Ending Global Poverty: Four Women's Noble Conspiracy

ISBN : 9780198850175

Constantine Michalopoulos
272 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Apr 2020
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  • A never before told story of four female ministers joining together to fight global poverty
  • Sheds light on the challenges faced by the global community in achieving sustainable development
  • Includes personal letters from world leaders and official documents from the archives of national governments and the IMF providing insights into the workings of governments and global institutions affecting poverty worldwide

Ending poverty continues to be a major challenge for the global community. It is as relevant today as it was two decades ago, when four women rose to prominent positions as ministers in charge of international development in their governments. Ending Global Poverty: Four Women's Noble Conspiracy tells the story of Eveline Herfkens from the Netherlands, Hilde F. Johnson from Norway, Clare Short from the United Kingdom, and Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul from Germany who joined forces to challenge the establishment policies of international institutions.
Named for the Norwegian Abbey where the formalized their collaboration in 1999, the so-called Utstein Four embarked on a 'conspiracy of implementation', using foreign aid as a tool to end global poverty, rather than pursue narrow political or commercial interests. They helped achieve primary education for women, used developing countries' debt relief to lift individuals out of poverty, and put development partners in charge of setting priorities and implementing programs of assistance. Their story of female empowerment and the importance of working together is a crucial lesson, and Ending Global Poverty focuses on the implications of this for today's development practices, including the struggle to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
The Utstein Four's collaboration lasted for only about half a dozen years but their influence continues to be felt. Much has been achieved but some lessons have been forgotten and large challenges remain. Ending Global Poverty: Four Women's Nobel Conspiracy considers the lasting legacy of the Utstein group and the lessons that their experience offers to a new generation of leaders as they work to eradicate global poverty and achieve sustainable development.


1: Introduction: 'If You Want to Go Fast Go Alone; If You Want to Go Far, Go Together'
2: Aid and Development in the 1990s
3: Organizing Collaboration
4: Utstein
5: Aid Effectiveness: Multilateral
6: Aid Effectiveness: Bilateral
7: Improving the International Development Architecture
8: Poverty Has A Woman's Face
9: A Coherence Deficit
10: The Long Transition
11: The Legacy in Troubled Times
12: The Future

About the author: 

Constantine Michalopoulos has worked on and written about economic development and poverty eradication for more than half a century. In 1982-2001 he was a senior official at the World Bank where he served as Director for Economic Policy and Coordination and Senior Economic Advisor for Europe and Central Asia. Before that he was Chief Economist of the US Agency for International Development. In 1997-1999 he served as Special Advisor at the WTO. Following his retirement from the World Bank he was a development consultant to governments and international organizations such as the World Bank, the IMF, the EU Commission, and DfID. He also taught economics at several US universities, including American University and Johns Hopkins University. Most recently he was appointed Senior Policy Advisor at ELIAMEP a think tank in his native Athens. He is the author of Aid, Trade, and Development (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) amongst others.

"What a fantastic story and a fantastic book. This is the behind-the-scenes story about how four women, ministers from four different countries, teamed up, defeated the cynics and changed the politics of aid to make a real difference. Their efforts led to debt relief for poor countries, expanded education for girls, a serious shift to a poverty focus in the World Bank and the IMF and in 2000 to the Millennium Development Goals -all delivered in partnership with recipient countries. In a world too often ruled by vested interests and horrible conspiracies, its uplifting and truly inspiring to read of an open political partnership with noble aims and such positive results. One is left amazed at the boldness of these four women and seriously doubting whether four male ministers would ever have the courage and commitment to do the same." - Sir Richard Jolly, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex

"Discover how four great women improved the lives of millions around the world, how they succeeded by persistence, by winning allies in politics and international institutions and most of all: by joining their four voices to a shared mission - ending poverty. Today, on an ever hotter and crowded planet, it is more urgent than ever to eradicate poverty without eradicating our natural livelihood. There is a lot of work to be finished to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 - like empowering women, combating corruption, shifting to sustainable technology or balancing trade policies. This book gives hope in hard times. Let it inspire young people to take action!" - HorstKöhler, former President of Germany, former Managing Director of the IMF

"This incredible book will immortalize the golden age of development co-operation and provide a living memory of what it could be again, considering where we are now. There is no better way of sustaining that memory than getting an insightful account of what it was from the champions of the approach and an exemplary case of how effective partnership in development can deliver strong results and hugely reduce transactions costs of development assistance. This is a must read for all development practitioners aspiring to be effective." - Benno Ndulu, Mwalimu Nyerere Professorial Chair, University of Dar es Salaam; Chair of the Board UNU WIDER; former Governor of the Central Bank of Tanzania

"The U4's unparalleled passion for development is brilliantly captured in this compelling volume. From improvements in aid effectiveness, marshalling of support for debt relief, to emphasis on true partnership between collaborating countries, the U4 sought to move developing countries beyond aid to sustainability. This will always be remembered as their enduring legacy" - Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the Board of GAVI, former Managing Director World Bank, former Minister of Finance and of Foreign Affairs, Nigeria

"On the eve of the new Millennium the landscape of international development was radically transformed. Many were involved: The G-8, the Jubilee Movement on debt relief and the campaigns against global pandemics. In this fight four women led from the front: Clare Short, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Hilde Johnson and Eveline Herfkens. This book tells their transformational story, which is of great relevance to today's continuing challenges to end poverty on a sustainable basis." - Donald Kaberuka, Chair of the Board, Global Fund; Former Finance Minister Ruanda; Former President African Development Bank

"Michalopoulos has written a brilliant book about four heroic female politicians who changed development policy at a critical point in history. He provides an astute analysis of development cooperation from the 1990s to the present [...] Everyone worried about the state of the world should read this book and learn from it." - Bert Koenders, Special Envoy Fragility World Bank and Professor at Leiden University, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and for Development Cooperation, the Netherlands and Undersecretary General of the United Nations

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