The world has signed up to a set of development goals for 2030. Reaching these objectives will require a commitment to smart policies that maximize returns on scarce resources and draw upon evidence to maximize positive impact.
In CGD’s nearly 20-year history, our work has led to a measurable impact on the actions of development policymakers—from our proposal to build a full-service development finance institution to changing the conversation on China’s development debt. Learn more about our research here.
Mission and Values
We work to reduce global poverty and improve lives through innovative economic research that drives better policy and practice by the world’s top decision makers. We strive for excellence and intellectual rigor and believe global prosperity starts with smart policy based on evidence. Our work is nonpartisan and our recommendations are not influenced by our funders. We are willing to challenge powerful institutions and the status quo for better development practices.
CGD is currently focused on the following areas critical to development progress:
Global Health Policy
Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy
Sustainable Development Finance
CGD’s Impact and Influence
Impact can take many forms—from shaping the academic consensus to turning proposals into policy. Sometimes, realizing the full potential of a good idea means letting it flower elsewhere and we take pride in our role as an incubator of initiatives—like the Energy for Growth Hub and Labor Mobility Partnerships—that first take root in CGD. CGD has helped to change global policies and practices, and has made a real difference in the lives of people in the developing world. Learn more about our impact here, and read our latest Impact Report here.
CGD was ranked the 13th most prominent think tank in the international development sphere by University of Pennsylvania's "2015 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report". In 2009,Foreign Policy Magazine's Think-Tank Index listed CGD as one of the top 15 overall think-tanks in the USA. CGD's stated mission is "to reduce global poverty and inequality by encouraging policy change in the United States and other rich countries through rigorous research and active engagement with the policy community. The Center considers itself to be a "think and do" tank, with an emphasis on producing research that is channeled into practical policy proposals.
CGD is well known for leading debt-relief programs, specifically in Nigeria and Liberia. CGD Vice President Todd Moss first proposed the Nigerian debt buy-back, which resulted in the Paris Club of rich nations forgiving 60% of $31 billion of debt. Former CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet advised Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her senior advisors on debt relief and aid coordination.
In cooperation with Foreign Policy, CGD has published the Commitment to Development Index since 2003. The annual index ranks countries based on how their foreign aid, trade, migration, investment, environment, security and technology policies encourage global development.
The Center for Global Development in Europe was established in October 2011 with the aim of engaging with and learning from policymakers, academics, and researchers in Europe, and bringing the CGD blend of evidence-led, high-quality research and engagement to European policymaking and engagement about development. "CGD in Europe" research initiatives include "Europe Beyond Aid", Development Impact Bonds, and Illicit Financial Flows.
In November 2013, CGD purchased a new headquarters that includes a 170-seat state-of-the-art conference center, a 60-seat boardroom/ideas lab, and a multimedia studio.
In 2019 a tribunal brought by former visiting fellow Maya Forstater at the Central London Employment Tribunal found in favour of CGD for not renewing her contract due to social media messages describing transgender women as men (Maya Forstater v Centre for Global Development (2019)). Employment Judge found that Forstaters 'gender critical' views were “incompatible with human dignity and fundamental rights of others” and that they did “not have the protected characteristic of philosophical belief” under the UK Equality Act 2010.
However in June 2021, An Employment Appeal Tribunal lead by Akhlaq Choudhury overturned this judgment, finding that Forstater's beliefs were covered under the protected belief characteristic within the meaning of the Equality Act. The appeal was allowed after the appeal tribunal concluded the belief that 'biological sex is real, important and immutable' met the legal test of a 'genuine and important philosophical position', and 'could not be shown to be a direct attempt to harm others.' As such these beliefs were afforded protection under the Equality Act. The original tribunal's ruling that the belief was ‘not worthy of respect in a democratic society’ was overturned. The appeal was supported by interventions by the UK's Equality and Human Rights Commission and the NGO Index on Censorship which both stated that 'gender critical' views should be considered a philosophical belief and thus protected under law.
CGD Vice President , released the following statement in reaction: “The decision is disappointing and surprising because we believe Judge Tayler got it right when he found this type of offensive speech causes harm to trans people, and therefore could not be protected under the Equality Act.” On 30 June 2021 87 staff members wrote a letter to management saying “We were disappointed to learn that the Employment Appeals Tribunal overturned its 2019 ruling … We believe the original verdict was correct when it found that this type of offensive and exclusionary language and action causes harm to trans people and therefore could not be protected under the Equality Act.”
The Center is well known for its research on aid effectiveness. CGD President Nancy Birdsall recently developed Cash on Delivery (COD) Aid, an initiative aimed to improve aid effectiveness by focusing foreign aid on outcomes, not inputs.
In 2008, CGD produced a compilation of essays edited by Nancy Birdsall called "The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President". These essays give policy recommendations to solve international problems, such as global health, foreign aid policy, migration, global warming and foreign direct investment.
CGD recently published a report on the dangers of drug resistance in “The Race against Drug Resistance: When Medicines Fail”, which the Global Health team launched on June 14, 2010.
The Center's Migration and Development Initiative aims to study the effects labor movement has not only on the receiving country, but also on the country of origin and the migrants themselves. CGD economists Michael Clemens and Lant Pritchett have repeatedly called for a development agenda that incorporates migration from low and middle-income to high-income countries, where wages for the same task can be up to ten times higher. However, they argue that the misperception that development is about places rather than people often leads policymakers as well as economists to ignore the large benefits to the migrants themselves. Rich countries' immigration policies are also a factor in the Commitment to Development Index. CGD has advocated for temporary visas for Haitians to seasonally work in US agriculture and participated in an initiative to that end. In 2016, they issued a report on how policymakers can manage migration between the United States and Mexico to the benefit of both countries.
CGD receives funding from foundations, governments, individuals, and corporations. The organization publishes information on its website for all grants and donations received that are above $100,000. CGD received the highest rating (five
stars) from Transparify for its open disclosure of funding in 2014 and 2015. In 2013, the government of Norway gave CGD $5 million to support its work on tropical forests and development. That support was cited in a New York Times article about think tank funding.
The Center considers itself a “think and do” tank, and thus has multiple initiatives to implement their policy suggestions. These, initiatives attempt to give specific policy recommendations to organizations while creating a dialogue.
In 2003, David Roodman created the Commitment to Development Index with Foreign Policy magazine and Mapping Worlds. The Commitment to Development Index (CDI) ranks and analyzes nations’ financial and political commitments to development every year. The index uses interactive graphs and analyzes how countries contribute to development in seven policy areas: aid (both quantity as a share of income and quality), trade, investment, migration, environment, security, and technology.
Other initiatives include Cash on Delivery Aid, Combating Drug Resistance, Development Impact Bonds, Europe Beyond Aid, the Latin America Initiative, Migration as a Tool for Disaster Recovery, Oil-to-Cash: Fighting the Resource Curse through Cash Transfers, Pakistan: US Development Strategy, Preemptive Contract Sanctions, Reforming Trade Preferences, Rethinking US Development Policy, The Future of the World Bank, Tropical Forests for Climate and Development, Understanding India, and Value for Money: An Agenda for Global Health Funding Agencies. From November 2007 to November 2012, CGD published Carbon Monitoring For Action (CARMA), a searchable database that estimated carbon emissions of power plants and power companies around the world.
During Secretary Hillary Clinton’s visit to CGD on January 6, 2010, she emphasized the importance of development and said it was “time to elevate development as a central pillar of our foreign policy and to rebuild USAID into the world's premier development agency”.
CGD hosts an annual lecture series called the Sabot Lecture series, in honor of the late development economist Richard "Dick" Sabot. Each year, the Sabot Lecture hosts a scholar-practitioner who has made significant contributions to international development, combining academic work with leadership in the policy community. Past Sabot speakers include Lawrence Summers, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Lord Nicholas Stern, Kemal Dervis and Kenneth Rogoff.
WASHINGTON, DC 20036-4983 | Tax-exempt since June 2002
Classification (NTEE) Human Service Organizations - Multipurpose (Human Services — Multipurpose and Other)
Nonprofit Tax Code Designation: 501(c)(3) Defined as: Organizations for any of the following purposes: religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition (as long as it doesn’t provide athletic facilities or equipment), or the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.
Donations to this organization are tax deductible.