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Learning While Doing: A 12-Step Program for Policy Change

2/19/08

This essay by CGD director of communications and policy Lawrence MacDonald and senior fellow and vice president for programs and operations Ruth Levine describes a variety of approaches and techniques that the Center for Global Development has used to achieve its mission: applying the results of rigorous research and policy analysis to help improve the policies and practices of the rich world towards development. It outlines an emerging 12-step program that the Center's staff has applied successfully in a variety of policy contexts, with particular attention to how the Center has tracked the impact of these initiatives. The essay concludes with suggestions for improving the field of policy advocacy impact evaluation more broadly.

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From World Bank to World Development Cooperative

10/15/07

In this CGD Essay, Birdsall and Subramianian argue that the World Bank faces twin crises of relevance and legitimacy in a rapidly changing world. The solution, they argue, is for the bank to become a more active catalyst for generating global public goods and knowledge and a more reluctant lender to governments. The World Bank should move, in effect, from being a bank to being a global development cooperative. The essay suggests specific, practical steps for such reforms.

Helping the Bottom Billion: Is There a Third Way in the Development Debate?

9/10/07

Paul Collier's new book, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It, argues that many developing countries are doing just fine and that the real development challenge is the 58 countries that are economically stagnant and caught in one or more "traps": armed conflict, natural resource dependence, poor governance, and geographic isolation. In a review of the book recently published in Foreign Affairs, CGD research fellow Michael Clemens explores whether or not Collier's proposed solutions constitute a practical middle path between William Easterly's development pessimism and Jeffrey Sach's development boosterism.

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We Fall Down and Get Up: Carol Lancaster Reports on Elections in Sierra Leone

8/27/07
Carol Lancaster

Sierra Leone, where a brutal decade-long civil war finally ended in 2002, has just held remarkably fair, peaceful and well-organized elections. CGD visiting fellow Carol Lancaster, a former deputy administrator of USAID, was there as an election observer. In a new CGD Essay, she reflects on what democracy means in a country with a mere 35 percent literacy rate, a 70 percent unemployment rate, and life expectancy of only 40 years. She writes that progress will depend upon the new government's ability to tackle corruption, rebuild infrastructure and encourage investment. It will also require the emergence of a domestic constituency with the knowledge, power and commitment to hold new leaders accountable.

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The U.S. Response to Precarious States: Tentative Progress and Remaining Obstacles to Coherence

7/20/07

The Bush administration has declared that fragile states are a threat to international security and an obstacle to global development. But Washington is struggling with how to respond to this challenge effectively. In this new CGD Essay, research fellow Stewart Patrick suggests ways that the U.S. can improve its performance in conflict prevention, crisis response, and post-conflict state-building. Among the recommendations: establish criteria for determining when and where to engage and improve civil-military planning and coordination.

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The Chinese Aid System

6/27/07
Carol Lancaster

Chinese foreign aid is rising fast and Western aid agencies are concerned: will Chinese aid undermine efforts to promote reform in Africa and elsewhere? Will Chinese loans burden poor countries with fresh debt? In this new essay, CGD visiting fellow Carol Lancaster provides a concise and accessible overview of what is known--and not known--about the Chinese aid system. She advises aid agencies in Europe, North America and Japan to increase communication and to seek opportunities for collaboration with Beijing.

The World Bank: Toward a Global Club

5/22/07

In this Essay, CGD president Nancy Birdsall describes the World Bank as a global club with a structure close to that of a credit union in which the members are nations. Its mission, as originally conceived–-to promote broadly shared and sustainable global prosperity--serves the common interests of all its country members. In light of this idea of the Bank as a global credit club, Birdsall addresses the issues that arise with respect to its current governance structure and how these issues affect the Bank's legitimacy, effectiveness and relevance in the global system.

Liberia's External Debt: Moving Towards Comprehensive Debt Relief

4/16/07

In this essay, CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet describes Liberia's debt situation and the key issues in moving forward on debt relief with the IMF, World Bank, African Development Bank and bilateral creditors. He explains why it is important for Liberia's recovery that the international community act quickly and outlines the key steps necessary for Liberia to achieve a debt deal before the end of 2007.

Billions for War, Pennies for the Poor: Moving the President's FY2008 Budget from Hard Power to Smart Power

3/16/07
Samuel Bazzi , Sheila Herrling and Stewart Patrick

President Bush's FY2008 budget request provides a first glimpse into how the administration's new foreign assistance framework and transformational diplomacy agenda translate into who gets how much for what. In this CGD essay, authors Samuel Bazzi, Sheila Herrling and Stewart Patrick, show that the U.S. continues to devote a tiny fraction of national wealth to alleviate poverty and promote growth in the developing world. They recommend reform of U.S. development assistance include: a comprehensive national strategy for global development; a hard look at the top recipients; impact evaluation; a cabinet-level development agency; and rewriting the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Learn more

USAID's Track Record in Family Planning

1/2/07

The US Agency for International Development (USAID)--the largest bilateral donor to family planning programs in developing countries--has played a dominant role among donors as a source of money, information and ideas about family planning. In this Essay, CGD director of programs and senior fellow Ruth Levine assesses USAID's many accomplishments, as well as the political debates that have diminished the Agency's efforts to improve family planning.

U.S. Foreign Aid Reform: Will It Fix What Is Broken?

9/29/06

In U.S. Foreign Aid Reform: Will It Fix What Is Broken? CGD research fellow Stewart Patrick says the U.S. foreign aid regime is broken, and it is not clear that the Bush administration's reform plan will fix it. Patrick proposes a total overhaul of the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act and the creation of an independent, cabinet-level department for international development.Learn more

Building and Running an Effective Policy Index: Lessons from the Commitment to Development Index

3/13/06

The Commitment to Development Index (CDI), which ranks 21 countries across six policy areas, is widely seen as the most comprehensive and substantive measure of rich country policies towards development. In response to requests from other would-be index builders, CDI architect David Roodman describes the work of the interdisciplinary team that builds and runs the Index. Among the lessons: to work well, policy indexes must combine humility with a clear sense of purpose.

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Reforming U.S. Development Policy

1/12/06

As the Bush Administration prepares to announce the reorganization of U.S. foreign assistance, Nancy Birdsall, Stewart Patrick and Milan Vaishnav argue in a new essay that making a dent in global poverty will require that the U.S. address four flaws: low volume and poor quality of aid; incoherence in non-aid development policies; lack of a strategy for weak and failing states; and a penchant for unilateral over multilateral action. Related event: Transformational Diplomacy, a talk by Steve Krasner, Director of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff.

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