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John W. McArthur
John W. McArthur (personal website here) is an economist and optimist focused on interrelated issues of economic growth, technological advance, sustainability, poverty reduction, and global collaboration. He is a Senior Fellow with the Brookings Institution's Global Economy and Development program, and also with the United Nations Foundation.

He was previously the CEO 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 John served as Manager and 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 Millennium Development Goals. In that role he coordinated a global network of nearly 300 experts who served on ten thematic Task Forces, 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, John proposed a new form of graduate degree to provide rigorous cross-disciplinary training for the next generation of sustainable development practitioners. In 2007 and 2008 he then co-chaired the International Commission on Education for Sustainable Development Practice, an initiative sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation (no relation). He subsequently co-founded the global network of Masters in Development Practice programs that have been launched across two dozen universities spanning five continents.

John has chaired two Global Agenda Councils on behalf of the World Economic Forum and serves as a member of the organization’s Advisory Board on Sustainability and Competitiveness. In 2009 the Forum recognized him as a Young Global Leader.

John’s research and writing has focused on how factors like agriculture, health, geography, institutions, technology, and public finance link to economic growth and development. He has published in a variety of journals including the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Ecological Economics, The Lancet, Advances in Agronomy, and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. His writing for more general audiences has appeared in publications such as the The Bangkok Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Foreign Affairs, Global Brief, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, The Ottawa Citizen, SEED Magazine, the South China Morning Post, and Stanford Social Innovation Review.

John completed a DPhil (PhD) and MPhil in Economics at Oxford University, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar; a Masters in Public Policy at Harvard University’s John F Kennedy School of Government; and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) at the University of British Columbia, where he spent most of his time in swimming pools and was named one of Canada’s Top 10 Academic All-Canadian student-athletes. He grew up in Vancouver and is a Canadian citizen.

Entries by John W. McArthur

Tackle These Three Issues and Extreme Poverty Will Be History

(7) Comments | Posted September 1, 2015 | 9:45 AM

Many people believe poverty to be one of the world's permanent features. Most find it hard to imagine that poverty could disappear altogether. But one of the most striking aspects of the modern global economy is the remarkable long-term decline in the world's worst forms of extreme poverty. We might...

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2011 World Economic Forum: What Happens in Davos

(0) Comments | Posted February 4, 2011 | 1:56 PM

The World Economic Forum's annual Davos conference marks one of the world's more layered brands. For media leaders, it is an opportunity to take stock of sentiments among global business and policy elites. For business leaders it offers a chance to broker deals and, in some cases, announce publicly-minded initiatives...

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Davos 2011: Communities of Action to End Extreme Poverty

(1) Comments | Posted January 25, 2011 | 2:38 PM

This week in Davos, Switzerland, policy leaders from around the world will convene amidst a range of profound undercurrents that are redefining many tenets of global cooperation. At one side of the spectrum, longstanding economic powers are grappling with high unemployment, tight budgets, and a profound sense of economic fragility....

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Our Pledges for the Millennium Development Goals

(1) Comments | Posted September 22, 2010 | 5:42 PM

Upon the conclusion of the UN's major summit on the Millennium Development Goals, we are pleased to share the following statement that has been jointly signed by our friends and colleagues around the world.

- Johann Olav Koss & John W McArthur


This week world leaders are gathering at...

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Low-Cost Thrills in Millennium Village Data

(0) Comments | Posted May 30, 2010 | 8:24 PM

Yesterday, May 30, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the Millennium Villages project (MVP) in Mwandama, Malawi. While there he had the opportunity to meet with local community members first hand and to see and hear about how they are pursuing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a very...

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Some Important Lessons for Global Academic Innovation

(0) Comments | Posted May 17, 2010 | 6:30 PM

Earlier this month the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced more than $5 million in grants to help ten universities establish cross-disciplinary Master's in Development Practice (MDP) degree programs in eight countries around the world. These add to the $10 million in grants that the foundation allocated last...

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Breakthrough Village Results for Integrated Rural Needs

(0) Comments | Posted March 12, 2010 | 1:56 PM

This week the New York Times profiled the early results of the Millennium Villages in Sauri, Kenya. The article by Jeffrey Gettleman highlights the community's remarkable progress in food security, education, health, and income-generation. Crucially, these integrated gains towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been achieved through...

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A People's Plan of Action to Fight Extreme Poverty

(0) Comments | Posted January 28, 2010 | 1:11 PM

By Johann O Koss, CEO and President of Right to Play & John W McArthur, CEO of Millennium Promise

Government leaders cannot solve global challenges on their own any more. In today's much flatter world, it is everyday people --and, critically, their personal networks--who have the potential to be...

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A New Approach to Global Problem-Solving

(0) Comments | Posted July 13, 2009 | 10:20 AM

Last week's G8 Summit underscored the extent to which leaders around the world are straining to manage a flood of concurrent crises. Amidst the news flashes from Kabul, Pyongyang and Tehran, the global undertow of economic, social and environment challenges is equally if not more profound. The economic crisis is...

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Moyo's Confused Attack on Aid for Africa

(26) Comments | Posted May 27, 2009 | 4:16 PM

Ms. Dambisa Moyo's recent Huffington Post article exposes the confusions that underlie her slashing attacks on aid. Most importantly, she seems to believe that sub-Saharan Africa was economically prosperous and then was pushed into poverty by aid. She makes the following statement: "No surprise, then, that Africa is on...

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