Global development trends and challenges: horizon 2025 revisited

Research reports and studies
October 2017
Homi Kharas and Andrew Rogerson

In July 2012, we published Horizon 2025: creative destruction in the aid industry, which analysed some of the major forces shaping change in development cooperation, as we knew it then. Five years on we look again at our 2012 scenarios. 2017 is a milesteone shrouded in great uncertainty arising from recent political developments such as Brexit and Donald Trump's presidency. This report analyses how our previous scenarios have stood the test of time, what we missed and what we have learned since.

Our starting point is the enormous change in the landscape within which development finance agencies are operating. On the one hand there are large, unexpected factors that potentially cause massive change, but whose legacy might yet prove ephemeral. These include the populist ‘roar’ and national-interest-first movement; the global agreement on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, with their attendant change from business-as-usual to a transformational agenda, albeit with less consensus on how to to achieve it; and the surge of migrants and refugees from conflict, and its lasting impact both on the content of development assistance and public support for it. On the other hand, there are trends with mostly larger impact which were already apparent and in most cases identified in our earlier work, but which have grown faster or changed direction compared to what we had anticipated. These include:

  • increasing concentration of poverty in fragile states, with a corresponding slowdown in global poverty reduction;
  • the surge of refugees from conflict, and of migrants generally, and its lasting impact on both development assistance and the public support for it;
  • the changed role of the business community from an ad hoc player;
  • the continued activity on climate change, but the arguable reduction in the use of aid; and
  • finally, China’s ‘big push’ on development, which has injected a geopolitical dimension to aid.