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European Commission - Press release

Commission joins up with top academics in fight against poverty

Brussels, 15 February 2012 - Today, the European Commission's new Scientific Advisory Board for EU development policy was launched in Brussels. The Board will provide cutting edge research and share the ideas of some of the most eminent experts in the sector. It is made up of eight international academics with expertise in development issues and will meet a couple of times a year to discuss key topics of development policy.

European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, commented: "I want to ensure that EU development policies are based on the best scientific evidence available to achieve the best possible results of our aid. That is why I took the initiative to establish a Scientific Advisory Board on EU Development Policy which brings together some of the best brains in the field. The Board will help us to link research and concrete policy formulation and implementation in a much more effective way. I want to thank the members of the Board for their time and voluntary contribution to this ambitious project."

Objectives of the Scientific Board

After the publication of "an Agenda for Change", the Scientific Board is another step to further modernise EU development policy. Top scientists, under the leadership of Commissioner Piebalgs, will provide advice on a broad range of issues, but will particularly focus on the priorities indicated in the Agenda for Change, namely:

  • how to achieve the goal of providing sustainable energy for all by 2030 by ensuring universal access to modern energy services for the poor.

  • how to improve food security in the world and increase and sustain agricultural production for countries in the Horn of Africa and in the Sahel which are facing huge hunger problems. Improved resilience to the external shocks of these vulnerable regions will also be addressed.

This inaugural meeting took place against the backdrop of recent Commission proposals to increase the impact of EU development policy. The Board's eight members (see names below) will be complemented by visiting academics with expertise in specific sectors when the topics of discussion require it.

Current list of Board members:

François Bourguignon (Paris School of Economics, France)

Ha-Joon Chang (University of Cambridge, Faculty of Economics, United Kingdom)

Paul Collier (Centre for the Study of African Economies, Oxford University, United Kingdom)

Simon Maxwell (Overseas Development Institute, United Kingdom)

Dirk Messner (German Development Institute, Germany)

Elizabeth Sidiropoulos (South African Institute of International Affairs, South Africa)

Jonathan White (German Marshall Fund, USA)

Lennart Wohlgemuth (Gothenburg University, Center for African Studies, Sweden)

For more details, see the Annex.

For more information

Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG:

Website of the European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs:

IP/11/1184 - EU development policy: Commission to increase aid impact, concentrating on fewer sectors, focusing on countries most in need

MEMO/11/696 - Background information on Communications "Agenda for Change" in EU development policy and EU budget support

IP/12/104 - Energy tops the Development agenda: Commissioner Piebalgs to attend the European launch of the UN's Year of Sustainable Energy for All


Lennart Wohlgemuth is Guest professor at the Center for African Studies, Gothernburg University in African Studies. He was previously the Director of the Nordic Africa Institute and Assistant Director General at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

Jonathan White joined the German Marshall Fund Economic Policy Program in 2006 and developed and launched the organization’s Aid Effectiveness Project. Prior to joining GMF, he advised governments and formulated economic, business climate and industry-specific assessments that helped guide policy. His research has been presented at the World Trade Organization, the OECD, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Elizabeth Sidiropoulos has a M.A. in International Relations from the University of the Witwatersrand. Prior to joining the South African Institute of international Affairs (SAIIA) as National Director in 2005, her previous experience was as Research Director at the South African Institute of Race Relations and editor of the South Africa Survey. She was briefly the editor-in-chief of the South African Journal of International Affairs and the South African Yearbook of International Affairs.

Ha-Joon Chang, born in Seoul, Korea, earned his M.Phil. and Ph.D. from the Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge and has taught at the Faculty of Economics since 1990. He has also worked as a consultant for numerous international organisations, including various UN agencies (UNDESA, UNCTAD, WIDER, UNDP, UNIDO, UNRISD, INTECH, FAO, ECLAC, and ILO), the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank. He has also worked as a consultant for the governments of Canada, Japan, South Africa, the UK, and Venezuela on development policies. His most recent books include Kicking Away the Ladder – Development Strategy in Historical Perspective, Globalization, Economic Development and The Role of the State, and Reclaiming Development – An Alternative Economic Policy Manual.

Dirk Messner has been director of the German Development Institute/Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) since 2003, and from 2004 he has been a member (Vice Chair since 2009) of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (Wissenschaftlicher Beirat globale Umweltveränderungen WBGU) to the German Federal Government. In 2006 he was appointed professor for Political Science at the University of Duisburg-Essen. His publications include Global trends 2007: vulnerability and security in the 21st century, and Climate Change as a security risk.

François Bourguignon is the former Chief Economist (2003-2007) of the World Bank. He is the Director of the Paris School of Economics. Francois Bourguignon, a global authority on the economics of growth and development, played a vital role in placing economic growth and its relationship with inequality and income distribution and poverty at the center of the World Bank’s agenda. His publications include The Impact of Economic Policies on Poverty and Income Distribution: Evaluation Techniques and Tools (edited with Luiz Pereira da Silva), and Trajectoires et enjeux de l'économie mondiale (edited with François Boutin-Dufresne).

Paul Collier is the author of The Bottom Billion, which in 2008 won the Lionel Gelber, Arthur Ross and Corine prizes and in May 2009 was the joint winner of the Estoril Global Issues Distinguished Book prize. His latest book is The Plundered Planet: Why We Must and How We Can Manage The World’s Natural Resources to Ensure Global Prosperity. He is currently Advisor to the Strategy and Policy Department of the IMF, advisor to the Africa Region of the World Bank; and has advised the British Government on its recent White Paper on economic development policy.

Simon Maxwell was Director of the Overseas Development Institute from 1997-2009. He is an economist who began his career working overseas, first in Kenya and India for the UN Development Program, and then in Bolivia for the UK Overseas Development Administration. Before joining ODI, he spent 16 years at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, latterly as Programme Manager for Poverty, Food Security and the Environment. He has written extensively on poverty, food security, agricultural development and aid, and his current research interests also include development policy, linking relief and development, global governance and bridging research and policy. He is a forum fellow of the World Economic Forum.

Contacts :

Catherine Ray (+32 2 296 99 21)

Wojtek Talko (+32 2 297 85 51)

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