Devex-UN Foundation ‘innovative finance’ campaign wraps up

Busannovate contributors Muhammad Yunus, Brian Atwood, Maura O'Neill, Emmanuel Nnadozie, Franck Wiebe, Humberto Laudares, Richard Leftley, Isobel Coleman, Jacob Lief, Daniele Dionisio and Bruce Jenks. Photo collage by Devex

Innovative financing can help save money while boosting the global economy and allowing less industrialized countries to take charge of their development.

The importance of innovative financing for development was showcased at the recent Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan. There, world leaders agreed to “further develop innovative financial mechanisms to mobilize private finance for shared development goals.”

Over the past month, in a collaboration with the United Nations Foundation, Devex has featured ideas from some of the world’s top thinkers on innovative financing – including Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus and Brian Atwood, who, as OECD Development Assistance Committee chair, was one of the hosts in Busan.

We called this campaign “Busannovate: Making the Money go Further,” because in tough budgetary times, that’s what it’s really all about: finding ways to increase value for money. The reader response has been inspiring, and we look forward to continuing the conversation on our website and social media in the days ahead.

“With the population of the world now topping 7 billion people,” Yunus wrote, “improving global health outcomes has increasingly become a concern in development agendas. In these hard economic times, we can no longer exclusively depend on the good graces of donor governments alone. Rather, we must think creatively about new ways to financially support global health and development goals, without relying on increasing rates of development assistance.”

A special focus of Busannovate was on ways to improve global health through initiatives such as the U.N. Foundation’s Pledge Guarantee on Health. However, topics ranged from microfinance to impact investing, from the role of traditional donors to the participation of the private sector and others in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Yunus kicked off Busannovate with a spirited call for more innovative financing for health. Global health was also the focus of an interview with the U.N. Foundation’s Kevin Starace and a guest opinion by EU advisor Daniele Dionisio, who wrote about Asia-Pacific geopolitics and the role pharmaceutical companies in boosting access to treatment.

What role do traditional donors play in boosting innovative finance? Several contributors shared their thoughts on this important question, including Atwood in an essay that nicely captures the debate in Busan. Bruce Jenks, the former director of UNDP’s Bureau for Resources and Strategic Partnerships, meanwhile, wrote about the changing role of the United Nations in fighting global poverty, and Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Isobel Coleman highlighted the convening power of traditional donors.

Tarry Asoka’s professional experience in Nigeria informed his call for a paradigm shift in international development. Ubuntu Education Fund co-founder Jacob Lief discussed the power of small-scale assistance in his organization’s field projects in South Africa. And Emmanuel Nnadozie, the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa’s director of economic development, described how innovative financing can help – and already is helping – reduce poverty and improve opportunity in Africa.

Humberto Laudares, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s innovative financing officer, described some of the issues to consider before ramping up innovative financing. MicroEnsure founder Richard Leftley, meanwhile, tackled the issue from a different perspective, focusing on a common challenge aid groups encounter as they explore non-traditional financing: At what point should grant funding be replaced by more commercial forms of funding?

Many of these writers shared successful examples of innovative finance, including Franck Wiebe, the Millennium Challenge Corp.’s chief economist, who described how his organization is stretching precious aid dollars, and Maura O’Neill, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s chief innovation officer, who talked about her experience mashing economists and venture capitalists.

These guest opinions were full of insight, passion and optimism for a future without extreme poverty and hunger. So was the feedback we’ve received from readers like you. Please continue reading, sharing and commenting to advance this important global conversation way beyond the Busan gathering that lend it its name.

About the author

  • Rolf Rosenkranz

    Rolf Rosenkranz oversees a talented team of in-house journalists, correspondents and guest contributors located around the globe. Since joining Devex in early 2008, Rolf has been instrumental in growing its fledgling news operation into the leading online source for global development news and analysis. Previously, Rolf was managing editor at Inside Health Policy, a subscription-based news service in Washington. He has reported from Africa for the Johannesburg-based Star and its publisher, Independent News & Media, as well as the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, a German daily.