News Release

Brookings launches the Center for Sustainable Development

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Washington, D.C. — The Brookings Institution today announced the establishment of the Center for Sustainable Development (CSD), naming John W. McArthur its director. The new Center—to be housed within the Global Economy and Development program—will generate leading research and insights pertinent to advancing global sustainable development and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) across all countries, including within the United States and other advanced economies. The SDGs were agreed by all U.N. member states in 2015 and have proven an increasingly resonant reference point among policymakers, businesses, academics, and civil society leaders seeking economic, social, and environmental progress.

“The pandemic, the ensuing global economic downturn, the breakdowns in international cooperation, the environmental degradations, and the systemic issues of racism, exclusion and inequality all stem from the very same type of interconnected failures the SDGs aim to address,“ said John W. McArthur, a longstanding leader in global SDG policy debates, the former manager of the UN Millennium Project, and former chief executive of the Millennium Promise Alliance. “I’m proud to be part of a group of experts so strongly committed to providing solutions that are robust, sustainable, and leave no one behind.”

“The launch of this new center is a historic moment for the Global program and Brookings. At a time of massive dislocation in the global economy, the needs for improved policies to build back better have never been greater. Policymakers and all other stakeholders will have in the center thought leadership on various aspect of sustainable development,” said Brahima S. Coulibaly, Vice President and Director of the Global Economy and Development program. “We are very grateful and pleased to have John W. McArthur, as the center’s inaugural director.”

CSD will begin with a leading roster of experts committed to issues of sustainability, inclusive prosperity, and international cooperation, including Amar Bhattacharya, a global leader in sustainable infrastructure, climate and development finance, and former Director of the Group of 24 developing country Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors; Marcela Escobari, leader of the Brookings Workforce of the Future initiative and former USAID Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean; George Ingram, co-founder of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition and an active ongoing leader in efforts to modernize U.S. foreign assistance; Homi Kharas, global leader in global poverty measurement and sustainable development finance and former Executive Secretary of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda; and Tony Pipa, former U.S. special envoy to the UN for the SDGs during the UN intergovernmental negotiations and former Chief Strategy Officer at USAID.

“At Brookings, we are deeply committed to doing our part to advance the Sustainable Development Goals and related policy issues in the United States and around the world,” said Brookings President John R. Allen. “This new Center embodies a top-tier institutional commitment to the sustainable development agenda, one that will play a crucial role in diagnosing challenges and identifying opportunities for American and global leadership for sustainable development—from governments, business, philanthropies, non-profits and academia.”

CSD will undertake research and convenings to advance five interconnected and mutually reinforcing issue areas: (1) Defining the challenge: sustainable development economics and empirics; (2) Identifying mechanisms and instruments to advance SDG implementation across all countries, including within advanced economies; (3) Advancing sustainable development at local and other sub-national levels; (4) Advancing effective financing for sustainable development; and (5) Advancing U.S. official and American societal leadership for global sustainable development. Themes of networked leadership and “leave no one behind” will be core to the Center’s work.

About the Global Economy and Development Program

Founded in 2006, the Global Economy and Development program at Brookings aims to shape the policy debate on how to improve global economic cooperation and fight global poverty and sources of social stress. With a long-term vision of strong, sustainable, and balanced growth for a prosperous world, the program undertakes high-quality research, identifies target audiences and policy opportunities, and shares its findings to inform new policy solutions. To learn more visit Follow on Twitter at

About Brookings

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to conduct in-depth, nonpartisan research to improve policy and governance at local, national, and global levels.