EIB's big climate plan, impeachment hearings, and a 'last-mile' education strategy: This week in development

Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor. Photo by: Jack Gruber / USA TODAY

A new strategy for out-of-school children, revelations about U.S. aid at the impeachment hearings, and new lending terms at the Asian Development Bank. This week in development:

The European Investment Bank will not take on any new fossil fuel investments from 2022, after member states concluded a highly scrutinized negotiation over the institution’s new energy policy last week. “We will stop financing fossil fuels and we will launch the most ambitious climate investment strategy of any public financial institution anywhere,” said EIB President Werner Hoyer in a statement. That strategy includes “unlocking” €1 trillion ($1.1 trillion) in climate- and environment-related investment in the decade leading up to 2030, and comes with a commitment to align the EIB’s financing activities with the goals of the Paris climate agreement by the end of 2020. Multilateral development banks are currently engaged in a process to determine what exactly “Paris alignment” means for their portfolios. Hoyer described the EIB’s new commitments — which were temporarily delayed when the bank’s board of directors failed to reach a deal in October — as a “quantum leap” in the institution’s climate ambition. Climate advocates and supporters of the new plan hope it will motivate other multilateral finance institutions to similarly divest from fossil fuels and shift their portfolios toward supporting low-carbon economies.

The world’s only fund dedicated to enrolling out-of-school children launched a new strategy Thursday at the World Innovation Summit for Education in Doha. Educate A Child, which is part of the Qatar-based Education Above All foundation, unveiled its new “Zero Strategy” — with help from pop star Shakira — which aims to work alongside governments that are close to achieving universal primary education but struggling to reach the “last mile” of school-age children who are not enrolled. More than 260 million children are still out of school — roughly 60 million of whom are of primary school age — according to recent UNESCO projections. Education advocates worry that these numbers are unlikely to improve, given that donors are largely focused on increasing learning outcomes for students already in school.

The impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine has surfaced questions about the U.S. government’s foreign aid practices. While the $400 million in funding to Ukraine that Trump froze during the summer was security, not development assistance, the witnesses who have testified in the U.S. House of Representatives have offered a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse of the role of aid in American foreign policy. Officials from the U.S. State Department detailed how the U.S. government conducts anti-corruption programs — and clarified that Trump’s attempts to direct Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to specific cases would be highly unusual. They also related an incident in which the U.S. Agency for International Development had to be steered away from pursuing a public-private partnership with Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company known for corrupt practices. Asked whether he had ever before seen foreign aid conditioned on the personal or political interests of the president of the United States, acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor replied, “I have not.”

The Asian Development Bank will introduce new lending terms for higher-income countries beginning in 2021, the bank announced Tuesday. The bank divides countries into three groups: A, B, and C. Group C countries are at the higher end of the gross national income spectrum and are only eligible for market-based loans. Within that category, there is a fairly wide range of per capita incomes, and the bank currently offers the same financing terms to all group C countries. Under the new arrangement, countries in this group will be divided into several subgroups. Those with higher GNI per capita will have higher maturity premiums. The new lending terms are part of the bank’s new strategy, which aims to take a more nuanced approach to supporting countries with varying development needs and to respond to questions about why the bank continues to lend to large economies, particularly China. The ADB is scheduled to announce the results of its next presidential election on Dec. 2. Masatsugu Asakawa, currently special adviser to Japan’s prime minister and minister of finance, is the only candidate on the ballot to succeed President Takehiko Nakao.

About the author

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    Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.