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International Initiative for Impact Evaluation - 3IEThe new International Institute of Impact Evaluation, or “3ei”, was formally launched today at the GDN 2009 Annual Conference here in Kuwait. In his remarks announcing the new venture, Executive Director Howard White said that billions of dollars each year are spent on development aid with scant evidence of what really works:

“We simply do not know what are the most effective ways to allocate development resources. This is not just an intellectual failure, it is a human tragedy.”

3ie will focus on filling this gap – by conducting synthetic reviews of existing evidence, and commissioning new research into development impacts.

3ie was born of work done by the Evaluation Gap Working Group, started by the Center for Global Development (CGD), and the Group’s report “When will we ever learn?

Lawrence MacDonald of the Center for Global Development did an interview with Howard White discussing the launch of 3ie – see Lawrence’s blog post here and the video below:

More information about 3ie is on its new web site at http://www.3ieimpact.org.

Also, there is a detailed Q&A with Howard White on the CGD web site.

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I sat in on an interesting session the morning of Feb 3rd featuring case study presentations on how three countries have performed in natural resource boom/bust situations.

* Karlygash Kuralbayeva presented lessons from Kazakhstan
* Anthony Musonda, on Zambia
* Albert Zeufack, on Cameroon

The discussant, Rick van der Ploeg, of Oxford, did a nice job summing up the lessons (and also summarized the highlights in the video below):

Kazakhstan:
the government saved 2/3 of oil revenue into its Oil Fund for future generations – seemingly prudent, but the associated boom in private sector spending, a “Richardian Curse”, undid much of the good the government did.

Zambia: an extraordinarily small share of “rents” from copper production were captured by the government; the royalty rate was only 0.6% and then increased to a still small 3.0%, showing a case of the “curse” of a government not claiming revenue for its own citizens.

Cameroon:  has suffered from a complete lack of transparency, i.e. deep corruption. Of some $20b in revenue coming in, only $8b was reported by the government. A curse of (no) transparency.

Damien King, University of the West Indies, and the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI http://www.takingresponsibility.org/) , speaks about the GDN 2009, and natural resources issues in the Caribbean.

It is good to see that the GDN Conference is getting attention beyond the conference rooms.  Here are a few articles and posts about the  event:

Anupam Khanna is a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Global Development Network, and is leading its initial efforts to address research into climate change. In this interview he shares his thoughts on GDN’s approach for research on climate change and reflections on a two-day workshop held this week on climate change.

Marios Obwona, Director of Training at the African Economic Research Consortium, Kenya, shares his reflections on the Global Development Network Conference in Kuwait, February 2009.

Vicky Alejandra Saravia Lopez speaks about her work in Bolivia, her experiences at the GDN 2009 conference, and her paper on “Is the Environmental Kuznets Curve in Latin America and the Caribbean a Fact?”

As part of the GDN 10th Annual Conference, we are ‘blipping’ some participants, especially from developing countries, asking them their perspective on the main theme of the event, the relation between natural resources and development, and how this relates to research priorities.

These are not interviews, rather short 1 to 2 minutes video clips were we try to capture some impressions from the different delegates attending the conference. See the first videos at http://gdnet.blip.tv/.

We’ll be adding some more blips as the conference unfolds.

Lyn Squire, the first President of the GDN, shares some of his thoughts on the ten-year growth of the GDN and its future opportunities. I interviewed him on February 2, 2009, on the first day of the 10th Anniversary Conference of the GDN.

Atrium in AFESD Building

Atrium in AFESD Building

The Global Development Network’s 10th Anniversary Conference kicked off today in Kuwait at the lovely facilities of our host, Arab Fund for Economic & Social Development (AFESD).

If you can’t be here, you can get some of the flavor of the event by following online.  The conference agenda and information about many of the participants is available in the conference’s social networking website.  I particularly like the map of where participants are from – truly an international event.  You can follow comments from some of the sessions via twitter.    GDN is posting photos from the event on Flickr.

If you are attending the event or want to comment from elsewhere, make sure to take your contribution with the conference tag – gdnet09.