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Principled Aid Index 2020

Working paper

Written by Nilima Gulrajani, Emily Silcock

Hero image description: Principled Aid Index

ODI's Principled Aid Index reveals bilateral donors' motives for aid-giving at a time of growing nationalism and global division, when the costs of disunity could not be higher. 

The Index examines how 29 donor countries spend their foreign aid to pursue their long-term strategic interests in a safer, stable and more prosperous world.

Our analysis makes the case for a principled approach to sit at the heart of donors' Covid-19 response and recovery.

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Three worrying trends for global development

At a time of growing nationalism and global division, principled nationalism is needed more than ever.

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This year the Index identifies a decline in donor Principled Aid scores that started before the Covid-19 pandemic. The data shows worsening scores even among donors at the top of the rankings, driven by diminished public spiritedness as aid is allocated in ways that may secure direct short-term commercial and geo-strategic benefits. In keeping with this trend, bilateral development assistance in response to the Covid-19 crisis has been primarily directed towards responding to the immediate health emergency, seeking to globally contain, treat and eliminate the virus.

Our working paper, Principled aid in divided times: harnessing values and interests in donor pandemic response, analyses the 2020 results, and applies the framework of principled nationalism to examine the quality of DAC donor responses in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

Learn more about the methods used to create the Principled Aid Index, including recent updates and details of the indicators tracked, in the accompanying technical paper.

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Explore our Principled Aid Index 2020 infographics

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Published online: 9 November 2020.

Corrected online: 1 December 2020. The source for Figure 5 in Principled aid in divided times was corrected from: ‘OxCGRT’ to ‘WHO (2020a), WHO (n.d)’.

Corrected online: 4 December 2020. The word ‘flexible’ was added to the following sentence on page 25, and the Note to Figure 5 altered accordingly: ‘Going into the coronavirus crisis, only 14 donors globally provided flexible VC funding beyond their assessed contributions, of which 13 were DAC members (Figure 5).’