SOAS University of London

Department of Economics


Recent Events

PPPs forever? Defining a future research

On Thursday 25th of June, the Cluster was formally launched with a workshop seeking to identify research gaps bearing on the recent revival of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) across a host of international and national organisations, including the World Bank, the OECD, the G-20, the UNECE, EIB etc. This discussion was particularly timely, one month ahead of the 3rd UN International Conference on Financing for Development to take place in Addis Ababa in July 2015. This will gather high-level political representatives and stakeholders and will result in an agreed intergovernmental outcome for financing the post-2015 development agenda. PPPs have figured prominently in the various discussions preparing for the final draft of the document to be agreed at the summit.

The workshop was a one-day event and brought together academics and advocacy organisations, with the main purpose of seeking to identify research agenda that would benefit both communities in actively contesting the PPP revival (see programme). Various advocacy organisations sent representatives, including ActionAid, the BrettonWoodsProject, Eurodad, Global Justice Now, the Jubilee Debt Campaign, the Corner House, the Corporate Europe Observatory, Re: Common and Public World. There was also trade union representation from the International Transport Workers Federation. Academics drew from a set of UK institutions including Kings College London, Public Service International Research Unit (PSIRU, University of Greenwich), University of West England, University of Middlesex, Leeds University and SOAS University of London (see list of participants). A set of questions guided the discussions, including:

  • Why the PPP revival?
  • Who is driving the PPP agenda?
  • What are the distinguishing features of the revival?
  • What are the implications of these features for delivery, access and cost of infrastructure provision through PPPs
  • What is the meaning of the PPP revival in the context of the broader spectrum of public finance opportunities

Various themes were identified during the workshop and the cluster will seek to take some of these forward through future events.

The role of FDI in Cuban infrastructure development 

On 23rd of March 2015, the cluster coordinator, Dr. Elisa Van Waeyenberge, together with another cluster member, Dr. Kate Bayliss, participated in a workshop on financing infrastructure in Cuba, hosted by the Centre de Estudios de la Economia Cubana (see programme). Elisa and Kate contributed a set of presentations organised around critical assessments of the experience with Public Private Partnerships across the world and what lessons this experience holds for the future of infrastructure financing in Cuba against the backdrop of rapid changes affecting the nature of the integration of the Cuban economy in the world economy. Participants from different ministries, including the ministry of Telecommunication, Transport and Foreign Investment, as well as representatives from the City of Havana Planning Department exchanged views with the panel members on the particular imperatives bearing on infrastructure investments in Cuba.

The report that was produced by Kate Bayliss and Elisa Van Waeyenberge in preparation of the workshop provides a comprehensive review of various issues bearing on the PPP revival we are witnessing since a few years. Please see Bayliss, K. and E. Van Waeyenberge (2015) “Funding Infrastructure: Critical Observations and Lessons for Cuba”, available at:

Upcoming Events

The private sector, infrastucture development and service provision in developing countries

The Cluster is hosting panel discussions at two upcoming conferences in September 2015.  We will host a panel at the Development Studies Annual Conference 2015 (Bath, UK) entitled “The private sector, infrastucture development and service provision in developing countries”, with contributions from three cluster members. At the Sixth Annual IIPPE Conference (Leeds, UK) we also present a panel discussion on Public Private Partnerships. The papers will be uploaded here after the Conferences.

Exploring the implications of the emergence of the New Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank for the international financial architecture

The Cluster is organising a workshop jointly with the Bretton Woods Project and Kingston University to discuss the significance of the establishment of new institutions such as the New Development Bank (NDB) and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on the nature of the international financial architecture generally and the power and influence of the Bretton Woods Institutions in particular. The workshop will take place on the 9th February 2016 from 2pm - 5pm in VG06

The purpose of the workshop is to create a forum where members of civil society organisations and the academic community can explore the implications of the current trends in the evolution of the international financial architecture and discuss opportunities for joint action.

In particular, the workshop seeks to explore:

  • The extent to which changes in the geopolitical economic environment, specifically the ‘rise of the global south’ and the establishment of new IFIs, such as the NDB and the AIIB signify a radical departure in the roles played by the World Bank and the IMF during the past 20 years;
  • The benefits and challenges posed by the evolving governance and ownership of the international financial architecture and whether it represents an opportunity for new development models to emerge and be adopted by developing countries;
  • The key changes in the way the influence and power of the Bretton Woods Institutions are exercised in terms of global leadership in key policy areas and in terms of their relative influence/strength when engaging or negotiating with individual member states for the provision of finance; and
  • Insights from the discussion to inform civil society’s advocacy strategies and explore future opportunities for cooperation between researchers and civil society.

The programme can be found here.

If you wish to attend please contact Elisa van Waeyenberge