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Last Friday I spoke at this event “What Works in Education”, a research colloquium sponsored by the World Bank, J-PAL, and USAID (which, like the World Bank, has recently released a new education strategy).
Our motto at CGD is “Independent research & practical ideas for global prosperity.” Translating ideas to action requires world-class policy research, effective outreach, and teamwork with colleagues in many global institutions, When everything goes right, my colleagues at CGD produce some real gems that command global recognition.
This just happened to CGD senior fellow David Wheeler, whose work with colleagues at the World Bank and United Nations Development Program has received the first annual prize for excellence awarded by the journal Climate Policy.
The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) recently reported that the December 2010 Food Price Index surpassed the peak reached in June 2008. A closer examination of the data, however, provides some modest hope that the worst effects of the 2007-08 price spikes can be avoided, with luck and better policies.
First, it is important to note that only two of the five components of the Food Price Index were above 2008 levels—meat (slightly above) and sugar (more than twice as high). Second, as shown in the chart below, staple grain prices, which are key to preventing hunger among the poor, are increasing sharply, while rice and, to a lesser degree, wheat remain well below their 2008 peaks. Maize is the exception, thanks in part to U.S. policies supporting corn-based ethanol that bring to mind the zombies populating popular culture—they just won’t die!
Here is what I liked about President Obama’s UN speech on development last week, what I liked less, and what to watch for next. I conclude with an epilogue on this week’s historic gathering of secretaries Clinton, Gates, and Geithner, USAID Administrator Shah, and Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Daniel Yohannes for the U.S.
Good question as the world prepares for the September summit to assess progress. But this is a slightly odd debate here at The Africa Report. The UN Millennium Promise’s Charles Abugre Akelyira seems to think the MDGs are a rejection of economic policy reform:
Tuesday, June 15 marks the last day that the board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) can object to the UNESCO-Obiang International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences, which is made possible by a $3 million grant given to UNESCO by Equatorial Guinea’s dictator of 31 years—Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. As we blogged earlier, UNESCO gets to keep half of the money as a finder’s fee for identifying the winner. If the award ceremony does go forward, Obiang plans to attend, along with UNESCO's director-general, Irina Bokova.
We at CGD warmly welcome president-elect Barack Obama's appointments of Timothy Geithner as Secretary of Treasury and Lawrence Summers to head the National Economic Council. Both are members of the CGD Board of Directors. This is no coincidence.
Senators Lugar and Bayh are again on the anticorruption warpath. Yesterday they issued a press release calling for "a Government Accounting Office (GAO) probe of the World Bank's anticorruption efforts." They want to make sure that the U.S.'s $950 million contribution to the International Development Association is not being "misspent and enriching corrupt foreign regimes." Certainly sounds reasonable, but is this really the right focus for a review of World Bank operations?
The New York Times yesterday (and Paul Krugman earlier in the week) called on rich countries to "step up to the plate" in confronting the food crisis in developing countries -- in the short run by increasing their donations of food aid. and in the medium run by getting rid of economically inefficient, inequitable, and environmentally unsound subsidies for biofuels, especially corn-based ethanol.