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Masood Ahmed is president of the Center for Global Development. He joined the Center in January 2017, capping a 35-year career driving economic development policy initiatives relating to debt, aid effectiveness, trade, and global economic prospects at major international institutions including the IMF, World Bank, and DFID.
Ahmed joined CGD from the IMF, where he served for eight years as director, Middle East and Central Asia Department, earning praise from Managing Director Christine Lagarde as a "visionary leader." In that role, he oversaw the Fund's operations in 32 countries, and managed relationships with key national and regional policy makers and stakeholders. In previous years, he also served as the IMF's director of External Relations, and deputy director of the Policy Development and Review Department.
From 2003-2006, Ahmed served as director general, Policy and International at the UK government's Department for International Development (DFID). In that role, he was responsible for advising UK ministers on development issues and overseeing the UK's relationship with international development institutions such as the World Bank.
Ahmed also worked at the World Bank from 1979-2000 in various managerial and economist positions, rising to become Vice President, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management. In that role he led the HIPC (heavily indebted poor countries) debt relief initiative, which has to-date brought relief from debt burdens to 36 of the world's poorest nations.
Born and raised in Pakistan, Ahmed moved to London in 1971 to study at the LSE where he obtained a BSc Honors as well as an MSc Econ with distinction. He is a UK national.
Ahmed is a leading expert on Middle East economics, having served on the Advisory Board of the LSE Middle East Center, as well as on the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on the Middle East and North Africa. He has also participated in CGD's Advisory Board.
He took over as CGD president from Nancy Birdsall, who served as the Center's founding president for its first 15 years from 2001 and will stay at the Center as a senior fellow.
On the day the Trump Administration proposed considerable cuts to the US international affairs budget, including US funding for the UN, CGD hosted the outgoing head of the UN’s largest agency, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark. As she prepares to step down after eight years in the post, she will leave behind a UN system facing serious questions about its future capabilities and financing. That idea, in fact, informed the title of our event Facing Future Challenges on Uncertain Ground, the video of which you can watch here.
2017 brings both new energy and new challenges for international cooperation. Major donors are questioning the value of globalism, while the UN system anticipates change under a new Secretary-General and with new heads of agencies—including the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
In the current political and economic climate, donor governments are under pressure to reduce and spend foreign aid budgets as efficiently and effectively as possible. Aid remains a critical driver of progress. Yet at the same time, aid is increasingly NOT how the world pays for development; even the annual total of around $160 billion in overseas development assistance (ODA) represents a small and declining share of all global development finance. Private investment flows and developing countries' own public resources dwarf ODA. And while organizations like the World Bank and the UN still have top billing, commitment to their core missions appears to be weakening and regional alternatives are on the rise. Given these considerations, what is the future of development finance?
Meet Masood Ahmed, CGD’s new president. On his first CGD Podcast, Ahmed shares some of the development lessons he's learned in his 35-year career and suggests ways for the development community to move forward in a new era of nationalism.
I am thrilled to start work today as part of the CGD team. I look forward to leading this remarkable institution in the years to come and to forging ever stronger partnerships with all of you—the larger community of CGD experts, alumni, board members, donors, partner institutions, and friends and well-wishers alike.
CGD and Brookings recently co-hosted Former Finance Minister of Nigeria and Distinguished Fellow Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to discuss her new book, Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines. The book is part memoir, part how-to, as she draws on her years of experience as Nigeria’s Finance Minister to describe the dangers of fighting corruption and how best to do it. I drew four main takeaways from our conversation.
This week, as world leaders meet in Washington, DC for the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, they will be discussing ways to reduce global poverty and inequality. At the Center for Global Development we're addressing the question, what are the next frontiers in global development?
Each year, as ministers gather from all corners of the world for the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings, Washington DC resounds with a cacophony of differing perspectives on future prospects, like a giant, multinational orchestra tuning up. Yet this time, in both public and private gatherings, with both developed and developing country dignitaries, as well as leading technocrats from the international financial institutions, one refrain kept recurring, defining the mood of the whole symphony. I would summarize it as 'The numbers are looking better, so why don't I feel good about them?'
What are the challenges and opportunities for growth in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan (MENAP) region? In his presentation, Jihad Azour will present the IMF’s latest economic outlook for the MENAP region. He will argue that growth has not been fast enough and has not created sufficient opportunities to address high levels of unemployment. The presentation will be followed by a panel discussion on the main impediments to growth and highlight the policy priorities to durably increase it and make it more inclusive.