International Development

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Countries around the world face an array of dynamic and intractable development challenges as reflected in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. CIFAR reaches out to leaders in international development, NGOs and the broader civil society to share the scholarship and insights emerging from our research programs. Working together, through sustained dialogue and interactions, our aim is to catalyze new perspectives to drive innovative and effective development interventions

Trends in International Development

One of the on-going drivers of change to development is poverty and inequality. While there has been a reduction of absolute poverty and income inequality between countries, we have recently been witnessing rising inequalities within countries and an increased concentration of poverty in fragile states. This in turn has led to significant challenges in addressing malnutrition, emerging infectious diseases, crime, and poor health in early child development to name a few.

Today, there has been a growing and concerted global effort to end poverty at all levels, within countries poor, rich and middle-income. Building on the Millennium Development Goals, the global agreement on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals has been a flagship initiative in this area and recognizes that poverty can only be effectively eliminated when tackled in combination with other strategies for building economic growth and addressing core social needs.

Poverty, along with conflicts, violence, human rights violations and natural disasters, has also been a core driver of international migration which has reached record levels in recent years. In particular, the surge in refugees and migrants from areas experiencing such adversity is raising new social, economic and environmental challenges and opportunities that will need to be addressed to ensure our economies and how people adapt and live are managed effectively.

The impact of climate change on natural systems, health, resource availability, and migration is also projected to make profound impacts on developing countries and the global community more broadly. Efforts to address climate change and mitigate these negative effects, such as through the creation of renewable energy technologies, will be critical to driving significant development progress as existing solutions will not be sufficient.

International Development at CIFAR

Research within CIFAR’s programs is focused on a number of core issues in development. With their multidisciplinary and global perspectives, our fellows are uniquely positioned to advance conversations from an evidence-based standpoint with thought leaders.

Current Knowledge Mobilization Areas

  •   How can we create new approaches to state fragility and international aid for countries caught in the ‘fragility trap’?

  •   How does early life adversity impact child and brain development in nations faced with issues such as extreme poverty, malnutrition and institutionalization?


United Nations Development Programme – Sustainable Development Goals Site

Challenges and Opportunities in the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals Abstract

Bond (2015) Tomorrow’s World: How might megatrends in development affect the future roles of UK-based INGOs? PDF

Price Waterhouse Coopers (2014) Reimagine your future: megatrends and international development Abstract

Green, D. (2015) Fit for the Future? Development trends and the role of international NGOs abstract