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.

 

Close-up of a person casting a vote into a ballot box

8 Principles of Direct Democracy

We propose eight principles of direct democracy that shall provide guidance on the basic premises to be considered when direct democratic decision-making institutions are constituted. While institutional setups vary immensely across countries, there may exist a number of fundamental propositions that are widely applicable; propositions that make the use of direct democracy less controversial, less risky, more cohesive, and, not least, more democratic. It is important to discuss and clarify the use of this constitutive democratic institution that receives rather little attention.

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.

Flowchart showing an overview of the policy cycle, and where ICAI fits in and can influence decisions.

Results vs. Claims: Strengthening the UK’s Aid Watchdog

ICAI has just entered its third four-year phase. ICAI is a major asset in ensuring aid is well-spent. Having reviewed ICAI’s prior work, we think ICAI could should focus more on “results claims”—that is, whether the estimates of expected benefits that underpin decision-making by Ministers are well-evidenced.

The UK Needs a New Formula for ODA-Funded Research

The UK government has recently ramped up the amount of aid that is directed towards research and development. While this can be positive in ensuring a sound research base for UK aid funds, this should not be seen as an opportunity to plug UK university funding deficits, or to "tie aid" to the UK economy.

Africa CEO Forum

UK Aid Watchdog to CDC: Time to be More Accountable, More Transparent on Development Finance

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) issued a report this week on the performance of CDC–the UK’s development finance institution–in low-income and fragile states. ICAI gives CDC an Amber/Red rating on its performance, which means “unsatisfactory achievement in most areas, with some positive elements.” In particular, the commission says that CDC has not done enough to monitor its performance. 

R&D ODA by UK, compared to other DAC donors ($ millions)

ODA for Research & Development: Too Much of a Good Thing?

If you line up all countries ranked by their ODA spending on research and development (R&D) in 2017, the UK has spent more than the next 15 combined. This has the potential to generate new technology and ideas that accelerate the increase in living standards we are witnessing across the globe. But for it to fulfil this potential, there are a series of questions that should be considered concerning its allocation.

Chinese flag

Common Values, Common Rules: How Should DAC Countries Engage with China in International Development?

A truly global international development regime should be based on shared values and common rules, while also respecting the wants and rights of recipient countries and societies. If the Development Assistance Committee (DAC)—the “traditional donors”—find common ground and build mutual trust with China, improved understanding and learning, and transparency, may follow.

Stock photo of various currencies

How Will Donors Spend $170 Billion This Year and Next?

In 2019-20, donors will commit roughly $170 billion of public funding to an alphabet soup of international aid organisations, many of which their citizens may never have heard of. Each replenishment will be considered as a separate exercise, ignoring the reality that they are competing for limited donor resources.

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