A new briefing paper published by RecourseThe Big Shift Global CoalitionTrend Asia and Chrisitan Aid calls out the private sector-driven “Bigger, Bolder, Better” MDB (Multilateral Development Bank) reform agenda. The MDB reform process has evolved in the past years with the G20’s review proposing the “Better, Bolder, Bigger” Banks framework – the so-called triple agenda. This was echoed by World Bank President Ajay Banga during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group (IMF-WBG) Annual Meetings in Marrakech in 2023 when he called for the WBG to become “better and bigger” in order to address global challenges such as climate change, poverty, and pandemics.

MDBs however have long pursued a private-sector first approach by increasing the private sector’s involvement in development finance, despite clear evidence that blended finance initiatives and other attempts to mobilise private capital have had very limited success to date. The framework of “bigger” and “better” MDBs therefore operates on wrong presumptions. By framing the MDB reform process within the ambit of private sector-led development, MDBs risk limiting the reform agenda towards the same business-as-usual direction that prioritises private sector profit over people’s rights and welfare and exacerbates existing inequalities in the Global South.

This briefing paper looks at some of the most important red flags in the current way MDBs operate and explains why doubling down on this private sector-first approach in the context of MDB reform is perilous for both people and planet.

Photo by Yating Yang/Pexels