THE GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH CENTER
About the GDRC:
A Short History

It was on 25 May 2000 that GDRC, the Global Development Research Center, went online.

GDRC began in a very small way in early 1995, when the predecessor of the current Virtual Library on Microcredit - the Informal Credit Homepage - was launched. The NGO Cafe came soon after, and with the launch of the Urban Environmental Management Research Initiative (UEMRI) in 1997, the beginnings of a comprehensive set of programmes were underway.

Eventually, the many overlapping and intersecting themes, in different web servers, were consolidated into five spheres - Environment, Urban, Community, Economy, and Information - within which the 15 programmes were laid out. And GDRC was born as [www.gdrc.org] on 25 May 2000.

GDRC Timeline

April 1995: The 'Informal Credit Homepage (ICM)' was launched. This was the first single-issue 'homepage' launched at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. This was developed as a part of the Ph.D. research of GDRC's coordinator, Hari Srinivas, at TITech.

June 1996: The NGO Cafe was added to the ICM pages, reflecting a non-financial focus of the work being carried out for the ICM pages.

November 1997: Young Planners participating in the World Planning Congress in Ogaki, Japan decided to launch the Urban Environmental Management Research Initiative (UEMRI). A distinct urban bias of programmes and research work began to manifest itself. This eventually became a core focus for future programmes - emphasizing the local and community dimension of issues being discussed.

1998: The programme pages of Urban Environmental Management is designated as a 'Virtual Library' by vlib.org

1998: With the launch of the International Year of Oceans in 1998, activities and research work being carried out under the themes of small islands, coastal areas and oceans in general were consolidated into a set of webpages under the theme, "Oceans, Coasts and Small Islands". These pages were initially developed within UEMRI.

1998: The NGO Cafe, which was so far a part of the Informal Credit Homepage, became independent and was launched as a separate programme.

1998-1999: Emphasizing the need for good global governance became a key policy objective, prompting the in-depth exploration of the issue, particularly its relevance and implications at the city or urban level. Resources developed for training programmes on urban governance and papers/reports written on the topic were consolidated into a set of pages on 'Urban Governance'. This was also set up as a part of UEMRI.

1999: Most of the research and capacity building activities above benefitted from and were primarily carried out over the internet - gopher, web, email et al. Valuable lessons were drawn from these activities on information management principles. These lessons were packaged and presented as a series of webpages on 'Information Systems'. Issues related to information management, knowledge management, information technology etc. were covered.

1999: The NGO Cafe is designated as a 'Virtual Library' by vlib.org [Virtual Library on Non-Governmental Organizations]

2000: GDRC is born! The different programmes resident in different university servers were consolidated and merged into one organization carrying out programmes in five spheres - Environment, Urban, Community, Economy, and Information. And GDRC was born as [www.gdrc.org] on 25 May 2000.

2001:The outputs on (a) Urban Governance, and (b) Oceans, Coasts and Small Islands, were separated from the UEMRI pages, and made into distinct programmes of GDRC. The Information Systems pages were also split into three parts, becoming the GDRC programmes on (a) Information and Communication Technologies, (b) Knowledge Management, and (c) Information Design. At the same time, new programmes on Sustainable Business, Technology Transfer, Informal Sector, Environmental Decision-Making, and Sustainable Development, were also launched.

2002: The Information Design Programme is designated as a 'Virtual Library' by vlib.org

Over the years, GDRC has grown steadily both in terms of its programmatic outputs and the number of virtual visitors it has served. In December 2005, it served an average of 4,500 visitors a day, downloading a total of 28 GB of information during the month. This has now increased to 7,500 visitors a day in 2007, with almost 70 GB of information downloaded every day.

In order to maintain its independence and flexibility in programmatic focus, GDRC has remained a virtual organization, serviced by a network of world-wide 'virtual fellows' and operated on a voluntary basis. GDRC has used only personal funds for its operation, and has neither sought nor received any external funds for its management.

2010: With ten years under its belt, GDRC has grown leaps and bounds, demonstrated by the fact that the website now sees more than 10,000 unique visitors every day. These visitors stay for anywhere from a few minutes to more than two hours at a time, downloading on average about 100 gb per month. More than 250 Virtual Fellows are on the GDRC rosters, working on various programmes and initiatives. About 4 to 10 people join the fellowship every month.

If you have any additional questions on GDRC please send an email to the GDRC Coordinator, Dr. Hari Srinivas at -