Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity


CGD's weekly Global Prosperity Wonkcast, event videos, whiteboard talks, slides, and more.

Interview with WTO Candidate Roberto Azevedo

My guest on this week’s Wonkcast is Roberto Azevedo, the permanent representative of Brazil at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and one of nine candidates to be the next Director General (DG) of the WTO. Mr. Azevedo has spent more than 15 years involved with the WTO and tells me his deep experience qualifies him to lead it into the future.

Innovation for Food Security and Smallholder Livelihoods: The AgResults Initiative (Event Video)

The world faces a huge challenge in providing food security for all in the face of growing populations, increasing demand for resource-intensive foods, and climate change. Leaders from G8 and G20 governments are pursuing a range of policy responses and it is crucial that they recognize the key role of technological innovation to ensure crop yields keep up with demand and available food meets nutritional requirements. But new inventions will do no one any good if they simply sit on the shelf.

Protecting Forests with Global Forest Watch 2.0 -- David Wheeler and Nigel Sizer

My guests on this week’s Wonkcast are David Wheeler, senior fellow emeritus at CGD, and Nigel Sizer, director of the Global Forest Project at the World Resources Institute (WRI). They joined me after a presentation for CGD staff of Global Forest Watch 2.0, a real-time forest monitoring system that draws from David’s work on the Forest Monitoring for Action initiative (FORMA) here at CGD.

The ability to monitor the status of tropical forests worldwide could be a game-changer in efforts to slow and eventually halt forest clearing. Among the many benefits would be a reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change.

Forget Waiting: Three Foreign Aid Tasks for Three Months

President Barack Obama's re-election gives him four more years to carry out his US global development vision. Rethink director Sarah Jane Staats shares a few ideas that could help the administration get a running start on their second term.

Interview with WTO Candidate Taeho Bark

My guest Taeho Bark, the Republic of Korea’s trade minister and candidate to be the next director general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), has witnessed the power of trade transform his country into a high-income, dynamic trading entity.

Interview with WTO Candidate Alan Kyerematen

My guest on this Wonkcast is Alan Kyerematen, Ghana's Minister of Trade, Industry and President’s Special Initiatives and one of nine candidates to be the next head of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In our interview, Minister Kyerematen tells me he possesses the skills and vision needed to lead the WTO.

Getting to Normal with the Two Sudans -- Kate Almquist Knopf

Ten years after the conflict in Darfur began, Sudan and the newly-sovereign South Sudan are still experiencing terrible violence and efforts to ensure lasting peace in the region are falling short. What can the United States do differently to help foster governance that works for both countries? My guest on this week’s Wonkcast is Kate Almquist Knopf -- author of a newly-published CGD report that argues, surprisingly to me, that the United States should normalize diplomatic relations with both Sudan and South Sudan.

Development Drums Episode 36: Accountability and Openness

In this episode, Owen speaks with two guests: Rakesh Rajani, a Tanzanian civil society leader who currently leads Twaweza (meaning ‘we can make it happen’ in Swahili), and Martin Tisné, director of policy at Omidyar Network.

This is the first of three episodes of Development Drums which look at the relationship between effective and accountable states, active citizenship and development.

Interview with WTO Candidate Anabel Gonzalez

My guest Anabel Gonzalez, Costa Rica’s minister of trade and a candidate to be the next head of the World Trade Organization (WTO), is a staunch believer in two powers: that of trade to uplift nations and that of the WTO to help navigate the process.

Minister Gonzalez witnessed the power of trade in her own country, which she says transformed itself from an exporter of four or five basic commodities to an exporter of more than 4,300 products including coffee and bananas but also computer parts.

Her confidence in the value of the WTO as a rules-based trade arbiter stems from a 1997 dispute: the United States had restricted imports of Costa Rican-made underwear. Costa Rica appealed to the WTO, which ruled in Costa Rica’s favor.

Interview with WTO Candidate Mari Pangestu

The leadership selection process for the next Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is underway. As I explained in a recent Wonkcast, we at CGD are making a modest contribution by inviting each of the nine candidates to be a guest on the show. My first guest is Mari Pangestu, Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy in Indonesia, and former trade minister. In our interview, Minister Pangestu lays out her vision for the WTO and explains why she believes should be the best choice to move the organization forward. 

She begins by explaining why Indonesia is an important player in helping the WTO to promote inclusive development through trade.

The Historical Origins of Democracy and Autocracy in India and China (audio)

In his widely-acclaimed 2011 book Origins of Political Order, Fukuyama explores the divergent trajectory of political and institutional development across societies. His new CGD Working Paper "What is Governance?" presents a framework for quantifying governance across countries. As part of the Understanding India Series, Fukuyama will contrast the evolution of political institutions in India and China.

A New Leader for the WTO –Kimberly Elliott and Arvind Subramanian

Candidates to succeed Pascal Lamy as the Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) presented themselves before the general council last week. All but one of the nine candidates are from developing countries, in sharp contrast to those who led the WTO in the past, all but one of whom were from high-income countries. Is this a good sign for the WTO or not? Does this leadership succession process have implications for trade and development?

Development Impact Bonds Overview

Rita Perakis explains a new financing mechanism called Development Impact Bonds. DIBs would provide upfront funding for development programs by private investors, who would be remunerated by donors or host-country governments—and earn a return—if evidence shows that programs achieve pre-agreed outcomes.

The Biometrics Revolution -- Alan Gelb and Julia Clark

Imagine that a government employee holding an unfamiliar device and a laptop offers to scan your iris and create for you a unique identification record. Would you agree? For hundreds of millions of people in the developing world, the answer is unequivocally “yes!”

My guests on this Wonkcast are among the world’s leading experts on the burgeoning field of biometric identification and its role in development. Senior fellow Alan Gelb and policy analyst Julia Clark are the authors of a new CGD working paper, Identification for Development: The Biometrics Revolution, the first global survey of the development applications of a potentially transformative new technology. They tell me that biometric identification systems could be the next big thing in development, similar to microcredit and mobile phones in the far-reaching ability to transform poor people’s lives.

Oil-to-Cash: Fighting the Resource Curse through Cash Transfers

Todd Moss, senior fellow and vice president for programs at the Center for Global Development, demonstrates how leaders of poor countries can beat the resource curse -- the paradox that countries that strike it rich often suffer from high poverty, dismal governance, and terrible corruption. His policy option, called Oil-to-Cash, helps foster a social contract in resource-rich countries by directly distributing natural resource revenues. Under this proposal, a government would transfer some or all of the revenue from natural resource extraction to citizens in a universal, transparent, and regular payment--and, importantly, then tax part of it back.