Overseas Development Institute

The Overseas Development Institute (frequently ODI) is an independent think tank on international development and humanitarian issues, founded in 1960. Based in London, its mission is to "work to inspire people to act on injustice and inequality." It does this through "research, convening and influencing" [1]

Overseas Development Institute
Formation1960 (61 years ago) (1960)
TypeThink Tank
Headquarters203 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NJ
  • London, United Kingdom


In 1960 ODI began in small premises in Regent's Park, central London and operated a library devoted to international development issues as well as performing consultancy work and contracts with the Department for International Development (then known as the Overseas Development Agency) of the UK government.[2] Since then it has moved several times and is as of 2019 on Blackfriars Road.[3]

Since 2004 it has had a Partnership Programme Arrangement with the UK's Department for International Development.[4] The Institute also developed a strong focus on communications and 'bridging research and policy'.[5]

In 2007 the ODI was named 'Think Tank of the Year' by Public Affairs News magazine.[6] It was named 'Think-tank to Watch' in the Prospect 'Think-tank of the Year' awards in 2005 and is considered to be in international policy circles to be one of the world's leading think tanks on development. [7] It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010, with guests including former ODI Fellow and UK Business Secretary, Vince Cable.[8][9]


As of 2014 ODI had more than 230 staff.[10] The Executive Director is Sara Pantuliano. Alex Thier was ODI Executive Director 2017 – 2019. From 2013 until 2016 it was directed by Kevin Watkins who took over from Dr Alison Evans, formerly of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at Sussex University.[11] ODI does not engage in teaching. As of 2015 ODI had the following programmes that focus on aspects of international development:[12]

  • Climate and Sustainability
  • Development and Public Finance
  • Digital Societies
  • Equity and Social Policy
  • Gender Equality and Social Inclusion
  • Global Risks and Resilience
  • Humanitarian Policy
  • Economic Development
  • Politics and Governance

Event series and publications

ODI hosts regular event series with conferences and panels discussing a wide range of development issues. Speakers include ODI staff,[13] visiting development policymakers,[14] DFID officials and other prominent figures such as Justin Yifu Lin, the former World Bank Chief Economist.[15]

ODI has published many books, papers, briefings, and two academic journals, Development Policy Review and Disasters. In November 2013 an ODI report on fossil fuel subsidies and climate was published,[16] followed up by another report about the same topic a year later,[17] which was discussed by BBC,[18] the Guardian[19] and Die Welt.[20]


ODI runs a fellowship scheme, which sends young postgraduate economists of all nationalities to work in the public sectors of developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, South Asia, South East Asia and the Pacific on two-year contracts. Since 1963 ODI has sent over 1000 postgraduate economists to work in 40 mostly low-income countries. Participants were initially known as Overseas Development Institute Nuffield Fellows (ODINs) and later titled as ODI Fellows.[21]


As a registered charity, ODI's income relies on "grants and donations from foundations, non-governmental organisations, the private sector, governments, multilateral agencies and academia".

For its £28,541,000 income (USD 42,811,000 as of January 2015) per its annual report from 2013 to 2014 ending 31 March 2014,[22] ODI provided a list of these "major donors", which include Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Oxfam, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Research Triangle Institute, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Swiss Federal Government, The Prince's Youth Business International, UN Women, UNICEF, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, US Agency for International Development, Wiley-Blackwell, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, World Bank.[23]


David Steven of Global Dashboard criticized the ODI for not making the distinction between subsidy and having a lower VAT rate on fuel comparison to other goods.[24]

See also


  1. "Organisational information – About us – Overseas Development Institute". ODI. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  2. "at 50 – About ODI – Overseas Development Institute". ODI. 9 June 2010. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  3. "Contact details and directions – About us – Overseas Development Institute". ODI. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
  4. "Partnership Program Arrangement (PPA) between UK Department for International Development (DFID) and Overseas Development Institute (ODI) 2008–2011" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 December 2011. Retrieved 23 May 2011.
  5. Maxwell, Simon, and Diane L. Stone, eds. Global knowledge networks and international development. Routledge, 2004.
  6. publicaffairsnews.com
  7. Stone, Diane. "Rapid knowledge:‘Bridging research and policy’at the Overseas Development Institute." Public Administration and Development 29, no. 4 (2009): 303–315.
  8. "at 50 – About ODI – Overseas Development Institute". ODI. 9 June 2010. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  9. "Vince Cable MP at ODI's 50th Anniversary". YouTube. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  10. "About ODI – Overseas Development Institute". ODI. n.d. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  11. "Alison Evans – Staff – About ODI – Overseas Development Institute". ODI. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  12. "Programmes – Work – Overseas Development Institute". ODI. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  13. "Governance for development in Africa: building on what works – Events – Overseas Development Institute". ODI. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  14. "After 2015: new challenges in development – learning from success – Events – Overseas Development Institute". ODI. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  15. "The role of industrial policy in development (Audio / video) – Events – Overseas Development Institute". ODI. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
  16. Shelagh Whitley November 2013 (November 2013). "Time to change the game Fossil fuel subsidies and climate" (PDF). Overseas Development Institute. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  17. Elizabeth Bast; Shakuntala Makhijani; Sam Pickard; Shelagh Whitley (November 2014). "The fossil fuel bailout: G20 subsidies for oil, gas and coal exploration" (pdf). ODI. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  18. Roger Harrabin (11 November 2014). "Fossil fuel promises are being broken, report says Roger Harrabin By". BBC. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  19. John Vidal (10 November 2014). "Rich countries subsidising oil, gas and coal companies by $88bn a year". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  20. "Studie: Staaten zahlen Milliarden zur Erkundung von Ölvorkommen". Die Welt. WeltN24 GmbH. 11 November 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  21. "ODI Fellowship Scheme". ODI. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  22. "annual report 2013-14" (PDF). Overseas Development Institute. March 2014. p. 1. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  23. "Major donors" (PDF). Overseas Development Institute. March 2014. p. 1. Retrieved 25 January 2015.
  24. "ODI calls for VAT hike on energy bills (updated: ODI fights back)". Global Dashboard. Retrieved 24 December 2013.