With rigorous economic research and practical policy solutions, we focus on the issues and institutions that are critical to global development. Explore our core themes and topics to learn more about our work.
In timely and incisive analysis, our experts parse the latest development news and devise practical solutions to new and emerging challenges. Our events convene the top thinkers and doers in global development.
The humanitarian landscape is changing rapidly, with record numbers displaced worldwide over longer periods of time, fewer living in settled camps, and large funding shortfalls. As a result, business-as-usual is no longer working for refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and their host communities. Refugees and IDPs who are displaced for 5, 10, or 20 years need access to basic social services and legal work—opportunities that will enable them to not only survive, but also recover and thrive.
There is emerging agreement around the need to bridge the divide between humanitarian and development actors, and deliver sustainable solutions that are integrated with host government systems. Driven by increasing global momentum, new financing platforms and mechanisms are emerging to address some of these challenges, and there is tremendous opportunity to shape their design and structure.
What effort is CGD undertaking to address this challenge?
CGD and IRC are convening a joint study group to explore what a sound partnership framework between host governments and development and humanitarian actors might look like in protracted displacement scenarios. This effort is guided by a vision of displaced people having meaningful opportunities that promote long-term economic, social, and institutional development.
The group will focus on two sectors with significant need and tremendous scope to enable displaced populations and host communities to achieve self-reliance: education and livelihoods.
The agenda is built around the following initial set of guiding questions:
What policy considerations can help harness the resources and expertise of both the humanitarian and development communities to deliver sustainable solutions for displaced populations and their host communities?
How can actors encourage evidence-based approaches and a commitment to generating new evidence?
What incentives are needed to foster new innovations and facilitate increased private sector collaboration?
CGD study groups are consultative in nature, bringing together a small group of diverse experts to address a challenge that does not necessarily have a clear answer or solution. Members of the Forced Displacement and Development Study Group include current and former experts from donor and host governments, UN agencies, NGOs, and academia. All written products (e.g., policy brief, final report) resulting from this work stream are grounded in guidance and feedback from study group members, but do not necessarily reflect their views or endorsement.
Study Group Co-chairs
Cindy Huang, Senior Policy Fellow, Center for Global Development Nazanin Ash, Vice President, Public Policy and Advocacy, International Rescue Committee
Study Group Members
Alice P Albright, Global Partnership for Education Alex Aleinikoff, The New School and Migration Policy Institute Owen Barder, Center for Global Development Rick Barton, Princeton University Colin Bruce, World Bank Group Xavier Devictor, World Bank Group James Habyarimana, Georgetown University Nancy Lee, Center for Global Development and previously Millennium Challenge Corporation Joanna Macrae, Give Directly and Center for Global Development Amal Mudallali, Bridges International Group Garreth Spillane, Global Innovation Fund Theodore Talbot, Center for Global Development Jeremy Weinstein, Stanford University Leah Zamore, Center on International Cooperation, New York University
Study Group Staff
Madeleine Gleave, International Rescue Committee Janeen Madan, Center for Global Development Lauren Post, International Rescue Committee Cynthia Rathinasamy, Center for Global Development
As we mark World Refugee Day, it is increasingly clear that there is a desperate need to fill the gap between short-term humanitarian response and long-term development need. Jordan’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Imad Fakhoury and CGD senior policy fellow Cindy Huang join the CGD podcast to discuss an innovative solution: refugee compacts.
“Twenty percent of our population is made up of Syrian refugees,” Jordan’s Planning Minister Imad Fakhoury tells me in this edition of the CGD Podcast. His estimate is twice the official count from UN agencies, and is based on his country’s last census. “There are villages and towns in the north and the center where the number of Syrians is higher than the number of Jordanian citizens living there, so it makes it very difficult to maintain social cohesion.“
Jordan’s response has been to innovate, through piloting a more integrated approach to refugee response called a compact—an agreement between host and donor governments and humanitarian and development actors. Compacts acknowledge that traditional short-term approaches to humanitarian crises—for example, refugee camps and emergency hand-outs—are no longer appropriate when 65 million people have been forcibly displaced, and the average duration a refugee stays away from home is ten years.
As we mark World Refugee Day, it is increasingly clear that there is a desperate need to fill the gap between short-term humanitarian response and long-term development need. CGD senior policy fellow Cindy Huang, along with IRC’s Nazanin Ash, are authors of a joint report between the two organizations that looks at how compacts of the type pioneered in Jordon, and in Lebanon, can be used more widely to address this gap.
Minister Fakhoury and Cindy Huang join me for this podcast. Click below to hear some results from Jordan’s refugee compact experiment.
The location for this year's G7 Summit, in the Sicilian coastal city of Taormina, is a reminder that Italy's shores are a frontline for refugees making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean from North Africa and the Middle East. For the summit dignitaries who will attend, IRC's David Miliband has some advice on how to address the refugee crisis, which he shares in this edition of the CGD Podcast.
"They call themselves the Group of Seven leading economies—live up to it," says David Miliband, CEO and President of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), about the A-list club of rich-nations—US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan—whose leaders are about to gather to discuss, among other things, the refugee crisis.
The location for this year's G7 Summit, in the Sicilian coastal city of Taormina, is a reminder that Italy's shores are a frontline for refugees making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean from North Africa and the Middle East.
For the summit dignitaries who will attend, Miliband has some advice, which he shares in this edition of the CGD Podcast. Remember, he urges, "this refugee crisis is a trend not a blip." His suggestions echo a recent, joint CGD-IRC report, Refugee Compacts: Addressing the Crisis of Protracted Displacement. Click below to hear what Miliband wants world leaders to realize about the global refugee crisis.
"We need an economic bargain with hosting countries," Miliband tells me in the podcast, "not just a social services, short-term humanitarian bargain."
One such type of economic bargain are compacts—agreements between host countries and humanitarian and development actors. The CGD-IRC report recommends compacts as one sustainable measure to address the refugee crisis. For more on that, check out the report and infographic, and watch for a podcast on the topic coming later this summer.
How can the world find realistic, workable solutions to bridge the divide between humanitarian response and development assistance? This question was front and center at a high-level discussion, co-hosted by CGD and the International Rescue Committee (IRC), in the run up to last week’s Spring Meetings. The event marked the launch of a new CGD-IRC report, which puts forth one emerging solution to the refugee crisis—compact agreements between host governments and development and humanitarian actors. The discussion featured three global leaders on the frontline of today’s displacement challenge: Jordan’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Imad Fakhoury, World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva, and IRC President and CEO David Miliband. Here are three takeaways:
1. Finance should follow the people in need, not country classifications
In 2016, the World Bank and partners made landmark commitments to offer concessional finance to Jordan and Lebanon—ordinarily ineligible for grants and below-market rate loans—to support refugees and host communities. Reflecting on the Bank’s entrée into the refugee space, Georgieva argued why in today’s reality, concessional finance should follow people in need rather than be determined solely by country-based lending classifications. Adjusting policies vis-à-vis borrowing eligibility not only acknowledges the global public good that host countries are providing, but also represents an investment in international stability and security.
The Bank and its partners are translating this principle into practice through the Global Concessional Financing Facility. As this initiative—and other efforts—get underway, the CGD-IRC report offers 10 recommendations framed around process requirements to ensure new partnerships are grounded in best practice. These recommendations would advance progress if considered individually, but collectively incorporating them in a compact model offers the greatest potential.
2. Focus on micro and macro issues
David Miliband underscored the importance of evidence at a micro-scale about what works to improve the livelihoods of refugees and their host communities. Under the Jordan Compact, the government committed to creating 200,000 employment opportunities for Syrian refugees, in part by issuing work permits. Experience with implementing the compact points to a need to better understand the multiple barriers at the micro-level—related to security as well as access to transportation and child care, for example—which prevent Syrian refugees from accessing job opportunities.
Minister Fakhoury emphasized the importance of macro-economic issues, as well. Understanding how and where refugees fit within the country’s long-term development trajectory is key to growing the economic pie for all, he said. Such an understanding complements the micro-level issues Miliband discussed.
3. Strive for better data to drive transparency and accountability
Minister Fakhoury and Miliband also underscored the importance of transparently tracking and sharing data on financing in displacement contexts. Emphasizing that transparency should flow in both directions, Miliband called on donors to also report where and how their own money is channeled. Speaking to his experience in Jordan, Minister Fakhoury recalled that donors often make requests to local governments to share data, but details on what the many (international and local) non-governmental players fund are needed to avoid duplication and ensure coordination on the ground.
The panelists also shared other key lessons from their experiences which dovetail nicely with the CGD-IRC report. Minister Fakhoury emphasized that the nationally-led nature of the compact process was a key factor; Georgieva said a willingness to learn from previous experiences and adapt to new realities will remain critical as additional compact agreements are developed; and Miliband reflected on the refugee crisis as a fundamental problem of politics, not just policies. In conclusion, Georgieva perfectly summed up why it is so critical that the international community prioritizes bridging this divide: “If displaced populations are deprived of a means of livelihoods, it is a failure of development.”
If you haven’t already, you can watch the full recap of the event here. And stay tuned to the CGD Podcast later this week to hear more from these global leaders on addressing the humanitarian-development divide.
Of the 21 million refugees around the world today, low- and middle-income countries host more than 80 percent. The strain of refugee flows can threaten stability in these countries, with regional and global consequences. But this is an eminently manageable challenge for the international community. A new report, the culmination of a joint CGD-IRC study group on forced displacement and development, suggests compacts—agreements between host countries and humanitarian and development actors—are a uniquely well-suited approach to address the refugee crisis. Join us for a discussion on how host countries, humanitarian and development agencies, the private sector, and civil society can forge new and stronger partnerships to better meet the needs of refugees and the communities where they seek refuge.
Today, an unprecedented 65 million people—including 21 million refugees—are displaced from their homes. Still, as this report points out, the challenge is manageable—if the international community is able to get its response right. This report offers key principles for closing the humanitarian-development divide and practical guidance for designing effective compacts. We encourage policymakers and implementers alike to carefully consider these recommendations to ensure that humanitarian and development dollars have a real impact on the lives of refugees and host communities.
The global refugee crisis will undoubtedly be top of mind this week as representatives from ministries of finance and development, international finance institutions, the private sector, civil society, and academia descend on Washington, DC to discuss issues of global concern. 2016 was a year filled with commitments by the international community to more equitably share the responsibility of supporting the world’s refugees. Among the biggest game-changers of 2016 were the compact agreements in Jordan and Lebanon, which brought new financing and encouraged policy changes to improve education and livelihoods opportunities for refugees and host populations. As conflicts and crises continue to burn on, forcibly displacing more and more people worldwide, 2017 must be about turning rhetoric into action.
This week’s spring meetings of the World Bank and IMF therefore come at an opportune moment—one where key actors can reflect on progress against last year’s commitments; determine and learn from what is and isn’t working well; and put measures in place to ensure that efforts moving forward lead to a real and positive impact on the lives and livelihoods of refugees and their host communities. Our new report, Refugee Compacts: Addressing the Crisis of Protracted Displacement, the result of a study group co-chaired by CGD and the IRC, is one input towards this end.
Compacts—agreements between host countries and humanitarian and development actors—are a promising solution to the long-recognized problem of the humanitarian-development divide. The traditional approach—where humanitarian agencies respond at the onset of a crisis to meet the needs of the displaced, and development actors coordinate with governments to reduce poverty for the country’s citizens—is leaving refugees stranded between basic emergency services and long-term development programs.
Instead, compacts can bring together donors and development and humanitarian actors under host-country leadership for multiyear agreements to achieve outcomes for both refugees and host communities. Within a compact, a range of actors make mutually reinforcing commitments to resources, policy changes, and projects designed to achieve a shared vision of self-reliance.
Drawing on our own initial framework for refugee compacts, and through an in-depth review of the Jordan and Lebanon compacts and similar approaches in other contexts, our report identifies important lessons for compact development. Together, this assessment reveals three core principles and 10 recommendations that policymakers should focus on to design effective compacts in refugee-hosting contexts:
These concepts and practices are not necessarily new; in fact, many of our recommendations include well-known principles of aid effectiveness and best practices in development and humanitarian programming. However, building them in as process requirements for a compact at the start of a crisis strengthens the potential to leverage the confluence of incentives, political will, and expertise to advance joint solutions for both refugees and host populations.
The international community must continue to learn and iterate how to structure humanitarian-development collaboration in different contexts, especially through compact models. The emerging compact in Ethiopia, the possibility for new compacts in other regions and countries, and the piloting process of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework offer opportunities to build more effective responses to protracted displacement. There is also potential to underscore these principles and set global standards around effective refugee response frameworks as the preparation of a UN Global Compact on Refugees gets underway. The increasingly dire needs of refugees around the world for dignity, self-reliance, and a chance to thrive over the long term demand that we learn and act quickly.
Today’s refugee crisis poses serious challenges to the international order. Conflict and crisis have pushed some 21 million people to seek refuge outside their home countries, including 5 million who have fled Syria since the civil war began in 2011. We offer three key principles and 10 recommendations for policymakers to build effective compacts for refugee-hosting nations.