LSE Institute of Global Policy
Piloting the Country Platform
Erik Berglof
Professor, Director, Institute of Global Affairs, London School of Economics and Political Science
R. Kyle Peters, Jr.

Coordinator of the 15th Replenishment of the African Development Fund at the African Development bank

Erik Berglof
R. Kyle Peters, Jr.
Country platforms have become the first proposal to be taken forward from the report from the G20 Eminent Persons Group on Global Financial Governance (EPG). The idea applies to the EPG’s systemic approach to coordination of the global financial system to an individual country. A full-scale implementation of country platforms would be a game changer for global development, but the proposal must not be rushed through – they must emerge from within countries. Development initiatives that are not country owned and country driven almost always fail.

What did the EPG have in mind? The key idea is a systemic approach – the system working as a system – is needed to meet the more complex and intertwined development challenges. This can only be achieved through three important changes in the way the development community operates: 1) a more coordinated and collaborative approach among development agencies, 2) crowding in the ideas and financial capacities of the private sector, and 3) placing the country (its policies, capacities, and development needs) at the center. Only the G20 has the convening power and authority to drive these changes.

Why country platforms? Platforms offer an approach that retain country leadership, enable synchronisation across ministries and agencies, encourage healthy competition among development partners and preserve the Government’s flexibility to choose specific partners for specific programs and projects. They would allow coordinated policy reforms and transparency, guaranteeing uniform access and sharing of relevant information. They need not become a “straight jacket on either the Government or development partners”.

What are the core elements of a platform? Platforms should be inclusive of the main elements of a country’s development plans. Countries should organize and convene. A multilateral could support implementation, a role calibrated to Government demand and capacity. Platform participants should prepare joint assessments, policy reform agendas and investment plans. They must operate according to five or six ‘globally agreed’ core principles with associated uniform processes that ensure a convergence to high standards, prevent a ‘race to the bottom’ form of competition, and aim at simplifying and ensuring uniformity to facilitate the involvement of multiple players. Finally, the platforms should aim towards integrated project preparation support and common templates and documentation.

A diverse classroom setting.

What is different? While there are many existing ‘country platforms’, the EPG’s concept differs in scale, scope, and involvement. Rwanda, for example, has developed a well-functioning donor coordination mechanism encompassing many of the key attributes of an effective country platform, but is primarily a donor coordination exercise. The National Reform Council in Ukraine, on the other hand, grew out of a need to coordinate across ministries and between the Presidency, the Governments and Parliament, and then became a coordinating device for donor-supported policy advice. But none have combined transparency, convergence to appropriately high standards, coordination to flexibly combine the IFIs’ contributions according to their comparative strengths, and the standardised approaches needed to achieve a major step-up in development impact and to attract private sector investment.

Platforms should be inclusiveof the main elements of a country’s development plans. Countries should organize and convene. A multilateral could support implementation, a role calibrated to Government demand and capacity.

How to start? The G20 has decided to support several pilot exercises. This is a good idea. A pilot, however, must start in a willing country and allow for a discovery process through which the Government defines their challenges are (Myanmar is different from Mexico). While we should embrace diversity, acknowledging that countries have different capacity, it is important to keep the systemic approach. At the same time, we must not overload the exercise, repeating the overbearing bureaucratic processes of Paris-Accra-Busan. New communication technologies and different context can make coordination easier and less burdensome. We would suggest three ‘principles’ for the pilot. First, borrowing from regulatory policy, we suggest in each of the pilots to employ the principle of ‘comply or explain’ – when a country deviates from a standard template, it should be forced to explain the reasons. Second, official donor support for the platform should take the issue of implementation capacity seriously. Donors, especially the MDB’s, should really commit to engaging in implementation support. Finally, ensure that the platforms include the private sector and facilitate their involvement, while recognising that some discussions are more properly held with just the official sector in the room.

Erik Berglof is the inaugural Director of the Institute of Global Affairs (IGA) and its newly launched Global Policy Lab at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He was a member of the Secretariat for the G20 Eminent Persons Group on Global Financial Governance.

He is also a member of the World Economic Forum Global Futures Council on the Financial and Monetary Systems, Non-Resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution and the Institute for New Economic Thinking in New York, Research Fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) and Senior Fellow of the European Council for Foreign Affairs (ECFR). Prior to joining the LSE, Professor Berglof was the Chief Economist and Special Adviser to the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Director of the Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics (SITE) and Professor at the Stockholm School of Economics. He was Assistant Professor at Universite Libre de Bruxelles and has held visiting positions at Harvard, Stanford and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He has also served as Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of Sweden. In 2013 he was awarded the Leontief Medal (2013), for contributions to economic reform by the Leontief Centre, St Petersburg and honoured with “Flag flown over the Capitol” at the request of Senator Mark Warner and the US Treasury, in recognition of his contributions during the financial crisis.

R. Kyle Peters, Jr. was a Member of the Secretariat, G20 Eminent Persons Group on Global Financial Governance.

Currently, he is the Coordinator of the 15th Replenishment of the African Development Fund at the African Development bank. He is also a Senior Advisor to BCG in its public sector and people and organizations practices and a senior advisor to the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD. He also served on the UN Reference Group—a sounding board of experts–formed by the UN Secretary General to guide the UNSG’s reform program.

Previously, Kyle had three decades of experience at the World Bank. In his last position as Senior Vice President, Operations, and interim Managing Director and COO, Kyle led the World Bank’s worldwide operations. In previous roles at the World Bank, he played a key role in the World Bank’s financial and operational response to the 2008 financial crisis and was actively engaged in the 2010 IBRD capital increase, as well as the early engagements on the proposed 2018 IBRD capital increase. Over the course of his career, he has accumulated more than two decades of experience on economic and development issues, with exposure to all regions, especially East Asia and Eastern Europe.

He has a BA degree from the College of William and Mary, and a Masters in economics from SUNY-Buffalo.