Overseas Development Institute

The Overseas Development Institute is an independent think tank on international development and humanitarian issues, founded in 1960. Based in London, its mission is "to inspire and inform policy and practice which lead to the reduction of poverty, the alleviation of suffering and the achievement of sustainable livelihoods in developing countries." It does this by "locking together high-quality applied research, practical policy advice, and policy-focused dissemination and debate."


In 1960 ODI began in small premises in Regent's Park, central London and operated a library devoted to international development issues as well as performing consultancy work and contracts with the Department for International Development of the UK government. Since then it has moved several times and is as of 2019 on Blackfriars Road.
Since 2004 it has had a Partnership Programme Arrangement with the UK's Department for International Development. The Institute also developed a strong focus on communications and 'bridging research and policy'.
In 2007 the ODI was named 'Think Tank of the Year' by Public Affairs News magazine. It was named 'Think-tank to Watch' in the Prospect 'Think-tank of the Year' awards in 2005 and is considered to be in international policy circles to be one of the world's leading think tanks on development.
It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010, with guests including former ODI Fellow and UK Business Secretary, Vince Cable.


ODI had more than 230 staff. The Executive Director is Sara Pantuliano. Alex Thier was ODI Executive Director 2017 – 2019. From 2013 until 2016 it was directed by Kevin Watkins who took over from Dr Alison Evans, formerly of the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University. ODI does not engage in teaching.
ODI had the following programmes that focus on aspects of international development:
ODI hosts regular event series with conferences and panels discussing a wide range of development issues. Speakers include ODI staff, visiting development policymakers, DFID officials and other prominent figures such as Justin Yifu Lin, the former World Bank Chief Economist.
ODI has published many books, papers, briefings, and two academic journals, Development Policy Review and Disasters.
In November 2013 an ODI report on fossil fuel subsidies and climate was published, followed up by another report about the same topic a year later, which was discussed by BBC, the Guardian and Die Welt.


ODI runs a fellowship scheme, which sends young postgraduate economists of all nationalities to work in the public sectors of developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, South Asia, South East Asia and the Pacific on two-year contracts. Since 1963 ODI has sent over 1000 postgraduate economists to work in 40 mostly low-income countries. Participants were initially known as Overseas Development Institute Nuffield Fellows and later titled as ODI Fellows.


As a registered charity, ODI's income relies on "grants and donations from foundations, non-governmental organisations, the private sector, governments, multilateral agencies and academia".
For its £28,541,000 income per its annual report from 2013 to 2014 ending 31 March 2014, ODI provided a list of these "major donors", which include Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Oxfam, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Research Triangle Institute, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Swiss Federal Government, The Prince's Youth Business International, UN Women, UNICEF, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, US Agency for International Development, Wiley-Blackwell, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, World Bank.


David Steven of Global Dashboard criticized the ODI for not making the distinction between subsidy and having a lower VAT rate on fuel comparison to other goods.