Research network at the Global Development Institute investigates the resurgence of national planning for development

17 April 2018

In the last 10 years, the number of countries with a national development plan has almost doubled. In 2006, about 60 countries had a national development plan. By 2016, the number of plans grew to 116 and now includes some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

Dr Admos Chimhowu from the Global Development Institute is leading a strategic research network which is examining more than 120 new national development plans and analysing how the plans will help governments achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals agreed in September 2015.

The new national planning strategic network is a multi-disciplinary network of scholars, practitioners and policy-makers analysing the re-emergence of national development planning in the Global South, specifically focussing on understanding how nine developing country governments (Bangladesh, Benin, Ghana, Togo, Tunisia, Peru, Uganda, Zimbabwe) are attempting to promote national development objectives whilst remaining embedded in a globalising economy where shocks and risks, as well as opportunities and innovations, reverberate quickly around the world.

This research network brings together experienced academics with backgrounds in planning, geography, finance, management and development economics together with leading practitioners in the field of international development. Many alumni from The University of Manchester are involved in the project – Dr Chimhowu is a former PhD, as is Professor Lauchlan Munro, Peter Quartey, Leonith Hinojosa-Valencia, Sam Munzele Maimbo and Fortunate Machingura – all partners in the network.

“We talk specifically about the new national development plans because they are different from old ‘Soviet style’ plans,” said Dr Chimhowu.  “We have a globalised world where the flow of commodities is much faster because of the availability of technology that allows us to do that. The new type of plan is something that recognises that countries cannot barricade themselves in and plan everything but must interface with the forces of globalisation and learn ways of managing this.”

The network presented initial findings to the World Bank and the International Studies Association Annual Conference in San Francisco. Emerging findings are that plans are varied in ambition and origin, typically cover five years, and that governments are re-establishing national planning agencies to deliver the plans. The network also found that while many countries demonstrate an ability to better analyse, plan and monitor future activity, the least convincing area is how the plans will be financed.

The network is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council’s Global Challenges Research Fund.  To find out more about new national plans visit the project website.

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