Center for Global Development (CGD) was founded in November 2001 by Edward Scott Jr., C. Fred Bergsten, and Nancy Birdsall. A technology entrepreneur, philanthropist, and former senior US government official, Ed Scott provided the vision and a significant financial commitment that made the creation of the Center possible. Fred Bergsten, the director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, lent his formidable reputation in academic and policy circles and provided the fledgling Center with a roof and logistical support within the Peterson Institute for the Center’s initial months of operation. Nancy Birdsall, a former head of the World Bank research department and executive vice president of the Inter-American Development Bank, became CGD’s first president. Her intellectual leadership and rare combination of being both hard-headed and soft-hearted about development attracted a cadre of researchers and other professionals who are deeply dedicated to CGD’s mission.
CGD’s three founders perceived a growing need for independent research to generate practical, creative solutions to the challenges that global interdependence poses to the developing countries, starting with debt. Delivering on Debt Relief: From IMF Gold to a New Aid Architecture (CGD, 2004), by Birdsall and John Williamson, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute, was the Center’s first book.
CGD moved to its current location in 2014. Previously they lived on Massachusetts Avenue, Washington’s ‘think tank row’. In 2011 they established CGD Europe, based in London, to help bring CGD’s unique blend of evidence-led, practical research to policy, development, research and finance communities in Europe.
Mission and Values
The Center for Global Development works to reduce global poverty and inequality through rigorous research and active engagement with the policy community to make the world a more prosperous, just, and safe place for all.
The policies and practices of the rich and the powerful—in rich nations, as well as in the emerging powers, international institutions, and global corporations—have significant impacts on the world's poor people. They aim to improve these policies and practices through research and policy engagement to expand opportunities, reduce inequalities, and improve lives everywhere.
By pairing research with action, CGD goes beyond contributing to knowledge about development. They conceive of and encourage discussion about practical policy innovations in areas such as trade, aid, health, education, climate change, labor mobility, private investment, access to finance, and global governance to foster shared prosperity in an increasingly interdependent world.
As a nimble, independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit think tank, they leverage modest resources to combine world-class scholarly research with policy analysis and innovative outreach and communications to turn ideas into action.
CGD is fully independent. Their scholars’ policy views are grounded in rigorous, evidence-based analysis that is subject to peer review. They protect their independence by having a diverse funding base that supports their mission, and by being fully transparent about how they’re funded. In 2014 they received top marks from the first-ever international assessment of think tank financial transparency, Transparify.
The Center undertakes independent, high-quality research in economics and other disciplines. The Center's research investigates pivotal issues of development policy:
Aid Effectiveness and Innovation: Characteristics of effective development assistance, debt relief, and donor accountability practices; support to weak and fragile states; new ways for donor countries to support people's efforts to escape poverty.
Climate Change: Interactions between global warming and development; climate-related aid (e.g., adaptation assistance, technology transfers, carbon offsets); development-friendly ways to minimize greenhouse gas emissions; the impacts of climate change in developing countries.
Global Governance: The roles of multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF; ways to make them more responsive to the needs of developing countries and more effective agents for collective action to provide global public goods.
Global Health and Education: The relationships among health, education, demographic change, and development; innovative solutions for health and education financing and delivery; enhancing girls' well-being through education and other investments.
Migration: Opportunities and challenges that large-scale migration presents to global development and poverty reduction; the effects of increased mobility on sending countries' development prospects.
Private Investment and Access to Finance: Policies that affect the quantity and quality of capital flows to low-income countries; the roles of multinational firms in development; protection against adverse financial shocks; access to financial services including microfinance.
Trade: Links between trade policy and global poverty reduction; the politics and policy of food and agricultural subsidies; development-friendly pathways for bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations; preferential market access for developing countries; intellectual property rights.
They work to ensure that CGD research products and policy recommendations shape the views and actions of policymakers, advocates, and public-opinion leaders. They experiment with new, more effective ways to turn ideas into action through many channels:
Online Engagement: Their lively website, policy blogs, e-mail newsletters, and online multimedia provide just-in-time delivery of research-based policy perspectives to influential readers around the world.
Publications: Their print and online materials include books, peer-reviewed working papers, essays, briefs, congressional testimony, and single-page policy memos addressed to specific decision makers. Analytic findings and policy recommendations are presented in lengths and formats to suit diverse audiences.
Events: Their popular events feature the work of CGD experts and other influential development-policy thinkers and practitioners. Participants include current and former policymakers, diplomats, academics, analysts, advocates, and members of the media.
NGO Outreach: The Center engages actively with nongovernmental organizations and advocacy groups, including organizations with broad-based U.S. public constituencies that share their interest in better development policies and practices.
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