7 4,6
Total regional devpt banks 41,6 21,3 17,7 41,8 - 36,0 26,9
IaDB (100%) 41,6 - 11,4 - - 26,8 -
AfDB (100%) - 9,6 - 34,4 - - 26,9
IsDB (100%) - 10,0 - - - - -
CABEI (100%) - - 5,4 - - - -
AsDB (100%) - - - 7,5 - - -
CaDB (100%) - 1,8 0,9 - - 9,2 -
World Bank Group (total) - - - 65,5 - - 12,3
Other multilateral organisations - 5,0 - 21,7 - - 22,9
African Union (100%) - - - - - - 15,6
Global Environment Facility (100%) - - - 2,9 - - -
The Global Fund (100%) - 5,0 - 4,3 - - -
Southern African Development
Community (100%)
- - - - - - 4,0
Other organisations - - - 14,6 - - 3,4
Overall total 95,9 232,9 30,9 188,3 14,2 86,0 80,8
Source: Benn and Luijkx (2017).
Other estimates provide very different figures. For Brazil, Suyama et al (2016, 39)
show expenditures reaching 900 million USD in 2011, with peacekeeping operations
representing 250 million USD and contributions to international organizations
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300 million USD, way above OECD estimates. Because methodologies are not
clearly stated, comparison with “traditional” donors are difficult. However, if
OECD sources are used, in 2013 these three countries have provided the following
amounts of concessional finance to developing countries, either bilaterally or
through international organizations.
Table 5. Concessional finance to developing countries, from South Africa,
Brazil and Colombia, based on OECD estimates, in million USD
Bilateral Multilateral Total
South Africa 191 80 271
Brazil 316 95 411
Colombia 42 30,9 72,9
Source: Benn and Luijkx (2017).
The three countries under analysis have established development agencies,
which channel or implement part or most of the bilateral funding listed above
(Agência Brasileira de Desenvolvimento (ABC) in the case of Brazil, South
African Development Partnership Agency (SADPA)
in South Africa, and Agencia
Presidencial de Cooperación Internacional de Colombia, (APC) for Colombia.
However, they have development banks that play a role in international public
finance: BNDES, BANCOLDEX, DBSA. To assess the impact of development banks
on international public finance, we considered the disbursements and the part
of these disbursements related to activities abroad (which can be export finance
of financing for projects). Based on these criteria, the following figures can be
extracted from the annual reports of the banks:
Table 6. Annual disbursements of BNDES, Bancoldex and DBSA
related to international activities
Bancoldex BNDES DBSA
Annual disbursements
(converted in million USD)
1,600 22,000 0,891
Of which, international activities 0,450 4,000 0,222
Type of activities Exports Exports
Development financing
in 14 countries
Source: Based on information contained in annual reports by Bancoldex, BNDES and DBSA, 2015-2016.
18 SADPA is still in the process of being formally established. South Africa has been implementing development
cooperation through its “Africa Renaissance Fund”, under the Department of International relations and
cooperation (DIRCO).
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Philippe Orliange; Ana Flávia Granja e Barros
Exports credits are not considered under OECD rules as development financing.
Some may therefore object to considering a bank providing export finance as
a “development financier”. However, it is worth noting that the definition of
climate finance” used to follow up on the commitment made in Copenhagen in
2009 about the 100 bn USD target of climate finance for development countries
includes export finance. Seen from a “micro” perspective, it is better in terms
of combatting climate change to use export finance of wind or solar plants than
to use ODA to finance a coal-powered thermal plant.
Strangely enough, the current literature dealing with South-South cooperation
seldom focusses on the role of these banks as providers of international public
finance. It focusses more on the role of agencies when the sheer numbers would
suggest doing otherwise.
Final Remarks
Since the 1992 Rio Summit, the global landscape changed considerably.
Likewise, different ambitious and global agendas set the decades’ priorities
related to development, notably in 2015. The Monterrey meeting, the Addis Ababa
Action Agenda, the United Nations Agendas (setting Millennium Development
and Sustainable Development Goals) and the climate COP 21, all together,
emphasize the need for public policies consistent with the new global challenges.
They encompass ensuring properly functioning institutions, providing public
services, making up for what the private cannot or does not want to finance.
As a result, public policies require public finance and more private financing
mechanisms and investment. This complex interaction is captured by the concept
of institutional bypass. In this context, public development banks are the only
category of public actors, apart from the states themselves, having the capacity to
make the numbers match the targets set at the global conferences and agendas.
Five key changes affected the evolution of the global financing framework
for sustainable development. First, the evolution of development agendas was
remarkable, notably under the UN auspices, although the results are still generally
poor as Guterrez stated in 2019. Not only did the multilateral agendas offer a
broader view global challenges and their interconnections, but also they adopted
a more sophisticated approach to viable solutions, opening windows for other
financing options. From the 1992 Rio Summit to the 2015 Paris Agreement on
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climate change, public and private actors augmented their interactions in the
financing of development efforts. In addition, the simple distinction between
developed and developing countries was challenged by theses agendas. These
agendas also recognized other types of countries with specific needs, such as small
islands developing states, least developed countries and emerging economies.
Second, the systemic power relations changed, that is, the power shift to
Asia and some middle-income countries. Most recent literature focus on China
and the South-East Asia, emphasizing the role new institutions such as the New
Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank tend to play
in the future. However, countries like Brazil, Colombia and South Africa also
play an important role in the framework. Besides having regional importance,
they participated in the creation of the International Development Finance Club.
Third, we mentioned emerging countries and their institutional entrepreneurship,
mainly connected to the South-South cooperation efforts. Brazil, Colombia and
South Africa are examples of countries that invested heavily in the financing of
development projects. Because some of them experimented recent and impressive
economic growth rates up to 2015, but declined afterwards, it is important to
follow their respective roles in the post-COVID-19 scenario.
Fourth, the empowerment of development banks and the creation of their
own international club, the IDFC. Because development banks share the same
objectives and financing for development, planning to finance global goals is an
opportunity to shape their respective priorities. Although the IDFC is still little
explored in IR literature, we tried to highlight its mounting importance. The
conditions under which it functions and how policy networks inside member
countries may influence its success need to be analyzed in depth in the future.
Fifth, the international public financing mechanisms that resulted from
the previous changes lead to the conclusion that the framework for financing
development changed significantly. The SDGs definitely also contributed to
blurring the distinction between developed and developing countries. Confronted
with the challenge of SDGs all countries are “developing”, since they all have a
social agenda to manage. The 2030 Agenda also dilutes the distinction between
what is domestic and what is international. For example, the implementation of
domestic policies aimed at reducing GHG emissions in all countries is key for the
success of international cooperation to tackle climate change and health issues.
This paradigm makes even more relevant an increased role for institutions that
can act, both at domestic and international levels. It somehow questions the
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Philippe Orliange; Ana Flávia Granja e Barros
traditional link between development cooperation and foreign policy. In fact,
this needs to be explored in future research too.
Therefore, the growing relevance of development banks is the result of several
factors, lying at the heart of Agenda 2030. Many countries have development
banks, regardless of their level of income per capita. Many of these institutions
contribute both to domestic public finance and to international public finance.
This is the case with BNDES, Bancoldex and DBSA. This is even more relevant
since the three banks are members of IDFC (founding member in the case of
BNDES). Finally, in this fast-evolving landscape, development banks are critical
for the success of the agendas aforementioned.
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