Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

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The UK Foreign and Development Office and Global Public Goods

The UK is about to merge development and diplomacy in a single department: the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about that, but CGD colleagues have pointed out some opportunities as well. One area where combining the talents of DFID and Foreign Office staff could be turned into a positive sum is in the area of global public goods.

A map showing how countries around the world are handling the exam situation

Testing Times: The Exams “Debacle” in the UK and What COVID-19 Has Meant for High-stakes Exams Around the World

Thanks to COVID-19, national exams in England were replaced with a combination of school-allocated grades and a centralised algorithm leading to a set of results that were widely perceived as inequitable. What did other countries do, and was there any “good” option during this year of lengthy school closures? Using our COVID education tracker, we coded and mapped governments’ approaches to national exams in more than 100 countries where we could find reliable data.

A hedgehog (sans fox) on a white background. Photo via Adobe Stock

Expanding the Menagerie: Why the FCDO Needs To Be Both Hedgehog and Fox To Reach Its Potential

In Isaiah Berlin’s famous essay, he divided the world into hedgehogs, who have a singular vision uniting all action, and foxes, characterized by the breadth of their intellectual curiosity and locus of attention. The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office needs to be both hedgehog and fox to fulfill its promise, being able to relate all of its work to its central vision of being a force for good in the world, while retaining the fox’s ability to work on multiple problems in multiple ways.

Close up of a hand using a test tube and pipette. Photo from Adobe Stock.

This Is the Perfect Moment to Redesign UK Aid Spend on Research

A new ICAI report issued this week suggests that large parts of UK aid spending on research and development remain hampered by a design that favors British researcher interests over urgent research topics and capacity prioritized by the world’s poorest countries. The next few months are a perfect opportunity to fix that problem, because the two most problematic funds are up for renewal.

Image of Mikaela Gavas and Simon Maxwell testifying to the House of Lords

Got Brexit Done. What Now for International Development?

“Get Brexit Done” was the Conservative Party’s election-winning slogan last month. Formally, that objective has been achieved. But what does that mean for international development—for aid, humanitarian relief, trade, security, migration, climate change, and beyond? Last week we gave evidence to the House of Lords EU External Affairs Sub-Committee on development cooperation after Brexit. Below we sketch out some of our key discussion points.

Visualization breaking down where most aid goes

Focusing UK Research Aid Where It Matters

The UK’s development agency, DFID, has stated that it views research as the best way to spend aid and that it intends to place high quality research central to its aid strategy. In a new paper, we find significant problems with the way that UK aid is being used to back research: a huge ramp-up in support has largely gone to fund opaque, unfocused research in UK universities. There are better approaches.

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