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CGD’s work in technology and development focuses on the macroeconomic implications of technology change as well as technological applications for specific development challenges.
Technological advances are a driving force for development. But policy choices determine who benefits. CGD focuses on three key questions around innovation, growth, and inequality: How can governments use existing technologies to deliver services more effectively to citizens? How can international institutions help create and spread new technologies to tackle shared problems like climate change and pandemics? And how can policymakers ensure advances in artificial intelligence, automation, and communications bring shared benefits and not greater global inequality?
The spread of knowledge and ideas should help close the gap between rich countries and poor. That’s why technology transfer is one of the seven components of CGD’s Commitment to Development Index (CDI).
Over 755 million adults worldwide are unable to read and write in any language. Yet the widespread introduction of information and communication technology offers new opportunities to provide standardized distance education to underserved illiterate populations in both developed and developing countries.
CGD’s Europe Beyond Aid initiative explores how the individual and collective policies affect the developing world and how they could be improved. Using the Commitment to Development Index (CDI), it combines the scores of the 21 European countries that feature in the Index and calculates a consolidated score.
Anyone doubting the speed of innovation in biometric ID should attend a conference on Identification. A major conference, Connect:ID, is taking place March 17-20 in Washington shortly after the 2014 Winter Biometrics Summit, March 3 – 6 in Miami. I recently participated in the ASPCA’s 10th Government Forum on Electronic Identity in Cambodia, as well as the 2012 Biometrics Consortium Conference in Tampa. These meetings always have a heavy commercial presence, both speakers from industry and presentations of new technology and shiny new products. They also include academics and government representatives, as clients and also as speakers, sharing experience and approaches to common identity-related issues.
Congressman Ed Royce, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, along with a bipartisan list of cosponsors, is proposing the Digital GAP Act, designed to promote Internet access in developing countries and update foreign policy toward the Internet. And on the other side of Capitol Hill, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced a bill also seeking to expand Internet access for developing country populations. That’s a worthy goal—as both bills note, over three billion people worldwide are already using the Internet and it can be a powerful force for change.
For the policymaker looking to improve services and the delivery of benefits, or for the financial institution trying to expand its customer base, the gap between technical solutions and the situation of the average technology user represents fertile ground for the many new opportunities that the digital economy provides.
Most people accept that we will only achieve sustainable energy patterns with a substantial investment in research and development, but where the research will take place and where energy will be consumed doesn’t necessarily match up. Within 25 years, non-OECD countries will account for two-thirds of global energy consumption. To that end, the climate and energy challenge is primarily about finding ways to bring clean energy to Rio and Lagos, not to San Francisco or Berlin.