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President Obama’s inaugural address rehabilitated the words “climate change” from their election period exile. He won praise from around the world for devoting over a minute of his twenty-minute speech to climate change.
The audience in New Delhi, India clung to their seats well past the scheduled end of the program at the recent launch of CGD’s Understanding India Initiative. India’s minister for rural development (and former minister for the environment) Jairam Ramesh, presided over the event, which was organized and hosted by Pratap Mehta (president of the Center for Policy Research and non-resident CGD fellow CGD). Among participants was Nandan Nilekani, head of the Unique Identification Authority of India (who we look forward to welcoming to Washington when he delivers the 2013 Sabot Lecture); prominent academics, and the India-based representatives of foreign development assistance institutions.
In the last of a series of three blog posts looking at the implications of complexity theory for development, Owen Barder and Ben Ramalingam look at the implications of complexity for the trend towards results-based management in development cooperation. They argue that is a common mistake to see a contradiction between recognising complexity and focusing on results: on the contrary, complexity provides a powerful reason for pursuing the results agenda, but it has to be done in ways which reflect the context. In the 2012 Kapuscinski lecture Owen argued that economic and political systems can best be thought of as complex adaptive systems, and that development should be understood as an emergent property of those systems. As explained in detail in Ben’s forthcoming book, these interactive systems are made up of adaptive actors, whose actions are a self-organised search for fitness on a shifting landscape. Systems like this undergo change in dynamic, non-linear ways; characterised by explosive surprises and tipping points as well as periods of relative stability. If development arises from the interactions of a dynamic and unpredictable system, you might draw the conclusion that it makes no sense to try to assess or measure the results of particular development interventions. That would be the wrong conclusion to reach. While the complexity of development implies a different way of thinking about evaluation, accountability and results, it also means that the ‘results agenda’ is more important than ever.
Last week our CGD and Peterson Institute colleague Arvind Subramanian called on the IMF to speak truth to power, in an elegant cri de coeur in the Financial Times. The IMF, he notes: “has not provided independent intellectual leadership, most evidently on the eurozone crisis. And it is unprepared to provide stability for the next big global crisis.”
One of the pressing questions for Jim Kim in the years ahead as the World Bank’s new president is what to do as many countries graduate out of IDA, the bank’s fund for grants and concessional loans to the poorest countries. To generate ideas and possible directions for IDA’s business model, CGD has convened a Future of IDA Working Group. The group’s final report with recommendations is due out in early summer, in time for ample discussion prior to the IDA 16 Mid-Term Review this fall.
The next World Bank president will need the legitimacy and wide support that only an open and merit-based selection process can ensure. This is now commonly agreed. The best way to ensure legitimacy is to have more than one serious candidate. The Obama administration is sure to nominate a strong candidate. Obama cannot be seen to be relinquishing the right of the United States to name an American, especially in this election year. But the U.S. has signaled its willingness to participate in an open and competitive and process. And the Bank’s board has called for nominations from all member states, which the board says it will then narrow to a short list of three.
News that Fred Bergsten, founding director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, will step down at the end 2012, after 30 years of service, will unleash many accolades related to his accomplishments in creating what is widely regarded as the leading think tank in the field of international economics.
Libya’s oil puts at risk its hopes of becoming a democracy. If easy oil money is captured by a few people, and they then control politics, Libya will end up looking more like Angola and less like Norway.