Logo: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

Origins, evolution and future of global development co-operation: The role of the DAC

Denis Neumann • 17 September 2021

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Since its foundation in 1961, the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) – nerve centre of the aid effort of the “rich” countries (some $160 billion in 2020) – has played a central role in the Post-War aid system. This book traces the history of the institution and reflects on its future.

How intense diplomacy by US Deputy Secretary of State Douglas Dillon in 1960 led to the creation of the OECD itself and the DAC is disclosed here for the first time. How the DAC works, how it shaped development finance by defining and measuring Official Development Assistance (ODA), and how it has pursued its founding mission to increase the volume and effectiveness of aid, are key to the story.

The end of the Cold War brought on major aid fatigue. In response, unbeknown to most, the DAC proposed human development goals that eventually became the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It also prioritised policy frontiers such as gender equality, fragile states, sustainable development and policy coherence.

More recently, the universal 2030 Sustainable  Development Goals (SDGs) have succeeded the MDGs. China has become a leading source of development finance, population in Sub-Saharan Africa is set to double to 2 billion by 2050 out of a world total of 10 billion, and “global public  bads” such as climate change and world-wide pandemics are  putting not only development but our civilisation at risk. In this environment of unprecedented challenges and contested cooperation, the DAC seeks its place in the evolving global development architecture. By better understanding its history – this book argues – it will have a better chance to succeed.

The book is edited by Gerardo Bracho, Richard Carey, William Hynes, Alexandra Trzeciak-Duval and Stephan Klingebiel. In total, the volume contains 18 chapters and features personal accounts by two former DAC Chairs of the MDG and aid effectiveness stories, as well as by a former high level UN official telling the inside story of how the Sustainable Development Goals were formulated and adopted.


Welcome & Moderation:

  • Stephan Klingebiel, Head of Research Programme „Inter- and transnational cooperation“, German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

Book Spotlights:

  • Gerardo Bracho, Mexican diplomat to the OECD (development)
  • Richard Carey, former OEC Director for Development Cooperation
  • William Hynes, Head of the New Approaches to Economic Challenges Unit, OECD
  • Alexandra Trzeciak-Duval, former Head of Policy Division (Development Cooperation Directorate) of OECD


Concluding Remarks:

  • Brian Atwood, Former Administrator of USAID and former DAC Chair, Visiting Scholar in International and Public Affairs, Brown University
  • Stephan Klingebiel



The study will be available online on 27th September 2021. You will find the link on our event page.

For more information please contact globaldev@die-gdi.de.