Photo: Eivind Senneset/CMI
1 Apr 2022

Espen Villanger moves into the director’s office at CMI

-Research and knowledge are key to effective development policies, says new CMI director Espen Villanger.

On April 1, Espen Villanger takes up his new position as Director of CMI. After 17 years as a researcher at CMI and three years in the World Bank, he is well equipped for the task ahead. He has great ambitions on CMI’s behalf, and one sentence from CMI’s strategy in particular resonates well with him:

‘Address global development challenges – by providing research-based knowledge that informs and inspires policy and practice’.

Throughout his career a focus on the strong link between research and better development policies has been somewhat of a hallmark for Villanger. He has worked extensively on topics like violence against women, job creation, private sector development and poverty reduction, always with an elaborate network of practitioners and with relevance for policy makers in mind.

He looks forward to further developing CMI with a team of highly competent and skilled colleagues in all parts of the organization. When asked about CMI’s strengths, he replies:

-CMI is Scandinavia’s biggest development research institute. We have experienced immense growth the past few years, and we now have a staff of more than 100 employees. Our research covers a broad array of both thematic and methodological competencies that all are crucial if we are to provide solutions that can bring us closer to reaching the Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs). From research on how to end poverty, ensure human rights, to how to reduce conflicts, corruption and inequality.

He is not only ambitious on behalf of CMI and what his team can achieve. He has great expectations to research institutes, universities and educational institutions in the global North and South; that they will take a lead in securing social and economic development by bringing research-based knowledge to the table.  

Yes, CMI has a multitude of research projects, and research of high quality is a priority for us. We contribute to the research frontier in many areas. We deepen our understanding of the world and on how people’s lives are influenced by various factors and on how people themselves can influence their surroundings. But we cannot do it alone. And by no means does our job end there. As part of a bigger research community, we have a responsibility to synthesize and convey findings and knowledge from all existing and relevant research, argues Villanger.

An important task for CMI, argues Villanger, is to be a convenor for the exchange of knowledge and experience.

-We want to create platforms for dialogue and interaction between researchers, policy makers and practitioners where they can learn from each other, he says. Only then can we find the most effective solutions to the development challenges.