24 June 2022
Build Back Better World (B3W) was announced at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in June 2021 as an infrastructure-led strategic initiative by Western powers to support the recovery and build the resilience of developing countries facing a multitude of immediate and long-term challenges. These include, in particular, the COVID-19 recovery and China’s growing economic and political influence in the developing world. This paper initially focuses on three development visions related to B3W – the US-led B3W initiative, the European Union’s Global Gateway and the UK’s restructured development policy – and assesses action and progress against promises and pledges made in June 2021. Prioritizing high-quality, sustainable human and physical infrastructure that incorporates green principles promises a viable alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for recipient nations. However, the US, EU and UK strategies all remain underdeveloped and it is unclear how they will be delivered. Policymakers should consider where the benefits of cooperating with China outweigh the risks, and where the BRI approach can complement the values-driven approach of G7 initiatives. There is potential for major powers working together to increase the benefits to recipient nations. One year on from the B3W announcement, the evidence suggests limited progress has been made in delivering on initial commitments. Donor nations still have development strategies that are unfocused, fail to maximize the potential of global partnerships and under-engage with private sector partners. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022 and the uncertain economic recovery from COVID-19 threaten to undermine progress. Changing priorities among donor nations, driven by events in Ukraine, risk a further shift in development policy towards bilateralism and fragmentation within the G7 and with recipient nations. Improving multilateral partnerships can help to mitigate these risks, either via a reformed G7 structure or via existing global institutions. G7 countries must prioritize the urgent and escalating needs of the developing economies. Stability and prosperity in developing countries does, and will continue to, impact domestic politics, health, security and economic growth within the G7. A further challenge for G7 donor nations is to establish genuine and equitable partnerships with recipient nations, with the goal of co-designing policies that both complement recipients’ existing national plans and prioritize their development goals. By focusing on the experience and knowledge of recipient countries, G7 countries can reinvigorate multilateralism. With a reduction in public funding for development likely, G7 policymakers must integrate private sector actors both at home and abroad into their strategies for international development. This can be achieved by facilitating innovative private finance initiatives, supporting higher-risk investments in developing countries and building a sustainable pipeline of investable projects.
united kingdom france japan united states of america canada us and the americas programme germany brics economies european union (eu) coronavirus response investment in africa eurozone america's international role g7 and g20 supporting a global recovery for a world in crisis uk's global role