“Our stock in trade is to bring to bear evidence on what works and what doesn’t,” says Masood Ahmed, CGD’s new president. He is paying tribute to a successful CGD tradition of nonpartisan, research-based policy innovation, as well as underlining what will continue to be our model in the future.
“The history of supporting development is a history of learning,” he tells me in his first CGD podcast. “What the World Bank, DFID, USAID, and other institutions do today is different from what they were doing 15 years ago and to my mind that is fantastic, because it shows these institutions have been learning from experience.”
We also talk about how facts and evidence sometimes seem under assault these days, as does the very idea of investing in development:
Over his 35-year, pre-CGD career in international financial institutions and development agencies, including the IMF, the World Bank, and DFID, Ahmed says the “broad shared consensus” around development has eroded, partly because “we have not made enough of an effort to convey a narrative about what it is that globalization and engagement with the rest of the world means for countries themselves [and] how we benefit from it.”
But how we communicate development progress is not the only issue. In the podcast, Ahmed also suggests that, in addition to the impact of technology and globalization, taxation and other policies of rich countries have also exacerbated inequality and a feeling of losing out—sentiments that have brought nationalism to the fore.
“We have to recognize that in advanced countries . . . many communities have felt that the pace of change has outstripped their capacity to adapt to change . . . . The measures we have taken to address the genuine concerns of these people have not been adequate.”