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GPI for Pandemic Preparedness & Response – Could Scotland take the lead?

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A member blog post by

Jonathan Glennie, Director

Global Public Investment

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A blog by Jonathan Glennie, Director for Global Public Investment at Equal International

The current development finance architecture is not meeting the world’s needs and hasn’t been for many years. Many of these problems arise from a fundamental design based on an outdated narrative setting up rich countries in the Global North as ‘donors’ to the poor Global South. However, the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the Black Lives Matter, decolonising development and climate movements have begun to challenge this limited understanding, especially when applied to key public goods.

Global Public Investment is a new approach gaining increasing momentum. It is designed to move beyond a system where countries pay for global commons via limited, fragmented, and often bilateral (even private) assistance, to a system based upon sustained co-responsibility. Richer and poorer countries would work together via intermittent, high-level priority-setting meetings and more regular technical follow up. All countries would contribute on a fractional, fair and ongoing basis, with all having a say in how those monies were allocated. Some of the monies would be allocated to local investments with a wider (global) public return, others would flow into regional and multilateral initiatives.

By bringing more countries to the table as contributors and decision-makers alike, GPI would not only raise more money, but it would also ensure that those funds went to where they could make the most difference.

The idea behind the GPI process is that All contribute, All decide, All benefit. By diversifying decision-making structures and creating mutual responsibility for how money is mobilised and shared, the GPI proposition allows regions and countries to take responsibility for tackling global crises collectively.

In the words of Helen Clark, former New Zealand Prime Minister and former UNDP Administrator,

“The GPI approach is our best bet for modernising international public finance for the 21st century.”

In a new paper published in January 2022, we explore how a functioning system of GPI could actually operate for a particular sector of global cooperation. With snowballing agreement on the principles underpinning GPI, the challenge is now putting it into practice. This paper takes us a significant step further down that road, and I do urge you to read it and engage.

The paper demonstrates how GPI would meet substantial PPR financing needs in five basic ways:

1. fair share financing for ongoing investments

2. inclusive governance and decision-making

3. public investments for equity

4. reduced volatility through statutory financing

5. countering nationalism with incentives for a common framework

Lysa John, Secretary-General of Civicus, put it like this,

“As countries struggle to address health, social and economic fall-outs of the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing remains clear: the ideals of equality, dignity and justice are as relevant now as they were during civil rights and anti-colonial movements of the previous century… Rethinking aid as a GPI is critical if we are to secure our undeniably inter-dependent future.”

In recent times, Scotland has led from the front on global climate finance when it announced at COP26 that it would set up the world’s first Loss and Damage fund. Could Scotland set an example once more and push for GPI?

The Scottish Government was lauded by experts and campaigners across the world for its commitment to Loss and Damage, and although small, their new fund was welcomed and has set a precedent for what is possible. Other sub-state actors like Wallonia followed suit heeding calls from the G77 for the establishment of a Glasgow Finance Facility for Loss and Damage. Scotland, as an influential sub-state actor can lead the way, catalysing commitments from others. The time has come to do this with development finance through GPI.

I would welcome your feedback and encourage you to get in touch for more information. 2022 will be an important year for global cooperation and the GPI approach is growing in momentum.

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