Center for Global Development

The Center for Global Development (CGD) is a nonprofit think tank based in Washington, D.C., and London that focuses on international development.

Center for Global Development
Formation2001; 20 years ago (2001)
TypeThink tank
Headquarters2055 L Street NW
Masood Ahmed[1]
Revenue (2016)
Expenses (2016)$13,692,105[2]

It was founded in November 2001 by former senior U.S. official Edward W. Scott, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, C. Fred Bergsten, and Nancy Birdsall. Birdsall, the former Vice President of the Inter-American Development Bank and former Director of the Policy Research Department at the World Bank, became the Center's first President. Lawrence Summers was unanimously elected in March 2014 by the CGD Board of Directors to succeed founding Board Chair Edward Scott Jr., on May 1, 2014.[3]

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".[4] In 2009,[5] Foreign Policy magazine's Think-Tank Index listed CGD as one of the top 15 overall think-tanks in the USA.[6] 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.[7] The Center considers itself to be a "think and do" tank, with an emphasis on producing research that is channeled into practical policy proposals.[8]

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.[9] Former CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet advised Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her senior advisors on debt relief and aid coordination.

CGD is also known for creating the program called advance market commitments to encourage vaccine development for specific diseases. The G7 endorsed the approach and the Gates Foundation and five countries gave $1.5 billion to create a vaccine against strains of pneumonia.[10]

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.[11]

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"[12] research initiatives include "Europe Beyond Aid",[13] Development Impact Bonds,[14] and Illicit Financial Flows.[15]

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.[16]

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 James Tayler 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.[17][18][19][20][21] However in June 2021, an Employment Appeal Tribunal led 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.[22] 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 Amanda Glassman, 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."[23] 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."[24]