The seeds of the Global Development Network (GDN) were first sown in The World Bank. While serving as Chief Economist in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region of the World Bank, Dr. Lyn Squire observed that the region had a wealth of talented researchers, many of whom were leaving the academic field because of a paucity of financial support for their work. The first tangible product of the World Bank’s efforts to address this problem was the creation of a research institute through which researchers from the region could secure financial support and mentoring, and also connect to a community of economists and social science researchers with whom to network. The Economic Research Forum (ERF)was born in June 1993 in Cairo and now serves as GDN’s Network in the MENA region. More particularly, the World Bank recognized the need to promote more local research and to share accumulated knowledge and research findings on a global basis.
In December 1999, the World Bank organized the first Global Development Network Conference in Bonn, Germany, which brought together representatives of seven regional research networks in developing and transition countries. With the momentum generated by this meeting, it gradually became clear that GDN should move to become an independent organization. With the support and encouragement of the World Bank, GDN separated from the World Bank in March 2001, when it was incorporated under the name of the Global Development Network Inc., an autonomous not-for-profit organization under the laws of the State of Delaware, USA. Dr. Lyn Squire became the Executive Director of GDN, Inc. The new organization opened its first office in Washington, D.C. The original members/partners of this organization were the seven original regional research networks, and added later they increased to eleven. The members/partners were:
African Economic Research Consortium (AERC)
Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education Economics Institute (CERGE-EI)
East Asian Development Network (EADN)
Economic Education and Research Consortium (EERC)
Economic Research Forum (ERF)
European Development Research Netwrok (EUDN)
Latin America and the Caribbean Economic Association (LACEA)
South Asian Network of Economic Institutes (SANEI)
Oceania Development Network (ODN)
At its meeting in Cairo in January 2003, the Board of Directors of Global Development Network Inc. made the important decision that GDN should move towards becoming a public international organization in order to enhance its international profile and achieve global impact of its work. The decision to establish a public international organization required the bringing in of a number of sovereign States and international organizations as signatories to a new international agreement that would establish this international organization. This was a desirable transition for at least two reasons: first, a growing number of governments (including their aid agencies) and international organizations fully supported the work of GDN; and, second, the involvement of governments and policy-makers would only enhance the effectiveness of GDN, building useful partnerships between researchers and policy-makers.
Over the next two years, work was undertaken on the drafting and negotiation of the Agreement Establishing the Global Development Network (GDN Agreement). The GDN Agreement was signed in Dakar, Senegal on January 2005, initially by three States – Egypt, Italy and Senegal. Soon after, Colombia and Sri Lanka, also signed the GDN Agreement in Washington, D.C. India, the Host State for GDN’s new Headquarters, signed the GDN Agreement on October 28, 2005. In January 2007, Spain signed the Agreement, bringing the total number of Parties to the GDN Agreement to seven. More States are expected to accede to the Agreement. In the meantime, the GDN Agreement became effective in July 2008, with the required three ratifications, namely from India, Colombia and Sri Lanka. More recently, Spain has also deposited its ratification with the Government of India, the Depositary. In May 2008GDN also signed a Headquarters Agreement with the Government of India.
The organization and structure of GDN, as an international organization, is somewhat different from that of GDN Inc. in that it now has a two-level governance structure consisting of an Assembly of the Parties to the GDN Agreement and a Board of Directors consisting of representatives of the 11 regional research networks and other prominent socio-economic scholars and researchers from around the world.
GDN moved its offices to New Delhi in March 2005, but still retains a small office in Washington, D.C. Earlier, in September 2004, GDN, Inc. established an office in Cairo from which GDNet is managed, which operates under the umbrella of the ERF.
The founding President of the GDN was Dr. Lyn Squire, who retired in July 2007. In August 2007, he was succeeded by Dr. Gobind Nankani, who stepped down in March 2009. folowed by Dr. Gerardo della Paolera who stepped down in 2012. The current President is Professor. Pierre Jacquet who assumed office in July 2012.