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John McArthur

Brookings Institution & UN Foundation
Senior Fellow

John W. McArthur is a senior fellow in the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution. He is also a senior advisor to the UN Foundation and a member of the Board of Governors for the International Development Research Centre.

He was previously the chief executive officer of Millennium Promise, the international non-governmental organization. He has also been a senior fellow with the Hong Kong-based Fung Global Institute, a faculty member at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, and policy director at the University’s Earth Institute.

From 2002 to 2006 he served as manager and then deputy director of the United Nations Millennium Project, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s independent advisory body mandated to recommend an action plan for achieving the MDGs. In that role he helped to launch global MDG policy efforts, coordinating an international network of nearly 300 experts who served on ten thematic task forces. He also oversaw a policy team that provided integrated technical advice to governments in low-income countries around the world, and served as lead editor of the project's final report, Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Prior to that he was a research fellow at the Center for International Development at Harvard University, where he supported the World Health Organization’s Commission on Macroeconomics and Health and co-authored the Global Competitiveness Report.

In 2006 he proposed a new form of graduate degree to provide rigorous cross-disciplinary training for a new generation of sustainable development practitioners. This led to him co-chairing, in 2007-08, the International Commission on Education for Sustainable Development Practice, an initiative sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation [no relation]. He then co-founded the global network of Masters in Development Practice programs that has since been launched across five continents.

In 2013-14 he chaired the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council (GAC) on Poverty and Sustainable Development and in 2011-12 chaired the GAC on Benchmarking Progress. He is a member of the Forum’s Advisory Board on Sustainability and Competitiveness and in 2009 was recognized as a Young Global Leader. In 2014-15 he co-chaired a working group convened by the University of Ottawa’s Centre for International Policy Studies, leading to the final report, Towards 2030: Building Canada’s Engagement with Global Sustainable Development.

His work has been published in a variety of journals including theBrookings Papers on Economic Activity, The Lancet, Foreign Affairs, Ecological Economics, Advances in Agronomy, and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. His writing for more general audiences has appeared in publications such as the Stanford Social Innovation ReviewThe Globe and Mail, the South China Morning PostThe National Post, The Bangkok PostThe Ottawa CitizenThe Chronicle of Higher EducationGlobal Brief, and SEED Magazine. His work and perspectives have been cited across many media outlets, including The EconomistBBCCNNCBCCCTV,USA TodayBloombergMaclean’sReutersScientific AmericanLe Monde,Al-Jazeera, and the Washington Post.

John grew up in Vancouver and is a Canadian citizen.  He completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) at the University of British Columbia; a master's in Public Policy at Harvard’s John F Kennedy School of Government; and then an MPhil and DPhil (PhD) in economics at Oxford University, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar.

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