Colin I. Bradford

Nonresident Senior Fellow – Global Economy and Development

Dr. Colin Bradford is a Nonresident Senior Fellow of the Global Economy and Development Program at Brookings. He is a specialist on global governance and the G20, and a leading catalyst for bringing experts into consultations with officials from host governments for the London, Toronto, Seoul, Cannes, Los Cabos, St. Petersburg, and Brisbane G20 Summits. He has edited Global Leadership in Transition (2010) and Global Governance Reform (2007), and contributed to The G20 Summit at Five (2014), Brookings Press books. As a government official, he was a leader in the bringing about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In 2004, Colin Bradford was the first person to push for transforming the G8 to G20 at leaders level and became a leading convener of meetings of influential professionals to work for international institutional reforms to bring the emerging market economies more fully into the global system. As a CIGI and Brookings senior fellow, he helped create the think tank engagement track now known as the Think20 (T20) for G20 Summits. He helped host governments organize G20 summits in the U.K., Canada, Korea, France, Mexico, Australia, China, Germany, and Argentina from 2009 through 2018. In 2016, Bradford worked with China to highlight the importance of the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the China G20 Summit. During the China G20 year, he wrote a book on Global Leadership for Achieving Systemic Sustainability published subsequently by the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS) which dealt with blending binaries and finding complementarities between eastern and western cultures.

As a co-chair of VISION20 (V20) since 2016, Bradford has convened annual events with Brookings to encourage longer-term strategic thinking for the future. In 2018, he was a member of the T20 Advisory Board for the Argentine G20 Summit. He has also participated in all three Global Solutions Summits (GSS) in Berlin since 2017 and has been named as a GSS Global Fellow for the next three years.

Bradford was a political appointee in the Carter and Clinton administrations for six years and served on the staff of the United States Senate for four years.

As a development economist, Bradford was a leading voice in pushing for integration of social impacts into economic policy in the early 1990s, when he brought together the OECD, the Inter-American Development Bank and the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America in several conferences and books forging new paths forward. While he was representing the U.S. in development cooperation coordination, he was a pivotal figure in developing the first set of global goals at the OECD DAC in 1995. In the early 2000s, as a consultant at the World Bank, he forced the transition from divergent approaches to a single set of goals, targets and indicators for 2015, now known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Bradford taught international and development economics at Yale University for ten years, at American University for six years and as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

  • Areas of Expertise

    • Developing countries
    • Globalization
    • Global poverty/foreign assistance
    • International economics
    • International organizations
    • Latin America
    • Trade
  • Current Positions

    • Co-Chair, Vision20
    • Global Fellow, Berlin Global Solutions Summits
  • Past Positions

    • Research Professor of Economics and International Relations at American University
    • Chief Economist, United States Agency for International Development
    • Head of Research of the Development Centre of the OECD
    • Senior Staff of the Strategic Planning Unit of the World Bank
    • Associate Professor in the Practice of International Economics and Management at the School of Organization and Management at Yale University.
  • Education

    • Ph.D., Columbia University, 1970
    • B.A. Yale University, 1961
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