USAID Administrator Shah Addresses Global Chiefs of Mission Conference

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
February 3, 2011

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah addressed the inaugural Global Chiefs of Mission Conference at the Department of State on February 2, 2011. He spoke about the importance of international development to our nation's security, and addressed how the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) is advancing USAID's work. Administrator Shah said:

"We all know that we're going to be more -- we're going to be safer, more secure, and far better off with more South Koreas than more North Korea -- than North Koreas in the future, and that's basically the fundamental premise that underlines what we're trying to do at USAID in improving the way we work to achieve those types of outcomes.

"We've seen in Southern Sudan recently our participation in a joint diplomacy and development activity that helped enable an outcome that many people didn't think was possible even four or five months ago, and the combination of aggressive, high-level, and mid-level, and at all levels diplomacy combined with some smart programmatic activity that prepositioned ballots before anybody thought they would potentially be necessary made a big difference in bringing together the political will and the operational capacities that were required to achieve what looks to be a successful outcome in the Southern referendum.

"We have, of course, seen in countries around the world like Colombia where our joint diplomacy and development activities working together led to an 85 percent reduction in trade related to narcotics and created the baseline for stability helping countries move away from conflict. And we heard a lot from Admiral Mullen about the core nature of the partnership that brings USAID, development experts, and diplomats together with the military in Kandahar and in so many other parts of that country. And that's very, very critical to our baseline opportunity to have an exit strategy in Afghanistan and to keep ourselves secure vis-à-vis our challenges in Pakistan. So we know in all of these settings that this is a critical part of our overall security mission and a critical part of creating the kind of economic opportunities we hope to have in the future.

"We also know that in a broader sense, our ability to position ourselves more effectively vis-à-vis other countries in places like Africa, in continuing countries in Central America and Latin America where development progress has been stalled to a great extent, and that has led to and contributed to all types of insecurities that come from the lack of economic opportunity, that even in those places that are not often on the front page of the newspaper, our combined efforts in diplomacy and development make a huge contribution to our long-term national security.

"And I believe in the QDDR, we use the phrase that it was the -- that development is, in fact, the forward defense of our national security. But when you think long term and when you play over that long term to really win, we know that we have to be a viable economic partner with sub-Saharan Africa which has a common market that will rival China's in 20 years. And we know that we have to be an effective country selling goods and services today to what we might call the bottom billion or the bottom 2 billion people who live on $2 a day or less, but over time will represent a large and growing middle class and will require us to be competitive in that context in order to have real economic opportunities.

"In order to live up to the obligations that we believe exist in elevating development, the QDDR does in fact lay out essentially a blueprint for reforming the way we work. And at USAID, I've called that blueprint USAID Forward so that all of our missions around the world and our teams here in the United States and our partners in embassies and other agencies around the federal government can understand what it is we're trying to do.

"And the basic premise is that we have to move away from some practices that have been, in my mind, less effective at achieving the real development results that are both measurable, real outcomes we all seek and that create the conditions of success so our assistance over the long run is no longer needed. And that starts with delivering value by putting in place more innovative and more focused strategies in each of our proposed areas of excellence -- areas like food security, where we know smart, focused investments in agriculture coupled with private sector investments and infrastructure and good policies that will enable agricultural development, can really create broad-based, inclusive growth and reduce the number of people who suffer from hunger, extreme poverty, and malnutrition in so many parts of the world. And we know that that's a cheaper long-term effort than dealing with the failed states, food riots, and famines that exist when we fail in that endeavor."

You can read the Administrator's full remarks here.


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