Financing global development: The role of central banks

Financing global development: The role of central banks

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Dafe, Florence / Ulrich Volz
Briefing Paper 8/2015

Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

Dt. Ausg. u.d.T.:
Finanzierung globaler Entwicklung: Die Rolle der Zentralbanken
(Analysen und Stellungnahmen 2/2016)

The UN Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa in July 2015 will pave the way for the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda. The Briefing Paper series “Financing Global Development“ analyses key financial and non-financial means of implementation for the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and discusses building blocks of a new framework for development finance.
In many developing and emerging economies, central banks have begun over the past decade to place renewed emphasis on the promotion of economic development and structural transformation, looking beyond narrow mandates for macroeconomic stability. Developmental central bank policies have included policies directed at financial sector development, the promotion of financial inclusion and aligning the financial system with sustainable development.
This marks a shift from the orthodoxy that has dominated central banking since the 1980s and that has been promoted in developing countries by institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and multilateral development banks. The orthodox approach to central banking – according to which central banks should primarily focus on price stability – has been severely undermined by the global financial crisis. It has become clear that central banks also ought to take responsibility for safeguarding financial stability. Moreover, in the aftermath of the crisis, many central banks have adopted unconventional policies to address problems of debt, stagnation and deflation. This has opened up a new discussion on the scope of – and limits to – the mandate of central banks. In practice, many central banks in developing countries nowadays proactively seek to promote sustainable economic development. Specifically, an increasing number of central banks and financial regulators have become active in promoting financial inclusion and in greening financial systems, rendering them important – albeit in international policy discussions often underrated – actors in development financing.
Widening the mandate of central banks can help to promote sustainable economic development by improving the framework conditions for financing the post-2015 development agenda. However, a wider mandate undoubtedly complicates matters, as developmental objectives may at times conflict with stability objectives. As central bank mandates widen, it will therefore be important to reform central bank policy frameworks with a view towards addressing the risks arising from a wider central bank mandate. The reform of central bank policy frameworks may help to ensure that central banks promote economic development and stability in a balanced manner, and thus be an important building block of a new framework for development finance.

About the authors

Dafe, Florence

Social Scientist


Volz, Ulrich



Further experts

Fasold, Maximilian

Political Economy 

Hilbrich, Sören


Mchowa, Chifundo

Development Economics 

Sommer, Christoph


Walle, Yabibal

Development Economics