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icono de curso

Development Finance: emerging challenges and governance


Credits: 4 ECTS

Second semester

Pathway core courses




Global debates about the governance of international development often boil down to money: How should we finance ambitious agendas like the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? Who should pay for the response to emerging global challenges like climate change, fragility, and cross-border health emergencies? And should development assistance still flow to fast-growing emerging economies like Brazil, China, and India that are now running sizeable aid programmes of their own, but where hundreds of million of people are still living in extreme poverty?

The course will assess emerging financing trends and proposed solutions with a keen eye on the underlying incentives and political constellations that explain the behaviour of different actors. Throughout, we will be taking a critical approach, focusing both on the content of the policies and financing proposals that are put on the table, and on emerging tensions between ‘conventional’ donors, rising powers, and aid recipients that often prevent more effective and efficient responses to given development challenges. The course will prioritize multilateral over bilateral financing mechanisms, even though we will also devote some time to discussing emerging bilateral aid programmes of rising powers like China. We will conclude with a review of increasing efforts -and challenges- to improve the use of the growing amount of domestic resources within developing countries to tackle local problems like poverty.

The 12 week-long course will be divided into four broad segments:

  1. An introduction to the ‘politics’ of organized development assistance, with a focus on competing accountability relationships between decision makers in donor and recipient countries and the debate on aid effectiveness (Weeks 1 and 2)
  2. An overview of major approaches in multilateral developing finance, including the more ‘traditional’ grant-based‘ model of the UN, guarantee- and credit-based finance delivered through multilateral development Banks like the World Bank; and increasing flows of south-to-south aid (Weeks 3 to 5)
  3. A review of new innovative financing approaches, such as impact investment, risk- and insurance-based finance, etc.
  4. An introduction to the debate about domestic resource mobilization within developing countries, including in the areas of taxation and ongoing efforts to curb illicit outflows of finance from the developing world. 


The course will follow an interactive format, based on short introductory lectures, student presentations and student-led case studies. We will typically begin with a 30-45 minute interactive lecture, followed by a seminar in which students will be given a range of tasks to perform in order to consolidate their understanding of the course content, including discussions, case studies and student presentations. Students must read the required reading prior to class (these will be available on course webpage). Additional readings are provided for students who wish to deepen their understanding of the course content.

The course will be evaluated as follows:

  • A final ‘take home’ exam (40%)
  • Class presentations (25%). Ca 15 minutes, presented by groups of two students
  • Short individual essay of ca 1500 words (20%). The essay should provide a critical analysis of the organization or mechanism covered in your presentation and can include aspects not covered in your talk. It is due 1 week after your presentation. You should use and reference external literature where possible.
  • In class participation (15%)

Competences, learning outcomes and teaching activities (PDF)