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Working on what matters

Hero image description: Women in a local water committee in the town of Dhar, Madhya Pradesh, inspect their accounts. Photo: ODI

The old distinctions between ‘developing’ and ‘developed’ countries have become increasingly blurred. So a think tank focused on ‘overseas development’ might be thought to be at risk of irrelevancy.

Far from it. If anything, our work is more relevant to more people than ever before. In the face of challenges that span the entire world, ODI is fast becoming a global think tank, working on issues that matter for everyone. In an interconnected world, no country is immune from the risks that come with climate change, financial instability, conflict or crossborder crime. Many of these issues are covered in the pages that follow, as we outline our work over the past year.

In an interconnected world, no country is immune from the risks that come with climate change, financial instability, conflict or crossborder crime.

Migration, for example, affects us all. There are millions of people on the move, and they have the networks and contacts to speed them on their way in an increasingly interconnected world. As we have seen over the past year, they are not deterred by fences, high seas, the risk of detention or even death.

ODI offers understanding and guidance on why people leave their homes behind and embark on such perilous journeys. Our calm analysis and advice, based on hard evidence, provides a vital counterpoint to a great deal of media speculation, much of it based on no evidence whatsoever.

Our calm analysis and advice, based on hard evidence, provides a vital counterpoint to a great deal of media speculation, much of it based on no evidence whatsoever.

In many parts of the world, high levels of inequality mean people are being left behind by progress. Climate change, conflict and extremism recognise no borders; gender disparities act as a brake to global progress.

Yet strong national institutions, empowered populations and transformative economic growth can have positive outcomes for us all. ODI has knowledge and expertise to share on these subjects and many more. We can draw on more than five decades of research, policy advice and communication, as well as the knowledge of extraordinary colleagues – including ODI Fellows – who have an intimate understanding of how the world works.

Given the work that is needed, and our reputation, it is no surprise that we continue to grow and attract exceptional, multi-talented people. On behalf of the Board, I want to thank all ODI staff members for their impressive work over the past year.

Looking ahead, we will continue to share our experience on global challenges, from migration to disaster risk reduction, making sure that we are – as always – working on what matters.

This was also a year of loss, bringing sadness and gratitude for long and valuable service. Sue Unsworth provided knowledge and experience to our Board over many years, as well as sage and considerate counsel to ODI staff. She stoically carried serious illness before it claimed her life. The Trustees and staff mourn her passing. 2016 was also the year where Stewart Wallis stepped off the ODI Board of Trustees after 12 years of service. Stewart remains connected to us in many ways, is loved and admired in equal measure, and although we miss him, we know we will be seeing him at events and engaging with his generous enthusiasm. Thank you Stewart.

James Cameron, ODI Chair

Board members

James Cameron, Chair of ODI's Board, international lawyer and co-founder of Climate Change Capital

Ann Grant, former Vice Chairman Africa at Standard Chartered Bank

Isobel Hunter, independent human resources consultant

Richard Laing, non-executive director in commercial organisations and NGOs with a focus on developing countries

Elizabeth Ondaatje, public policy researcher, advisory board member of the Fulbright Scholars Enrichment Program

Martin Tyler, Executive Director of Finance and Resources at Refugee Council

Chris West, co-founder of Sumerian Partners and independent trustee of other foundations and NGOs

Read more about ODI's strategy and leadership.