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A Brief History of CIGI

CIGI was founded by Jim Balsillie as a not-forprofit institution in 2001, to advance policy thinking on pressing governance issues linked to economic and global policy challenges. By 2005, CIGI was experiencing rapid growth in its research programs. Some projects have had considerable impact; most notably, CIGI’s proposals for innovation in the G8 system helped lead to the creation of the G20 leaders’ summits.

From 2007 to 2010, CIGI focused on recalibrating existing internal management processes and systems, leading to the development of its first five-year strategic plan, for 2010–2015. The plan outlined CIGI’s research under distinct themes, each led by a director. During these years, CIGI also partnered with the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University to launch the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA), culminating in the 2011 completion of construction of the CIGI Campus. By 2012-2013, CIGI had expanded its inhouse research capacity — recruiting directors of the Global Economy and the Global Security & Politics Programs, more research staff and new fellows to lead projects — while also creating a more formal program of work and budget for board approval each year. The increase in project publications and events mirrored the expansion of Programs’ mandate and enhanced capacity.

The International Law Research Program (ILRP), launched in 2013, represents the third pillar of CIGI’s core research streams. The other two are: Global Economy and Global Security & Politics. These three core themes continue to be complemented by crosscutting initiatives that focus on development, energy and the environment, with governance remaining as the overarching theme.


As it marked its tenth anniversary in 2011, CIGI was really just setting out on its journey. Given CIGI’s stated vision to be “the world’s leading think tank on international governance with recognized impact on significant global problems,” and realizing the magnitude of the issues to be tackled — global economic crises, the dangers of climate change, the immense disparities in world development and threats to security, including nuclear risks and armed conflict — the road toward “recognized impact” appeared to be long and challenging. Helping to transform how the entire planet’s nation-states and people interact among themselves is no small objective. Read more.

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