Oct 1, 2021

Partner Spotlight: Featuring ODI Think Change

Recognizing valuable synergies in our work with the independent, global think tank ODI, we were pleased to talk to Sierd Hadley, a Research Fellow at the ODI’s Development and Public Finance Programme. This Programme offers research and advisory work on how governing bodies can best use their scarce resources to support prosperous and fairer societies. As part of an ongoing CEF – ODI partnership, we recently also hosted Mr. Hadley and his colleagues at the online knowledge sharing session about the approaches and structures both organizations take in project and knowledge management.

ODI is considered to be one of the world's leading think tanks on development and policy with a strong focus on bridging research and policy as well as communications. What makes ODI such a success story? 

ODI recently turned 60 years old, so has built its reputation and reach over a long time. The influence of our work is built on a commitment to high quality, independent research and advice. It is also important that ODI is able to bring together expertise from different sectors and disciplines to tackle the interconnected and complex challenges associated with global development. At the same time, it is not just about ODI’s capacity to generate ideas, but also our ability to convene others and promote dialogue on important issues.

However, our longevity also reflects the organization’s ability to adapt to the changing world. The UK government has been a leading voice on international development for many decades, which has provided an important way for ODI to translate new ideas and research into impact around the world. But there are many more actors involved in international development today than there were 20 or 30 years ago and we are increasingly engaged with more global challenges such as climate change and migration, which affect advanced economies as much as developing ones. It’s something we are building on further as part of our latest strategy.

What are some of the most visible impacts of ODI’s work on international development issues?

ODI’s research, convening and advisory work covers a huge range of topics from humanitarian action to climate change. Some of the most visible impacts of our research work can be seen in the debates on expanding the use of cash transfers in emergencies; on reforms to fossil fuel subsidies; and on the way donor projects can be “doing development differently”.

However, ODI also influences policy in other ways. Since 1963, the ODI Fellowship Scheme offered governments early career economists and statisticians to support critical tasks such as budgeting or debt management. Over 50 countries have taken part and more than 1000 Fellows have been posted, including a few in the SEE region. We also have a small number of high-quality technical assistance projects working on tax policy, expenditure management and decentralization reforms, mainly in Africa.

CEF’s and ODI’s mission cross paths in many of your nine programs, perhaps most notably in the Development and Public Finance one. Where do you see our two institutions could contribute the most in the region of SEE by partnering even closer in the future?

ODI really values the partnership with CEF and there is a lot of potential to deepen our cooperation in the future. It offers an opportunity to bridge international and national debates on economic and fiscal management in some new and exciting ways. 

ODI’s research can offer a fresh perspective on what constitutes “best practice” in different countries. For example, we have particular expertise on the capabilities that support an effective finance ministry, a strong budget office or ministry finance function, and a good tax policy making process. These may be useful for CEF’s members as they try to make sense of international experiences and implement reforms.

On the other hand, I believe CEF and its partners have lessons that many other in Africa, Asia, and other regions would like to hear about.