Addressing the ‘new in the New Development Bank (NDB)’: a mission-oriented institution to finance the BRICS’ ecological transitions

The New Development Bank (NDB) has not yet received the attention it deserves in the development community. As a multilateral development bank (MDB) established by the BRICS in 2014, its mission is to provide the basis for sustainable development cooperation supporting public and private projects through loans, guarantees and equity participation (BRICS 2015a). To address the research gap on the ‘new in the NDB’, this thesis analyses how the bank can position itself as a mission oriented institution to finance just ecological transition in the BRICS countries. The argument in favour of the NDB asserts that it is a demand-driven institution aiming to finance sustainable infrastructure. However, a critical assessment of this argument is needed to shed light on the challenges facing its green finance framework and address the ‘new in the NDB’. This means articulating an analytical framework that critically assesses the NDB’s engagement with sustainability and evaluates its claims of originality to materialise alternative sustainable development strategies for the BRICS countries. To do so, this thesis starts by reviewing the literature on the mission-oriented roles of development banks in climate finance to materialise sustainable development strategies for a just transition. This is followed by an empirical analysis of the BRICS challenge to finance sustainable infrastructure via the NDB, then an qualitative case-study assessment of the bank’s projects and its engagement with the country-specific challenges for a just ecological transition. The conclusions focus on opportunities to address the ‘new in the NDB’ and consolidate it as a full member of the development community by positioning it as a mission-oriented institution to co-finance the BRICS ecological transitions.
A dissertation submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science to the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, 2022