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 ‘There are no ‘whales’ when it comes to development finance’


In international finance, a ‘whale’ is a market-actor with enough resources to unilaterally move the price of an asset on a public market; achieving a market outcome while acting independently. Though not entirely, of course. The price-shifts driven by ‘whales’ depend on other market actors responding to an initial (larger-than-usual) signal, to induce a truly dramatic effect.

Our ambitions in terms of the 2030 Agenda represent nothing more or less than fundamental human dignity – for all. It is a tall order. And even in a country like Bangladesh – one of the fastest growing economies of the last decade, allowing us to lift millions out of poverty year on year – there are no ‘whales’ when it comes to development finance. The truth is neither public nor private finance alone can achieve the transformative agenda we have set for ourselves on the road to 2030.

Development actors must innovate if they wish to signal to other actors, and induce the scale of effect our ambition demands. And each entry to this paper describes efforts by multilateral organizations to do just that – point to new, and increasingly tested, ways to direct development financing to where it is needed and leverage other resources, and doing so in ways that are unmistakably aligned with the effectiveness principles.

  • Marcos Neto, Fabienne Michaux, and Sara-Lisa Ostarvik, at UNDP’s Finance Sector Hub, share their experiences with instruments designed to bridge the financing, and accountability, gaps, building on the principles of country ownership, inclusive partnerships and transparency and accountability through Integrated National Financing Frameworks, SDG Investor Maps, and SDG Impact standards.
  • Shantanu Matur, Lead Advisor for Global and Multilateral Engagement at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), shares their take on how IFAD and other multilateral financial institutions can work with local public development banks for locally-owned and inclusive rural transformation.
  • Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director of the OECD’s Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD), takes a forward look at how a results-oriented and inclusive approach can be the basis for strengthening multilateral finance for pandemic preparedness and response, so that our response to the next emergency builds on the lessons from this one.


This paper is the second in a series emerging from the Global Partnership’s work on ‘effective multilateral support’: framing an understanding of an effective multilateral system by way of the effectiveness principles – country ownership, inclusive partnerships, a focus on results, and mutual accountability.