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Public Development Banks and the Sustainable Development Goals

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Faced with systemic issues such as information frictions or the difficulty to price social and environmental benefits, markets often struggle in aligning existing resources with long-term policy objectives such as those enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the same time, Public Development Banks (PDBs) and Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) have historically been proactive developers and users of blended finance, thus accumulating knowledge and experience that could be used to orient markets efficiently around social and environmental targets.

A large knowledge effort underpins an ongoing research agenda on the role of PDBs in SDG implementation, with ramifications and interlinkages at the global, regional and national level. Central to this agenda is the question of whether, and how, PDBs can play a role to accelerate development efforts, in effective, strategic and impactful ways. As the alignment between policy objectives and development finance is by definition context specific, there is a large need, beyond technical assistance, for a dynamic learning process to better analyze, turn into objectives and orient, policy and practice alike.


GDN's program on Public Development Banks and the Sustainable Development Goals builds upon the Finance in Common initiative launched in 2020 to discuss how Public Development Banks can best step in to align Global Development Finance with the Sustainable Development Goals. The institutional impetus is supported by a World Research Initiative that the present program aims to expand. The partnership aims at producing research articles that develop lessons for a more representative, coordinated, targeted, and enlightened system of PDBs and DFIs around the implementation of the SDGs. The research produced under the program takes place alongside other projects in the global architecture of the international research initiative on PDBs.

With funding from the French development agency, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), five research papers are being coordinated on:

  • The counter-cyclical role of Public Development Banks post-Covid19 | Title: How Development Banks helped the Covid-19 Recovery, and Lessons for the Future. Authors: Stephany Griffith-Jones (professor, Columbia U.), Diana Barrowclough (senior economist UNCTAD), and Vaibhav Mishra (researcher, UNDESA).  
  • What vision for an architecture of Public Development Banks to best catalyze impetuses for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals | Title: Public Development Banks and the SDGs: A global architecture for global good. Author(s): C. P. Chandrasekhar (Economic Columnist and Consultant, former professor Jawaharlal Nehru University).
  • Limits and improvement possibilities in Public Development Banks’ projects on Gender and Climate | Title: Walking the Talk: Insight into the Public Development Banks’ Operational Framework for Gender-responsive Climate Change Action. Author(s): Agnes Babugura (Dean of Research, CPD Points), Camila Villard Duran (professor, University of Sao Paulo), and Mariola Acosta (consultant, FAO). 
  • Public Development Banks’ potential in Agricultural and Food systems to tackle food and nutrition insecurity from an agroecological perspective | Title: Financing the Agroecological Transformation of Agri-food Systems. Author(s): Rajeswari S. Raina (professor, Shiv Nadar University), and Tara Nair (professor, Gujarat Institute of Development Research).
  • Public Development Banks’ involvement in Agricultural Finance in Sub-Saharan Africa | Title: Successes, Failures and Challenges of bringing PDBs to the forefront of a sustainable agricultural adaptation and transition. Author(s): Tancrède Voituriez (researcher, IDDRI), Victor Okoruwa (professor and director of academic planning, University of Ibadan), Ogheneruemu Obi-Egbedi (lecturer, University of Ibadan), Gracious M. Diiro (lecturer, Makerere University), Elina Amadhila (senior lecturer, University of Namibia).

For more information, please write to Brendan Harnoys-Vannier on