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Symposium and evening event: Multilateral development banks in the 21st century

May 18, 2023

Multilateral development banks (MDBs) play a unique role among development financiers, with their convening power, cross-country knowledge and expertise, and with finance at better terms than what capital markets can offer, leveraging on their balance sheets.

Nevertheless, there is a growing belief – particularly among borrowing countries – that the World Bank and major regional MDBs are too inflexible, bureaucratic and dominated by the political interests of wealthy non-borrowing shareholder countries.

MDBs operate across multiple territories, meaning they should – in theory – be well placed to deal with global crises. Yet in practice, the mandates, operational models and instruments of MDBs are no longer fit for purpose. It is high time that these deficiencies are addressed and resolved to ensure the MDB model is capable of confronting the major challenges of this century.

Ahead of June’s Paris Finance summit, this symposium gathers researchers in academia and think tanks, representatives of government shareholders in both borrowing and non-borrowing countries, and MDB staff to present and discuss cutting-edge new research and proposals to inform the strategies, governance, operational models and instruments of MDBs.

Important information

The symposium will take place at ODI from 13.00-17.30 BST. While attendance is by invitation only, there may be space to accommodate additional guests. Please email to express your interest, stating whether you would like to attend in person or online, and we will be in touch to confirm if there is space.

The symposium will be followed by a public event at LSE’s Sheikh Zayed Theatre (New Academic Building) from 18.30-20.00 BST. Please register to attend the evening event via the LSE website here.


Start time End time Description
12:30 13:00 Light lunch for in-person participants
13:00 13:15 Introduction to the symposium
13:15 14:30 Session 1: Governance of multilateral development banks: what options for reform?
14:30 15:30 Session 2: MDBs and climate change: what changes to the mandate, operational models, and instruments?
15:30 16:00 Coffee and tea break
16:00 17:00 Session 3: How MDBs can better respond to borrowers’ needs?
17:00 17:30 Wrap-up
17:30 18:30 Transfer to LSE (for in-person attendees)
18:30 20:00 Multilateral development banks in the 21st century: what reforms for mandates, governance and financing? (LSE public event)

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