China Domino Tactics boost Infrastructure Bank

China’s Domino Tactics Boost Infrastructure Bank

Posted on CIPS site  March 22, 2015 by John Sinclair

China is looking ever the experienced super-power. In a week it has scooped up all the important European dominos, humiliating a U.S. government which has lobbied hard to block the launch of China’s new $50b Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The dominos have fallen quickly. Last week it was the UK’s turn to join, preferring its commercial interest and geo-political judgment over its friendship with the U.S. Now it is a coordinated set of EU announcements from France, Germany and Italy. The driver was their desire to be well-connected economic partners in Asia, but there was also an element of blowback on U.S. geo-political arrogance, be it spying on Angela Merkel or military jingoism towards Russia.

What we are seeing is an ongoing power play that will shape the future world as much as the impact of climate change will.

 A little history. A war about global power has been ongoing for a few years, ever since the West recognized that the emerging economies, the BRICS and a few others were global forces—ones in many cases already more powerful than the also-rans in the G7, such as Canada. But the West failed to be serious about expanding its vision, remaining wary of letting go; if anything, it has become more assertive about the primacy of an older order.

An early battleground has been the global financial institutions. Key BRICS countries demanded concrete recognition of their central role in saving the world from the U.S.-UK banking de-regulation folly that led to the global financial crisis. They demanded a fair (i.e. larger) share in the governance of the IMF and the World Bank, which are still dominated by the West, with an embedded U.S.veto.

The U.S. was surprisingly open on this front, but maybe they liked to see mid-sized Europeans nations such as Belgium being put in their place. Reluctantly, these over-represented countries were pushed by the U.S. into agreeing to give up their excess voting rights to China and India. At first, reason seemed to be prevailing, but then the modest first step for the IMF was blocked by the absurdities of U.S. politics in an obstreperous U.S. Congress.

Last year, frustrated and impatient BRICS leaders moved to Plan B: creating a rival world of global financial institutions. Meeting at their own summit in Brazil, they set up a $50b World Bank clone and a $100b Contingent Reserve Fund, a mini-IMF, which will likely yet save Russia from the worst of present Western sanctions.

China wanted even more: a better home for its trillions of U.S. dollar bonds but also a vehicle to finance the massive infrastructure needs of Asia that it saw as essential to its and their future as trading partners. Last October, it created ‘its’ Asian Infrastructure Bank, as a serious competitive threat to the Japanese and U.S.-dominated Asian Development Bank (ADB). There is luckily room for both, with the ADB estimating Asian infrastructure needs at $1 trillion a year.

The first flood of those joining China were 21 mid-sized Asian economies, such as Singapore and Indonesia. While friends of the U.S. and the World Bank, they welcomed a new, maybe more accommodating, funding source. The U.S., with its ‘tilt to Asia’ strategy, leaned hard on Japan, Australia and South Korea not to join. Once again America found itself forcing its Asian friends into taking sides in an unwanted struggle (this time economic, not military) with China’s assertive President Xi Jinxing. Instead of ‘win-win’, the U.S. now finds itself between a rock and a hard place. After the European moves, will these key U.S. allies in Asia be the next dominos to fall?  None of them wants a fight with friends over a bank they objectively welcome.

The present tension and stalled progress towards a better partnership has only accentuated the challenge to the existing Western-driven framework of multilateral financial institutions. Sensible technical concerns about environmental safeguards were transformed into a political campaign to oppose Asian ambitions for stronger, locally controlled, development institutions.

A similar tension could lead the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) into becoming another domino to fall. This trade deal is being driven at top speed by America towards what critics describe as a set of rules designed to favour U.S. financial services, while also politically containing China with its growing strength in world markets.

What we are seeing is an ongoing power play that will shape the future world as much as the impact of climate change will. We are not talking G2 partnership, but rather now arm-wrestling between two great powers. There could well be a lot of collateral damage as they struggle rather than choosing to co-operate in dealing with more fundamental challenges such as global warming and widespread inequality. One has to wonder what is happening politically and socially in today’s U.S. that leads it to choose conflict and tension over peace and compromise on so many fronts—not just China and its infrastructure bank, but also Iran and Ukraine.

Where will Canada find itself? It will likely be almost the last G7 country to join, falling further back in its ambitions for better economic relations with Asia. The scale of all this Chinese funding also somewhat mocks the role of Minister Paradis’ possible Canadian Development Finance Institution. Canada should now be more strategic and begin to look outside our comfort zone to build relationships with new global actors.

Posted as: http://cips.uottawa.ca/chinas-domino-tactics-boost-infrastructure-bank/

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The Global Partnership – ready to broaden its mandate?

Updated for a global audience in February 2014 on Global Partnership/GPEDC blog site ; original published by CIPS on September 4, 2013.

 

John Sinclair, Distinguished Associate, North-South Institute, Canada.

Global Partnership – ready to Broaden Its Mandate?

Partnership, especially global, has to be a good thing. Many saw the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation as a last-minute compromise reached at the 2011 Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Korea, but the Global Partnership’s first High Level meeting in Mexico on April 15-16 is the opportunity to prove its mettle.

The question remaining is whether the Global Partnership can evolve into a leading element in the new global architecture on sustainable development or risks remaining just a slightly enlarged, post-Busan technical forum.

The Global Partnership was conceived as a bridge, political as well as technical, between North and South. However for it to function, Western donors must find common cause with new development actors from an invigorated South such as China, India and Brazil. They must also respect country leadership from increasingly diverse recipient-partners ranging from lower-middle-income Vietnam to highly vulnerable Haiti.

“A Global Partnership linked ministerially to the G20, but also well co-ordinated with the UN, could be a win-win solution for development effectiveness.”

While the Global Partnership continues to find its feet, North and South are moving ahead on the Post-2015 Agenda, the stage beyond the Millennium Development Goals. Building upon his High-Level Panel and extensive consultations, the United Nations’ Secretary-General has proposed to build a consensus around two main objectives: the global elimination of extreme poverty and a set of sustainable development goals linking economic growth, social justice and environmental protection. The UN’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals is accelerating its work to frame these new goals later in 2014.

An enhanced Global Partnership could play a more engaged role in building that consensus. A modest first step is already happening. The Global Partnership is informally extending beyond monitoring post-Busan performance to a role in helping frame the Post-2015 Development Agenda. But its leadership is still wary, focusing for now on their first High-Level Meeting.

Today’s Global Partnership, with its tripartite ministerial leadership from the UK, Indonesia and Nigeria, works through a committee of 15 international ‘worthies’, selected, with what some might see as only partial legitimacy, to reflect views from different country groupings, international organisations, the private sector and civil society. It has a modest secretariat drawn from the United Nations Development Programme and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This is all far from optimal for a global leadership role. The Partnership risks being left as a weak voice which will defer on strategic issues to traditional global governance fora such as the OECD Development Assistance Committee and the somewhat tired Bretton Woods’ Committees.

Why not start, even if incrementally, to move towards a stronger role? To do this the Global Partnership needs a broader mandate. Busan already saw a shift in vocabulary from aid to development effectiveness. But development post-Busan must be understood more broadly to embrace trade and investment, intellectual property rights, climate change, global governance, etc. Encouragingly that broader agenda is already entering Post-2015 thinking.

In that same spirit the Global Partnership could be reformatted to include a broader–based, more representative ministerial-level body, perhaps as an enlarged steering committee on some sort of ‘constituency’ basis like the OWG. This enlarged Ministerial membership might be broadly aligned with that of the current low-key development working group of the G20. Conveniently, two of the Partnership’s Co-Chairs already sit as nations around the G20 table.

None of this will be easy. The exact mechanics will need to be worked out within the Partnership and with the G20. The latter has its own challenges of legitimacy and flawed inclusiveness. It needs to quickly add a so-called fragile state. Conveniently one is already on the Global Partnership steering committee.

Maybe more problematically, some influential NY voices within the G77 see Busan, thus the Global Partnership, as a ‘plot’ challenging the primacy of the UN. The G77 might prefer another body, the so-called High Level Political Forum, born at Rio+20 to work on the ‘how’ of Post-2015; however, it is also seen as stunted in terms of real power.

The occasion for a first step could be the High-Level Meeting. Could ministers, especially those from countries already within the G20, in Mexico reach beyond the Global Partnership’s Development Effectiveness mandate to encompass the related challenges of merging Post-2015 Millennium Development Goals and new Sustainable Development Goals?

Their formal agenda is important but somewhat technical, including post-Busan monitoring, future roles for the private sector, South-South co-operation, domestic resource mobilization and country-level implementation. This is not the stuff that usually grabs the attention of busy ministers. Moreover, there are more problematic issues that, although raised in Busan or the UN’s Open Working Group, may require a high-level political forum such as a G20 working group enriched with some Global Partnership ministers to build consensus or frame needed compromises.

To move forward global leaders, from South and North, need to agree that there is no one ‘right’ global forum for decision-making or dialogue. Many ideas have their roots in the UN system; others emerge in fora such as the G20 or the Bretton Woods Institutions. None of these fora should have an exclusive right to global power and leadership. Indeed, in our multi-polar world enhanced inclusivity is ever more the institutional challenge.

With this opportunity and also institutional ambiguity, maybe the Partnership even at this late hour might add an informal session in Mexico on its own mandate and future place in global governance? After all this will be first time the Global Partnership comes together as 100+ ministers at a meeting of old and new donors/partners and recipients. The session might be difficult, but still an invaluable exploration. Even to deal with its original Busan mandate, the Global Partnership needs greater legitimacy and empowerment. In a G20 context, North and South have learned to work as partners countering the global financial crisis. Extending that spirit to break the traditionalism within OECD and G77 circles might be a big boost towards the mindset needed for an effective Partnership.

An important caveat is that some low-income, still aid-dependent, developing countries find an enhanced Global Partnership role a worrying concept.  They fear it could distract traditional donors from maintaining the essential flow of conventional aid. Emerging Economies, the BRICS (that is, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), need to reassure them that this new broader development agenda will have space for both their own needs and those of the fragile states and LICs (Low Income Countries).

A Global Partnership linked ministerially to the G20 will be institutionally a bold step. But, especially if it is also well co-ordinated with the UN, it could be a win-win solution for development effectiveness. Its first challenge could be to assist with the trouble-shooting and consensus–building essential for a successful outcome on the Post-2015 Agenda and its new Sustainable Development Goals. Beyond that, an enhanced ministerial leadership of the Global Partnership building upon its development effectiveness focus, could play a key role in pushing the G20 itself, still overly focused on the global financial crisis, towards a broader geo-political agenda, including issues of equitable and inclusive global development. This would hopefully finally displace any lingering G8 dreams of continuing exclusivity in global leadership. Voices of moderation and partnership in North and South should welcome and support this transition.

Poverty lose out to ‘shirt-fronting’ at Brisbane G20

Published in EMBASSY, Wednesday, November 12, 2014—16 Opinion

Climate change, poverty lose out to ‘shirt-fronting’ at G20

It is becoming harder each year to see anything new and bold, anything that speaks to a better global future, from the G20. The 20 most powerful global leaders will gather this weekend in Brisbane, Australia, talk in private, have their photo-ops, then issue a pre-packaged communiqué that has been endlessly fine-tuned over several months to the point of tedium by twenty anonymous bureaucrats, the sherpas.

We won’t even get to see the big fight: ‘shirt-fronting’ host Tony Abbott versa black-belt holder, Vladimir Putin. (Some well-informed punters suggested 10-1 odds on a Putin win.)

Meanwhile the world outside, our world, stumbles on into another year of under-performing economies and a billion plus global citizens still living on less than $1.25 per day. This year’s rotating chair, Australia, almost succeeded in removing the existential topic of climate change from the agenda as mere ‘clutter’, until a last minute reprieve under pressure from the US and EU.

It is not clear if we are dealing with incompetence or indifference, but I fear the latter.

Of course the sherpas, respecting PM Abbott’s goals, have put together a busy but dull agenda, much of it is unfinished work from previous summits. Timely effective implementation does not seem to be a G20 strong point. Too many ‘decisions’ becomes subject to further studies. Maybe it needs a better accountability framework, one that is public and independently assessed.

Under the heading ‘a more resilient global economy’ the leaders will sign off on further regulations for those ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks that led us into the global financial crisis back in 2008. However past G20 decisions have done little for a struggling Europe. And now the German powerhouse is stalled and China admits to planning for slower growth.

PM Abbott’s favourite is a largely private sector-driven G20 push on infrastructure, to be supported by a newly created knowledge ‘Hub’ for those who don’t know quite what to do.

Meanwhile an impatient China has simply set up its own $100 billion Asian Infrastructure Bank.

There is more on the agenda – after all they have to touch at least lightly upon everything in the draft communiqué. They say they will discuss reforming global institutions – but, blocked by the US Congress, the very modest 2010 IMF reform package is still not implemented and the BRICS, in frustration at this inaction, have now announced their own IMF clone. The G20 plans to talk about ‘modernising international taxation’, a polite way of saying stopping the tax avoidance activities of companies such as Starbucks and Apple as they shuffle huge worldwide profits into countries such as Ireland and Luxembourg where very low taxes need to be paid. Will they remember to include the idea of a financial transactions tax to create new funds for climate action and development?

The meeting will plead for progress on the work of the WTO (World Trade Organisation) but the same reform package was rejected last year by veto-holding developing countries, notably India, since it failed to include any action to reduce huge US and EU agricultural subsidies that undermine the efforts of low-income country farmers. And those same G20 member industrialised countries, with Canada to the fore, are busy cooking up trade side-deals that undermine the WTO mandate for multilateralism. Sadly, the big fix idea for burgeoning unemployment, especially of the young, is discredited trickle-down economics. The G20 will call upon themselves to speed-up (+2%) growth, itself dependent on that plan for a surge in private investment on infrastructure.

All this suggests some holes in the master-plan for Brisbane. But it also points to serious structural flaws in the G20. Most fundamental is inadequately engaged leadership. There is too little focus on fundamental global challenges; too much technical clutter that should be left to others. The G20 is also institutionally weak. It has no secretariat. Its leaders probably rely too much on advice from IMF and OECD officials plus international bankers. It has no leadership continuity beyond the flimsy idea of the troika in which a team of ‘volunteers’, mainly bureaucrats seconded by the next chairman’s country, takes over afresh.

Moreover, despite being much more inclusive than the old elitist G7, the G20 needs to gain a permanent voice for the most vulnerable of low-income countries, the fragiles, known now as the ‘g7+’. Not unlike the IMF, the main problem is over-representation by Europe with 5/20 formal seats plus Spain with a permanent guest ticket. Any volunteers?

A by now perennial criticism is that the G20, both Leaders and Finance Ministers, have obsessed about mending Humpty after the global financial crisis at the expense of everything else we expect to concern global leaders. This is the last G20 before the UN membership at a summit next September sets in place a very ambitious global development agenda for the next 15 years, one set to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030. One might think the G20 would be devoting at least half of its time to this topic (and at least a sold chunk of the other half to Climate Change) leaving topics like the minutiae of new banking rules and efforts to resuscitate the WTO to technocrats. In practice the words ‘Post-2015 Agenda’ do not even appear once in the baseline framework posted on its Australian-managed website. How many lines will it merit in the Brisbane Action Plan? Perhaps a few passing words of moral support? Certainly expect no promises of aggressive unified G20 leadership at the critical Financing for Development conference next July in Ethiopia.

Intriguingly yesterday’s de facto summit of the G2 – USA and China – saw public pledges by Presidents Obama and Xi to work more closely on global issues, including specifically climate change. Is this a new opening for G20 leadership?

Is Canada a party to all this? Yes. We certainly had our sherpa at all the planning meetings. Moreover as Australia’s special ‘mate’ we have had privileged opportunities to influence them, beyond the idea of excluding Russia (something a BRICS’ public statement saying ‘hands off our G20’ quickly squelched). We probably support the incrementalist economics – but so far the Harper government has been dismissive of Opposition calls for a big infrastructure program using our new-found budget surplus. The government more broadly probably dislikes the idea of any action that challenges their dated view that the G7 is still the right place for serious global leadership. Overall we are happy to have had the Australians talking our party line, thus saving us from always being the spoiler.

John Sinclair, a Cambridge-educated economist, worked as a development practitioner at CIDA and the World Bank. He is a member of the McLeod Group. He is also a Distinguished Associate of the former North-South Institute.

New Hopes for Reconciliation in Sri Lanka

published in Embassy newspaper. Jan 2015.

JOHN SINCLAIR

We live in a troubled world, whether we are talking of Syria, Gaza
or our own Parliament building. However just days ago there was a bold and almost totally unexpected political transition. In Sri Lanka we saw a peaceful election in which an all-powerful president who had thrived on jingoism and cronyism for a decade or more was defeated by an ex-colleague, who only two months earlier had been his health minister, but is now empowered as President Maithripala Sirisena.

The question for every Sri Lankan, including the 150,000-plus living in Canada, is what sort of new politics will emerge? Can the country finally find peace and communal reconciliation?

History

But first, some context. For maybe 2,000 years this beautiful island on the tip of India, famed for its tea, was the peaceful home of three communities: a large Sinhala-speaking Buddhist majority, a substantial Tamil-speaking minority of Hindus and a smaller segment of Muslims, mainly also speaking Tamil.

With independence it became a vibrant democracy and an unusually successful model of equitable development. However, by the late ‘70s that democratic vibrancy had turned into bloody communal violence.

A cruel and long civil war emerged between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority, with at its heart a dispute about something that will mystify ordinary Canadians: the right of the minority to have devolved government, their own province in the areas where they were a large majority. Sound a bit like today’s Quebec?

In 2009 the Sinhalese-led government finally won the war of attrition with the LTTE (Tamil Tigers). Its much larger military fuelled by foreign arms finally overpowered what was always a small if effective and brutal rebel force. In the intervening years ordinary Tamils had lost livelihoods, homes and most cruelly children to the conflict.

The manner of the war’s ending ensured that reconciliation was most unlikely to mate- rialize. In the closing week many thousands of Tamil civilians were trapped between the two by now hopelessly unequal forces. They were mercilessly shelled, maybe by both, but mainly by the government. The government ignored pleas from Western and United Nations leaders who were welcoming the imminent end of the war but demanded that the trapped Tamil civil- ians must be first allowed to escape.

The government refused, instead imposed victor’s rights and has done little over the five years since to promote reconciliation. To this day the government has kept troops all over the Tamil north. The government has consistently rejected pro- posals for an independent inquiry.

The election

Fast forward to November 2014. Two-time President Mahinda Rajapaksa had organized a constitutional amendment giving himself more powers, including the abolition of a traditional two-term cap. He had a cabinet made up of boot-lickers and brothers and strutted around being described as almost a king. He announced the date for what he saw as a third-time electoral coronation.

But to his shock just a few days later one of his own ministers, Maithripala Sirisena, stood up in public and said he and about a third of the Rajapaksa cabinet had reached a secret deal with all the opposition parties to switch sides and stand against him.

Rajapaksa soldiered on, but looked worried. The Tamil communities, Hindu and Muslim, he had ignored were perhaps a quarter of the electorate. In gossipy Colombo the press and bloggers were “seeing” Rajapaksa plots everywhere. The fear was that he would use the police and army to block Tamil voters by scare tactics or order the electoral commissioner to declare their votes invalid. Just rumour or maybe fact, the Sirisena government is now to formally investigate a secret midnight meeting on elec- tion day of security chiefs with Rajapaksa.

The good news is that key public institutions—army, police, election commission— for reasons of integrity or survivalism, did not bend. Rajapaksa simply conceded on the day after the elections, even before the full vote was counted. Sirisena is president and indeed claims he now commands a majority in the parliament due to desertions from the government party to him.

Many Sri Lankans, especially Tamils, are pinching themselves to see if it is not all
a dream. Can they believe the promises of more transparency and an anti-corruption campaign or a new compact cabinet drawn from across the political spectrum, including those representing minority groups?

The Indian government is doing the same: having sat unhelpfully on the fence for the last few years, members wonder if the new words of friendship from Sirisena are real, a new beginning, especially when Rajapaksa had made so many deals—financial, political, even military—with an assertive China, which has multiple new investments in the country including industrial ventures and new ports. China is also no doubt worrying whether it is going to have to write off the cash and politi- cal influence. By a felicitous coincidence the Pope arrived this week to immediately plead for action on reconciliation.

Canada, as most major governments, has quickly congratulated the new president. We also want action on devolution. What is less clear is what concrete support we might offer. Devolution in particular will need new or massively rebuilt infrastructure and institutional capacity.

Will we even help finance some of our expatriate Tamil citizens to return and invest in new commercial ventures? For several years now Sri Lanka has been a non-priority for the aid folks in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.

What is the value of maybe 100,000 Tamil votes in Ontario? Have we now $10 million a year of new aid to help with communal rec- onciliation in Sri Lanka?

John Sinclair, a Cambridge-educated economist, has worked as a development practitioner at the former CIDA and the World Bank. He lived in Sri Lanka for several years.

editor@embassynews.ca

Global Partnership ready for Action?

Posted on CIPS site, Ottawa University. Feb. 25, 2015

Link: http://cips.uottawa.ca/is-the-global-partnership-ready-for-action/

The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation was born at a global conference held in Busan, Korea in 2011 to confront concerns that old-fashioned aid (ODA) was not working. Billions were being spent and the Global South’s poor and vulnerable remained frozen in their fate. Grant aid had to be understood as a necessary but not sufficient condition. Out of the Busan conference came a more inclusive concept, Development Co-operation, embracing elements such as trade, private sector, human rights and environmental sustainability.

Western donors, including Canada, had warily signed on to another part of the answer, ‘country ownership’, which implies that aid succeeds only when programs are designed and implemented by the beneficiaries rather than being imposed by outsiders. Another set of actors, the BRICS and other emerging economies, has now entered the donor arena as well as being seen as the West’s saviour from the worst impact of the global financial crisis. The past decade has seen them become a major force in development co-operation.

The presence of these new actors provided both an opportunity and a geopolitical challenge for the Global Partnership (GP) as a bridge between industrialized North and emerging South. But moving on is proving complex and demanding. The GP has not failed, but success is far from sure.

A key opportunity is almost ready for prime time: this September will see enactment of the UN’s Post-2015 Agenda, the principal goal of which is a world free from extreme poverty. The GP has made a substantive contribution to the implementation of Post-2015 its prime objective.

The GP’s first High Level meeting, hosted in April 2014 by Mexico, had 1500 participants: old donors, new providers, an increasingly differentiated array of recipients, civil society organizations (CSOs) and not least the private sector. The stakeholder-mix wins a prize for inclusiveness, but is still far from being successful effectiveness. Indeed, in a crowded field of competing actors, elements of a surprisingly more assertive UN system are challenging the GP on relevance. Some in the G77 (the UN caucus of developing countries) see it as lacking legitimacy and being just a revamped OECD donor instrument.

2015 will be a challenging year for the GP under its new co-chairs, the Netherlands, Mexico and Malawi, who are working with a very modest support team of officials from the OECD and the UNDP. The next six months will see the GP trying to establish its credibility as an organization that can deliver innovative support on the ground and transform from talk-shop to delivery vehicle.

But many of its members worry that the GP still has too little depth. It is fine to hold conferences and regional workshops, but the ultimate test is whether Southern partners see relevant and credible action that helps brings poverty-reducing programming and better governance at the local level. Trust was reported as a shaky commodity inside the GP, yet is essential for success. CSOs who clapped at Busan when they were formally recognized as independent development actors now grumble at being often excluded on the ground.

The key breakthrough–engaging the new emerging countries—has not happened. They do not even contribute to set-piece global meetings, except via the occasional junior official sent as a note-taker. GP thinking is still dominated by OECD countries who seem hesitant to share or boldly step forward. Equally wary ‘new’ donors see no real merit in taking up the challenge because they see no real partnership on offer.

The time frame is getting tighter, with September set for the Post-2015 Agenda Summit sign-off in New York. In July, GP member donors, Canada included, must find the will to reach consensus on how to pay for the implementation of Post-2015 at the UN global conference on Financing for Development. They are hoping to finesse this by talking of ‘innovative financial mechanisms’—which significantly means diverting scarce grant ODA to subsidize quasi-commercial lending to ‘leverage’ a stronger role for private foreign investors.

Any resolution will be a hard sell. These are hard times for OECD countries. Low-income developing countries are also wary, even if impatient to get back on the growth ladder. They know they need to raise more resources domestically, but they also need a bigger share in assured increases in grant aid (especially given that most of the proposed ‘innovations’ seem likely to only benefit middle-income developing countries rather than themselves).

Are too many eggs being placed in one rather shaky basket? Most private companies, even the big multinationals, do not see ‘pro-poor development’ as their thing, wanting open markets and more opportunities for profit. Canada’s Harper government seems more confused than most: it essentially wants already-diminished grant aid further diverted in order to facilitate Canadian commercial interests.

So what more can one hope for from the GP beyond better monitoring systems or small pilot programs called Voluntary Initiatives? To be relevant to the remaining billion poorest and to Post-2015, these initiatives need to be quickly scalable.

The GP contains the powerful donors of the North, but they are not adequately exercising the leverage of which they are capable. To succeed, they must demonstrate their commitment to partnership starting with high-level dialogue with key new donors and leading partner countries. The Partnership is only just now getting its troops together, (including the senior officials who still effectively shape the agenda of the World Bank and other multilateral institutions) to sell the practical merits of an effective Global Partnership.

Time is running out to make the partnership concrete. Hesitant steps, worse a stumble, could leave the GP unable to deliver its now core mission of becoming a key partner in implementing the Post-2015 Agenda.