'An idea whose time has come' is a well-worn phrase but very apt in reference to the Global Development Network (GDN). The GDN seeks to build the capacity in developing countries to undertake socio-economic research that informs and influences policy. The idea has found wide appeal in both the research community in the developing world and in the member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The foundation has been laid for a truly powerful and vibrant interaction between the resources of the rich and the ideas of the poor.
Characterizing an evolving global institution is not easy. However, three features stand out. First, the GDN has a history. It builds on a decade-long effort to establish regional research networks, such as the African Economic Research Consortium and the Economic Research Forum for the Arab Countries, Iran and Turkey, throughout the developing world. Second, it serves its constituents. The activities to be supported by the GDN and its governance structure are being determined via an open, worldwide debate. And third, the GDN is part of the electronic age. Surveys have revealed that research and policy institutes throughout the developing world are linked to the Internet and are regular users of e-mail. The GDN is therefore implementing many of its activities, including the discussion of governance, through electronic communication.
This volume focuses on one important aspect of the GDN's mission-to find ways to ensure that high-quality research moves out of the lecture hall and into the corridors of power. It draws on some of the papers presented at the launch of the GDN in Bonn in December 1999. The title of that conference-'Bridging Knowledge and Policy'-captures well the content of this volume.
The second annual conference, to be held in Tokyo in December 2000, will focus on another aspect of the GDN's mandate-its multidisciplinary approach to development-and is titled 'Beyond Economics'.
Global Development Network Secretariat
23 June 2000