Alex Evans: The agenda setter

By Eliza Villarino 12 October 2011

Alex Evans, nonresident fellow at NYU Center on International Cooperation. Photo by: personal collection

Climate change is now a pillar of U.K. aid policy. One person who’s helped push the issue is Alex Evans, a former special adviser to ex-U.K. development chief Hilary Benn.

Today, Evans is an NYU Center on International Cooperation nonresident fellow. He also co-edits the Global Dashboard, a blog encouraging debate on international affairs and brings together leading experts in the field from the United Kingdom and beyond.

Evans is one of today’s most influential development leaders under 40 in London. He and his peers have inspired change that transcends borders.

Devex is recognizing 40 of these young London-based trailblazers in international development. They are social entrepreneurs, government leaders, development consultants, business innovators, advocates, development researchers, nonprofit executives, philanthropists and investors.

We asked Evans about his leadership and vision for development cooperation in the years to come. Here’s what he said:

How do you measure the success of a foreign affairs blog such as the Global Dashboard, which you co-edit?

David and I have always run Global Dashboard as a labour of love, so the main success metric for us is that we enjoy editing it so much. But we also take a certain quiet pride in the fact that GD has become a platform for contributors of the caliber of Andy Sumner, Richard Gowan and Claire Melamed — and of course, it’s always nice when Global Dashboard stories get picked up by the Economist or New York Times.

How would you describe your role in helping to mainstream climate change and energy programs during your tenure at DfID?

When I first arrived at DFID in 2003, a lot of the development world still saw climate as a bit fringe at best, or as an outright distraction at worst. Having been working as a climate researcher at a think tank up until then, I found that pretty surprising. A few of us in the Department were involved in pushing for climate to be brought more to the centre of DFID’s work, especially in the 2006 White Paper — Jos Wheatley, who leads DFID’s involvement in the UN climate negotiations, and David Steven, who was working as a consultant and with whom I now co-edit Global Dashboard, were especially heavily involved in that.

How do you see yourself pushing innovative solutions to global energy and climate challenges in the coming years?

I’m sure I’ll still spend a lot of time focusing on the multilateral level — though it’s a constant frustration to see how the political space for collective action at global level seems to be closing down even as the need for it increases. From February next year, though, I’ll be moving to Ethiopia (where my wife Emma will be working for DFID’s country office, while I continue to work for NYU from Addis Ababa) — so it will be great to have more of a chance to get involved in on-the-ground analysis, for instance looking at how resource scarcity affects Horn of Africa conflict and humanitarian issues.

Read more about the Devex 40 Under 40 International Development Leaders in London.

About the author

Eliza villarino 400x400
Eliza Villarino

Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.


Join the Discussion