David Watson

David Watson

Director of External Affairs
David is ODI’s Director of External Affairs. He leads the public affairs and communications team and works closely with the Executive Directors on external engagement. David has worked in the charitable and public sectors on policy development, international negotiations, public affairs and partnerships since 2002. He was previously a UK civil servant and diplomat, including for the Department for International Development (DFID), where he led EU negotiations for the UK in Brussels on the Sustainable Development Goals and Financing for Development.

David was previously ODI’s Head of Public Affairs, managing the events, media and public affairs team. He supported ODI’s leadership and research teams on external engagement, including advising on maximising research impact, stakeholder management and strategic convening. Before that he was Head of Strategic Partnerships for the Economics, Finance and Inequality team, where he advised on strategy and external engagement, and was the relationship manager for the Gates Foundation.

Prior to joining ODI, David worked for UK DFID on EU policy and engagement, including negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals, and in Ethiopia on Financing for Development. He has ten years of experience working for the UK civil service, including directly supporting government Ministers in private office, representing the UK as a diplomat in Brussels, and developing policy on tackling climate change. He has also worked on policy advocacy and public affairs for issues including equality and human rights. David has an MA in Conflict, Security and Development from Kings College London.


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