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New Frontiers in International Development Finance (NeF DeF)

The New Frontiers in International Development Finance (NeF DeF) project brings together research and policy thinking on the law, regulation and governance impacts of the shifting landscape of international development finance.

Background and Overview

A significant shift in the policy architecture of international development finance is taking place. Under the aegis of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other international agreements, such as the UN Framework on Climate Change (and the Paris Agreement), plans are underway to move away from more traditional public financing of sustainable development to the active engagement of the private sector in the mobilisation and delivery of development finance.

The agenda of private sector finance for sustainable development has accelerated following the coronavirus pandemic and as the international community looks towards addressing the climate crisis.

This evolving landscape poses significant challenges to the regulation and governance of the international development architecture and broader transnational economic governance. As new partnerships and modalities of engagement are formed, existing structures of governance and accountability are reconstituted, reshaping the relationships between different actors to a development finance transaction and reconfiguring the regulatory modalities through which these relationships are governed.

The NeF DeF project seeks to engage in an interdisciplinary examination of these changes in international development finance policy and practice, drawing from insights from a range of disciplines including law, politics, economics and finance, sociology and geography.

Our focus is to map, assess and critique this evolving architecture and what this means for international development cooperation and global economic governance.

Thematic Areas

In mapping the architecture of private financing for sustainable development, our project focuses on five significant arenas of study that have emerged as key sites for global policy, practice and regulation in the architecture of private finance for sustainable development:

  • Development finance institutions (DFIs) and multilateral development banks (MDBs)

  • Climate and sustainability finance

  • Digital financial technologies in the global economy

  • Philanthropic and social finance

  • Private finance and debt sustainability