In the aftermath of President Obama’s announcement of his new Afghanistan strategy and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s nomination hearing for USAID Administrator nominee Dr. Rajiv Shah, MFAN member and Oxfam VP of Policy and Advocacy Paul O’Brien appeared on CNN’s “Amanpour” to address the importance of U.S. development efforts in Afghanistan and foreign assistance reform more broadly. Check out the video below:
Archive for the ‘White House’ Category
November 10, 2009 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:
We applaud the nomination of Dr. Rajiv Shah to be Administrator for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). We are hopeful that his unique combination of knowledge about global health, agriculture, and other issues will allow him to provide a strong and indispensable development voice as major decisions are made about U.S. foreign policy. Congress should confirm Dr. Shah quickly.
If confirmed, Dr. Shah will take leadership of America’s premier development agency at a time when we face complex challenges in the developing world, not just from conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also from transnational threats such as disease, poverty and lack of opportunity, hunger, climate change, and political instability. This is why the Obama Administration has pledged to elevate development as a core pillar of U.S. foreign policy alongside defense and diplomacy, and is already undertaking a whole-of-government review of how the U.S. engages with poor countries. If confirmed, Dr. Shah will be the U.S. government’s lead voice on these urgent issues; therefore, the Obama Administration should take the following steps to empower him during these challenging times by:
- Giving him a seat at the National Security Council from which he can bring a high-level and distinct development voice to critical foreign policy discussions, including the White House’s ongoing Presidential Study Directive on Global Development Policy;
- Installing him as a co-chair of the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR); and
- Revitalizing the agency he will lead by restoring USAID’s policy planning and budget capabilities, as well as the technical development capacity and expertise of the agency (as provided for in the bipartisan Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009, S.1524, which the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider soon).
We look forward to supporting Dr. Shah and the Obama Administration in their efforts to strengthen development and make foreign assistance more effective and accountable for the 21st century.
CONTACT: Sam Hiersteiner at 202-295-0171 or email@example.com.
As we noted yesterday, WWF US President and CEO Carter Roberts, one of the world’s leading conservationists, has a unique view on foreign assistance reform. Today, he brought his message to Capitol Hill for a bi-cameral hearing on the innovative Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), hosted by Rep. Ed Royce (D-CA), chair of the International Conservation Caucus. In his testimony at the hearing, Roberts drew important links between conservation and foreign assistance reform:
“More work should also be done, for the benefit of the Congo Basin and other developing countries, by the U.S. government to modernize its foreign assistance. We are in need of an overarching development strategy that recognizes the critical importance of securing the underlying natural resource base. We need a USAID Administrator and a strengthened development agency to carry out programs like the model CBFP in other regions and scale up efforts to meet pressing natural resource challenges. And we need to help build the capacity of civil society and governments within these regions so that host countries will own these programs and assure their sustainability into the future.”
For more information on the hearing, click here.
For more information on WWF’s foreign assistance reform work, click here.
The following blog post by MFAN Principal Noam Unger, fellow and policy director of the Foreign Assistance Reform project at the Brookings Institution, was originally published on the Brookings website and at Huffingtonpost.com.
In his rousing speech at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative yesterday, President Obama tied together his administration’s recurrent themes of international collaboration, public-private cooperation, and service. By planting these themes in the context of our highly globalized world—the ways in which it presents real opportunities and grave threats, Obama struck chords resonant with his campaign’s global development and democracy policy statement to “strengthen our common security by investing in our common humanity.”
The key feature of his speech was a call for a new spirit of global partnership, emphasizing that real progress in lifting millions out of poverty and countering transnational threats cannot be made by governments alone. The president declared his desire for this spirit to guide his administration and he referred to it as “a defining feature of our foreign policy.”
It is heartening to hear the president say “we’re renewing development as a key element of American foreign policy,” and he is right to place significant importance on the role of public-private partnerships and service. Of course the devil is in the details.
In a piece we wrote this summer, Brookings colleagues Homi Kharas, Johannes Linn and I recommended elevating global development on the administration’s agenda and we commented on key elements of reforming U.S. global development policies and operations: leadership, strategy and legislation.
On the issue of partnerships, there are a number of straightforward steps the U.S. government could take to advance global development efforts. These are presented in Strengthening America’s Global Development Partnerships: A Policy Blueprint for Better Collaboration Between the U.S. Government, Business and Civil Society, a paper I wrote with Jane Nelson, another Brookings colleague who is also the director of the Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative at Harvard and a Director of the International Business Leaders Forum. Here’s the brief summary:
In the face of compounding global crises threatening development, the outdated U.S. foreign assistance system must catch up to a changed landscape of influential actors including corporations, mega-foundations, faith-based organizations and other non-governmental groups. Within the context of broader foreign assistance reform, the Obama administration and Congress have an opportunity to retool official U.S. efforts to more effectively and efficiently support global development by adapting to this new ecosystem. This paper offers recommendations on how the U.S. government can better position itself by:
- Strengthening its capabilities to make innovative and strategic investments;
- Encouraging cross-sector partnerships aligned with core competencies;
- Promoting international service, professional exchanges and citizen engagement;
- Supporting development of global norms and guidelines; and
- Leveraging the bully pulpit to mobilize stakeholders.
To understand the tie-ins to Obama’s service agenda, it is also worth checking out analysis by Brookings’ Initiative on International Volunteering and Service. In his CGI speech, Obama linked domestic and international service. This approach presents real potential for global development efforts. As Jane and I note in our paper, new models at home may also apply overseas. The lessons that will be learned as the White House
Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation fine-tunes its programs—including an innovation and replication fund to invest in proven approaches to poverty alleviation—could also accelerate progress through similar efforts on the global development front.
The effort to fundamentally upgrade U.S. global development policies and operations is still gearing up. With policy reviews underway at the White House and the State Department, and with legislation percolating in both the House and the Senate, momentum is apparent. The degree to which these different efforts move in the same direction—toward more effective development policies and implementation—will determine whether the U.S. can restore its leadership on these issues. The effectiveness of programs in the field are directly linked to Washington efforts to make development more coherent, better resourced, and suitably oriented toward partnerships with other key actors—including multilateral organizations, other government donors, international business and civil society, and, most notably, the recipients.
In a speech at the UN General Assembly this morning, President Obama again put development at the center of his foreign policy vision, laying out an agenda for how nations can cooperate to solve some of the world’s toughest challenges, including poverty and disease, nuclear proliferation, climate change, the economic crisis, and conflict:
“At a time of such interdependence, we have a moral and pragmatic interest in broader questions of development. And so we will continue our historic effort to help people feed themselves. We have set aside $63 billion to carry forward the fight against HIV/AIDS; to end deaths from tuberculosis and malaria; to eradicate polio; and to strengthen public health systems. We are joining with other countries to contribute H1N1 vaccines to the World Health Organization. We will integrate more economies into a system of global trade. We will support the Millennium Development Goals, and approach next year’s Summit with a global plan to make them a reality. And we will set our sights on the eradication of extreme poverty in our time.
Now is the time for all of us to do our part. Growth will not be sustained or shared unless all nations embrace their responsibility. Wealthy nations must open their markets to more goods and extend a hand to those with less, while reforming international institutions to give more nations a greater voice. Developing nations must root out the corruption that is an obstacle to progress – for opportunity cannot thrive where individuals are oppressed and business have to pay bribes. That’s why we will support honest police and independent judges; civil society and a vibrant private sector. Our goal is simple: a global economy in which growth is sustained, and opportunity is available to all.”