1st Edition

The Future of Aid Global Public Investment

By Jonathan Glennie Copyright 2021
    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    International cooperation has never been more needed, but the current system of “aid” is outdated and ineffective. The Future of Aid calls for a wholesale restructuring of the aid project, a totally new approach fit for the challenges of the 21st century: Global Public Investment.

    Across the world, billions of people are struggling to get by in unequal and unsustainable societies, and international public finance, which should be part of the answer, is woefully deficient. Engagingly written by a well-known expert in the field, The Future of Aid calls for a series of paradigm shifts.

    • From a narrow focus on poverty to a broader attack on inequality and sustainability.
    • From seeing international public money as a temporary last resort, to valuing it as a permanent force for good.
    • From North-South transfers to a collective effort, with all paying in and all benefitting.
    • From outdated post-colonial institutions to representative decision-making.
    • From the othering and patronising language of “foreign aid”, to the empowering concept of Global Public Investment.

    Ten years ago, in The Trouble with Aid, Jonathan Glennie highlighted the dangers of aid dependency and the importance of looking beyond aid. Now he calls for a revolution in the way that we think about the role of public money to back up our ambitious global objectives. In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, it is time for a new era of internationalism.

    1. The beginning of the end?  2. Scaling up: National > Regional > Global  3. AMBITION: From survive to thrive  4. FUNCTION: From last resort to first priority  5. GEOGRAPHY: From north/south to universal  6. GOVERNANCE: From hierarchical to horizontal  7. NARRATIVE: From charity to investment  8. Towards internationalism 


    Jonathan Glennie is a writer and campaigner on human rights, international cooperation, sustainable development and poverty. His work looks in particular at the changing nature of international cooperation as dominant paradigms and global economic relationships evolve. He has held senior positions in several international organisations, including Save the Children, Christian Aid and Ipsos. He has published two previous books on aid (The Trouble With Aid: Why Less Could Mean More for Africa and Aid, Growth and Poverty, with Andy Sumner) and helped set up The Guardian’s Global Development website. As a consultant, he has worked with governments, international agencies and civil society organisations as they renew their strategies for a new era. He lives in Colombia.

    Internationalist perspectives seem to be losing ground just when the world needs them most. This can be changed, if people put pressure on leaders to choose bold responses based on solidarity. Jonathan Glennie’s short but powerful book makes a convincing case for Global Public Investment based on statutory contributions (rather than patronising "aid" from rich to poor countries) as a necessary element to deal with the challenges we face.

    Jayati Ghosh

    Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi


    Most people think of foreign aid in terms of humanitarian assistance. Jonathan Glennie has bolder ambitions. He suggests using aid for global public investments that make everyone better off. With COVID-19 underlining the inequalities and unsustainability of the current structure of development finance, big new ideas are needed. That is what this book provides.

    Homi Kharas

    Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution


    At a time when reforming international co-operation has become a matter of urgency and all perspectives should be heard, Jonathan Glennie’s thought-provoking book sets the stage for a paradigm shift, with its proposal for global public investment.

    Mario Pezzini

    Director, OECD Development Centre


    Jonathan Glennie brilliantly recommends the transformation of foreign aid into Global Public Investment and, in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals, he advocates for a universal and sustainable approach, to renew our understanding of the international system. A reading must!

    Patti Londoño

    Former Colombian foreign minister


    It is hard not to feel overwhelmed by the relentless onslaught of current global events. The planet that sustains us is barely coping with extreme weather events, bush fires, and the decimation of wildlife. Conflicts and other human-made disasters are driving mass movements of populations to seek safety, refuge and better livelihoods and gains in poverty reduction are in serious threat of being reversed. The Covid-19 pandemic could not have hit at a worse time. Nonetheless, the amalgamation of these events could be the catalyst for the change we need to address these challenges – and in The Future of Aid: Global Public Investment, Jonathan Glennie, persuasively, provides important insights and critical analyses to deliberate on how we might do this… Based on scholarly reviews and dialogue, The Future of Aid: Global Public Investment is a demonstration of a rare skill in an academic author; the ability to combine fairly dense ideas with engaging prose to make the text accessible to a broad audience. It is timely and required reading for those tasked to engage in international public finance

    Pascale Allotey

    Director, United Nations University International Institute for Global Health


    This publication is timely and necessary. It not only provides very practical ideas on how countries could come together to fight immediate global challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, but also offers a framework on how to sustainably finance the SDGs. It is a first of its kind and should shape global policy and development co-operation in years to come. It is a must read for any policy maker and practitioner!

    Vitalice Meja

    Executive Director, Reality of Aid Africa


    Jonathan Glennie revives the conversation on development cooperation at the right time. The world can no longer be seen as a patchwork of countries, but as a global community working towards common goals. From the objectives to the practices of development cooperation, this book presents the key areas of debate and the types of creative thinking needed in the future. The book is an invitation to the development community to re-imagine itself by questioning some strongly held beliefs about international cooperation. The world has changed from how it was seen at the beginning of this century. This is a must-read for anyone interested in a new international response to global problems. 

    Andrea Ordóñez 

    Director, Southern Voice


    By boldly thinking outside the box and challenging the conventional wisdom regarding aid, this timely book offers an entirely new approach to how we should confront the global challenges of the 21st century. Calling for a sweeping change in the objectives, concepts and practice of development finance, it will garner support from scholars and practitioners alike.

    André de Mello e Souza

    Senior Researcher, Institute for Applied Economic Research, Rio de Janeiro


    Global social justice is the ultimate global public good. We need Global Public Investment to make global social justice happen. This brilliant book explains how. You should read it.

    Gorik Ooms

    Honorary Professor of Global Health Law & Governance, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine


    Abandoning the hierarchical and demeaning concept of "aid" for the dignified and responsible concept of Global Public Investment, Glennie shifts focus from national priorities to the global good. GPI is an exciting new concept in which public funds are a proactive and long-term investment in the common endeavour of development.

    Nora Lester Murad

    Founder, Dalia Association, Ramallah


    Covid-19 threatens to plunge millions of people back into poverty. We need unprecedented ambition to respond to this extraordinary crisis, and to other challenges such as climate change. This book sets out one part of the answer.

    Andy Sumner

    Professor of International Development, King's College, London


    Today’s world is very different from that in which international aid was created. New international powers have emerged, the range of official and private providers has enlarged, and new and more complex issues threaten our future progress and wellbeing. In accordance, we are obliged to go beyond aid and transit to a more ambitious and inclusive system of public collective action at the international level. Jonathan Glennie draws up some of the required components of this alternative approach. In an illuminating book, he offers to us a fresh view on this topic, with defiant proposals and illuminating insights.

    José Antonio Alonso

    Professor of Applied Economics, Complutense University, Madrid, and member of UN Committee for Development Policy


    For those interested in international development, this book could hardly be more timely. The traditional model of rich north, poor south, and the aid paradigm which was part of it, suffered a major body-blow with the global financial crash of 2008/9.  Coronavirus is a more recent and powerful incentive to think about the world and the relationship between its constituent parts in a different way. This thoughtful and provocative volume does not pretend to have all the answers. It is a beginning, an invaluable contribution to the thinking required to set us on the path to finding the concessional resources needed to address the global challenges - enshrined within the Sustainable Development Goals - which we must address urgently, and together.

    Myles Wickstead

    Visiting Professor, King's College, London, and former UK Ambassador to Ethiopia


    The Future of Aid: Global Public Investment usefully exposes gaps between old paradigms and new realities in international development cooperation. While arguing to retire the concept of "foreign aid," Glennie maintains that international public finance is a unique resource for greater equity and sustainability, amidst increasingly diverse financing sources and complex risks like climate change and Covid-19. His proposals for adapting development finance to meet the ambition of the SDGs are certain to stimulate thinking and debate. 

    Navid Hanif

    Director, Financing for Sustainable Development Office, UNDESA


    A new vision for global public finance has been long overdue. Jonathan Glennie’s concept of Global Public Investment (GPI) comes at the right time, when we urgently need new ideas to shape the future of public finance. Poverty, inequality, fragility and access to food, water and other essential resources remain critical headwinds the world must tackle to become sustainable and stable. None of them can be tackled without adequate financing. They require new international financing mechanisms which build on the past but respond to the future. GPI is an idea whose time has come.

    Harpinder Collacott

    Executive Director, Development Initiatives


    The change of approach this book is calling for fits perfectly in the spirit that guided the development of Agenda 2030, with solidarity as the backdrop. Global Public Investment is a platform meriting proper consideration… and a potential rallying point as we plan ahead how to reconstruct the socio-economic fabric after the pandemic.

    Francisco Songane

    Former Minister of Health of Mozambique and Founding Director of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health


    Aid is obsolete. But, in an era of pandemic, climate change and rising inequality effective international cooperation is an existential issue for humanity. In The Future of Aid: Global Public Investment Jonathan Glennie lays out both a new paradigm and a practical agenda for international public financing to achieve social justice and sustainability. The arguments are radical but feasible - a 'must read' for anyone interested in global development. 

    David Hulme

    Professor of Development Studies and Executive Director, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester


    Jonathan Glennie has long been one of the most original and insightful voices within the aid world. In this revolutionary book he brilliantly insists that we raise the level of our ambition in the way we fund public goods and services globally. The era of aid is over. In these pages Glennie sketches out the beginnings of a new paradigm for a fairer, greener and more stable world.

    Simon Reid-Henry

    Director, Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London


    The world needs to build back better following the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis. This will require an extraordinary amount of resources in all countries. Jonathan Glennie’s innovative concept of Global Public Investment offers the best opportunity to date to succeed in this vital effort.

    Christoph Benn

    Director, Global Health Diplomacy, Joep Lange Institute and former Director of External Relations, Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria


    This book articulates what many intuitively feel but few say out loud: that aid needs reformed, increased and maintained for the long term. Not charity, but smart investment in a more just and sustainable world. Glennie eloquently lays out a new vision for the necessary international public finance required. If you are serious about fighting inequality and climate change this is a must read.

    David McNair

    Executive Director, Global Policy, The ONE Campaign


    The COVID-19 pandemic should have shown how international cooperation for the provision of global public goods and fighting inequalities is more needed than ever. But it didn't; instead, we witness a growing noise about deglobalization. That's why Glennie's The Future of Aid: Global Public Investment hits home. It reframes the development agenda, tackling its goals, means and narratives. Glennie's book brings the fight against inequality to the fore, as the ultimate goal of international cooperation for development. Moreover, it makes the compelling case that Global Public Investment (GPI) is the way forward for providing global public goods and, therefore, to contribute to a fairer distribution of wealth. The Future of Aid goes beyond an abstract universalism and a dyadic notion of responsibility. A mitigated universalism underpins its narrative, combining two principles adopted by Southern countries: differentiation and mutuality. Glennie's vision stresses the idea that progressive differentiation (every state should contribute according to its capacities), is based on self-interest (the contribution will, ultimately, benefit the contributor). In a time of growing suspicion of multilateralism, Glennie's work on GPI is a most needed roadmap to tackle intractable challenges and to revive the 2030 Agenda.

    Paulo Esteves

    Director, BRICS Policy Center


    The international community, bracing with the changes in the development cooperation landscape, has been in a reflective mood in recent times. The Covid-19 pandemic has provided a compelling boost to this process of rethinking. It is now widely recognised that novel ideas and gutsy initiatives are the need of the day to evolve a more effective global arrangement of collaboration for sustainable development. At this very opportune moment, Jonathan Glennie has come forward with the ambitious proposal of transforming the traditional aid regime to "global public investment". His analytical narrative touches upon issues related to motivation and incentives as well as sourcing and governance. Discerning readers will find the book engaging and intriguing.

    Debapriya Bhattacharya

    Distinguished Fellow, Centre for Policy Dialogue, and former Bangladesh Ambassador to WTO and UN


    With passion and academic proficiency, Glennie calls to replace the "aid" paradigm of international cooperation i.e. transfers from affluent nations to underprivileged ones, with an internationalist democratic approach cemented on the belief in the capacities of peoples to collectively work on an equal footing for the common good of all: Global Public Investment.  Repairing a ship in the midst of a tempest requires not charity between those in upper and lower decks, but the full investment of everyone's actions and expertise. As the pandemic has shown, for each nation, its economic wellbeing and health of its population crucially depend on the fate of other nations. Practitioners, policy makers, academics and students of international development and global affairs will benefit enormously from this book; the world too, if politicians in power heed Glennie’s advice.  

    Juan Carlos Moreno-Brid

    Professor of Economics, UNAM, and co-founder of the World Economic Association


    I am so excited about this book! It's the first really inspired take on the changes we need to make in the aid and global development system I've seen this year. 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. We urgently need governments across the world to reinforce international obligations to advance human rights and civic freedoms, and ensure that civil society is an equal partner in the achievement of an equal and sustainable world. As this book rightly argues, rethinking aid as a global public investment is critical if we are to secure our undeniably inter-dependent future.

    Lysa John

    Secretary-General, Civicus (global alliance of civil society)


    Glennie offers a timely and critical examination of the "aid paradigm" that has governed global cooperation for most of the 20th century. This book is his manifesto for remaking foreign aid to address new political realities and development challenges. A book for aid theorists and policy practitioners alike, he offers a powerful rationale for concessional public financial transfers: international solidarity that serves all of our collective interests as co-inhabitants of planet Earth. At the same time, his idealism is tempered by a keen realism of the geopolitics of foreign aid, including the ways it must build diplomatic bridges and tear down ‘us and them’ mentalities. A book for our times that is bound to both provoke and stimulate in equal measure. 

    Nilima Gulrajani

    Senior Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

    Jonathan is a true thought-leader in global development, and his new book demonstrates exactly why. Whether you are an aid industry veteran, an entrepreneur building a social enterprise, or simply wonder how problems such as COVID-19 or climate change can be solved, this prescient book is essential reading. It represents not just a reframing and reimagining of "aid" as we know it, but a profound and urgent call to action.


    Hannah Wanjie Ryder
    CEO, Development Reimagined, Beijing