Thursday, September 23, 2010

Obama Presents his new Approch to Development

Yesterday at the U.N. Millennium Development Goals Summit,  President Obama gave a speech describing the fundamental changes to the way US delivers aid: the new US Global Development Policy. The "big-hearted and hard-headed" approach, seeks "creating the conditions where assistance is no longer needed." In his speech, the president outline the three pillars that will sustain this approach: 
  • A policy focused on sustainable development outcomes that places a premium on broad-based economic growth, democratic governance, game-changing innovations, and sustainable systems for meeting basic human needs;
  • A new operational model that positions the United States to be a more effective partner and to leverage our leadership; and 
  • A modern architecture that elevates development and harnesses development capabilities spread across government in support of common objectives

Referring to the millions of people receiving food assistance from the WFP and others, President Obama said: "That's not development, that's dependence ... And it's a cycle we need to break. Instead of just managing poverty, we have to offer nations and people a path out of poverty." Then came a needed caveat: "the US has been and will remain the global leader in proving assistance. We will not abandon those that depend on us for life-saving aid."

Anticipating criticizing from foes about the US foreign aid agenda in times of economic pain and budget cuts, President Obama said "Let's put to rest the old myth that development is mere charity that does not serve our interests", and "reject the cynicism that certain countries are condemn to perpetual poverty." He went on to list examples of unprecedented development progress in the past 50 years and linked the development goals to domestic interest:  "In our global economy, progress in even the poorest countries can advance the prosperity and security of people far beyond their borders, including my fellow Americans."

This focus on long-term development is already evident on initiatives such as Feed the Future and Global Health. See the full speech on the video below: