International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander has today (Wednesday 10 December) issued a stark warning that as many as 80 million more people could be forced to live in extreme poverty as a result of the global financial crisis. This figure is more than double what was previously feared.
Mr Alexander called for international action to head off a "human crisis" at the launch of the groundbreaking International Growth Centre (IGC) which will bring together a Nobel Prize winning economist with development experts from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of Oxford.
The IGC will provide practical help to the governments of developing countries to support growth and improve their ability to cope with effects of the economic downturn. The centre will also provide innovative research on growth.
Secretary of State for International Development Douglas Alexander said: 'The financial crisis has shown us that in an increasingly globalised world, seemingly distant crises can spread quickly across the globe. As governments come under growing economic pressure they will be less able to invest in infrastructure, education and health care - the services their citizens so desperately need.
'As the economic climate threatens to force people into poverty, we need even greater political leadership than we have seen in the last decade to ensure that the progress we have made is not reversed. We need a coordinated global response to this crisis to ensure that the next few years do not become the 'lost years' in the global fight against poverty.'
The IGC will be a unique resource giving developing countries a hotline to the advice of world-class experts - for example on finance, agricultural yields, the energy sector or policies for the economy as a whole.
The Executive Director of the IGC is Gobind Nankani, who has extensive experience in the global development policy community. Co-Directors are Professor Paul Collier from Oxford University and Professor Robin Burgess from the LSE, both world-leading experts in the study of development economics.
Professor Paul Collier said: 'For me the IGC is the realisation of a long held aspiration to put good quality research at the disposal of governments that face the most difficult development challenges on earth. Oxford and LSE already have a successful record of research partnership and the IGC will allow us to build on that relationship even further, not only sustaining our work but also giving us scope to scale up.'
Professor Robin Burgess said: 'The IGC will leverage frontier research into concrete policies to promote and sustain growth in the developing world. It is a radically different approach from past efforts in three significant ways. Never before have two of the leading economics departments in the UK offered the services of their best economists to bring research into policy.'
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Notes to editors
1. In response to the great depression of the 1930s, President Roosevelt turned to what he called a 'brain trust' - a group of Columbia professors who played a key role in shaping the policies of the First New Deal. DFID's intention is for the International Growth Centre to be a 'global brain trust' - making some of the world's finest economists available to the governments of developing countries, as the New Deal did for America in the 1930s.
2. The International Growth Centre will include some of the biggest names in economics around the world: from Oxford Paul Collier, from the London School of Economics Nick Stern and Tim Besley - also a member of the UK's Monetary Policy Committee. From Stanford in the US the Nobel Laureate Mike Spence, and from Harvard the former Chief Economist of the IMF, Kenneth Rogoff.
3. The IGC will:
Provide a systematic link between international research and on the ground delivery of policy and programme change around growth;
Be able to provide both whole economy analysis drilling down into specific sectors;
Provide a mixture of short and longer-term technical support.
Be free in its advice from the constraints and preoccupations around aid and loan programmes common to many international agencies;
4. The IGC has three core components: policy engagement, networking and research. LSE and Oxford University will form the Hub - taking primary responsibility for the research and policy interface. The hub will forge partnerships with a range of individuals, networks and institutions to create an International Growth Network (IGN).
5. The IGN will engage with policy makers, researchers, private sector and civil society representatives in developing countries seeking advice on growth.
6. The International growth centre will:
Provide technical support to countries to see through policy and growth changes and programmes including through long-term engagement of country teams.
Focus on translating academic research into on-the-ground policy delivery. Effective engagement with the private sector will be essential to ensuring that research leads to advice and policies that are practical and likely to be implemented successfully.
Provide independent advice and policy input. The independence of the IGC will ensure that policy advice is based on the best available evidence and up-to-date research.
7. For further information please contact Sarah Thoms, firstname.lastname@example.org, on
+44 207 023 0849.
8. Further information on all of DFID's work across the developing world can be
obtained via our website, www.dfid.gov.uk
10 December 2008