Secretary Clinton: Development in the 21st Century *updated*
Here is the transcript of her remarks from today:
***See updates at bottom of post***
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much. I am absolutely delighted to be here and to see a lot of familiar faces, colleagues and friends, development leaders, and especially to be here with the Center for Global Development. I want to thank Nancy for her kind introduction and for everything she has done with this organization and for development overall. I want to thank the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and of course, Fred – I learned that Fred was one of the incubators for the Center – and Ed Scott and others who have really made development and development policy such a central issue in their lives as well as in our nation’s life.
I wanted to give this address months ago, but I thought it wise to wait until we actually had an administrator confirmed for USAID. (Applause.) And we are so pleased that day has come. Dr. Raj Shah, who if you haven’t met yet, I hope you will. It’s been a long wait to find the right person, but Raj was worth the months that we spent thinking about how best to build and strengthen USAID. He brings vision and passion, commitment and experience to this critical position. He will be, as he has been, at the table as we make decisions about development, and I look forward to a very close working partnership.
I also want to recognize, for those of you who have not yet met the new head of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Daniel Yohannes, who is here. We’re delighted that he left a very successful corporate career. He’s an Ethiopian immigrant to this country who really exemplifies the American dream but wants to give back. And so we’re so pleased that Daniel has joined this Administration as well.
I see Alonzo Fulgham in the audience, who served extraordinarily as our Acting Administrator of AID during this past year. I’m very grateful to you, Alonzo. We also have a number of the top team members from the State Department as well. This has been a labor of love working to put development front and center for Jack Lew, our Deputy for Resources and Management who has taken a particular responsibility for development and foreign aid; for Anne-Marie Slaughter who heads our Policy Planning operation; for Maria Otero who came from the world of development with ACCION, and for our economic team – Bob Hormats and Jose Fernandez – who are working with us on projects in the State Department on financial inclusion. So we are looking to have a not only coordinated response from State and USAID, but a whole-of-government approach as well.
I want to start today with a story that often goes untold. It’s the story of what can happen around the world when American know-how, American dollars, and American values are put to work to help change people’s lives.
Like many of you, I have seen the transformative power of development. I have seen the passion and commitment of aid workers who devote their careers to this difficult undertaking. I’ve seen American development at work in a village in Indonesia, where new mothers and their infants were receiving nutritional and medical counseling through a family planning program supported by USAID. I’ve seen it in Nicaragua, where poor women started small businesses in their barrio with help from a U.S.-backed microfinance project. I’ve seen it in the West Bank, where students are learning English today and learning more about America through a program that we sponsor. I’ve seen it in South Africa, where our development assistance, thanks to PEPFAR, is helping to bring anti-retrovirals to areas ravaged by HIV and AIDS and neglect.
But I’ve also traveled our country, and I have been in settings of all kinds. I’ve listened to farmers and factory workers and teachers and nurses and students, hardworking mothers and fathers who wonder why is their government spending taxpayer dollars to improve the lives of people in the developing world when there is so much hardship and unmet needs right here at home. That’s a fair question, and it’s one I would like to address today: Why development in other countries matters to the American people and to our nation’s security and prosperity.
The United States seeks a safer, more prosperous, more democratic and more equitable world. We cannot reach that goal when one-third of humankind live in conditions that offer them little chance of building better lives for themselves or their children. We cannot stop terrorism or defeat the ideologies of violent extremism when hundreds of millions of young people see a future with no jobs, no hope, and no way ever to catch up to the developed world.
We cannot build a stable, global economy when hundreds of millions of workers and families find themselves on the wrong side of globalization, cut off from markets and out of reach of modern technologies. We cannot rely on regional partners to help us stop conflicts and counter global criminal networks when those countries are struggling to stabilize and secure their own societies. And we cannot advance democracy and human rights when hunger and poverty threaten to undermine the good governance and rule of law needed to make those rights real.
We cannot stop global pandemics until billions of people gain access to better healthcare, and we cannot address climate change or scarcer resources until billions gain access to greener energy and sustainable livelihoods.
Now, development was once the province of humanitarians, charities, and governments looking to gain allies in global struggles. Today it is a strategic, economic, and moral imperative – as central to advancing American interests and solving global problems as diplomacy and defense.
Because development is indispensible, it does demand a new approach suited for the times in which we find ourselves. For too long, our work has been riven by conflict and controversy. Differences of opinion over where and how to pursue development have hardened into entrenched, almost theological, positions that hold us back. These stand-offs aren’t fair to the experts who put their lives on the line doing this critical work. They aren’t fair to the American taxpayers who, by and large, want to do good in the world, so long as the money is used well.
So it’s time for a new mindset for a new century. Time to retire old debates and replace dogmatic attitudes with clear reasoning and common sense. And time to elevate development as a central pillar of all that we do in our foreign policy. And it is past time to rebuild USAID into the world’s premier development agency. (Applause.)
Now, the challenges we face are numerous. So we do have to be selective and strategic about where and how to get involved. But whether it’s to improve long-term security in places torn apart by conflict, like Afghanistan, or to further progress in countries that are on their way to becoming regional anchors of stability, like Tanzania, we pursue development for the same reasons: to improve lives, fight poverty, expand rights and opportunities, strengthen communities, secure democratic institutions and governance; and in doing so, to advance global stability, improve our own security, and project our values and leadership in the world.
A new mindset means a new commitment to results. Development is a long-term endeavor. Change seldom happens overnight. To keep moving in the right direction, we must evaluate our progress and have the courage to rethink our strategies if we fall short. We must not simply tally the dollars we spend or the number of programs we run, but measure the lasting changes that these dollars and programs help achieve. And we must share the proof of our progress with the public. The elementary school teacher in Detroit trying to send her kids to college or the firefighter in Houston working hard to support his family are funding our work. They deserve to know that when we spend their tax dollars, we are getting results.
We must also be honest that, in some situations, we will invest in places that are strategically critical but where we are not guaranteed success. In countries that are incubators of extremism, like Yemen, or ravaged by poverty and natural disasters, like Haiti, the odds are long. But the cost of doing nothing is potentially far greater.
And we must accept that our development model cannot be formulaic – that what works in Pakistan may not work in Peru. So our approach must be case by case, country by country, region by region, and cross countries and regions, to face the transnational threats and problems that we are encountering. We need to analyze needs, assess opportunities, and tailor our investments and our partnerships in ways that maximize the impact of our efforts and resources.
Two important and closely coordinated reviews of our nation’s development policy are now underway. The inaugural Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review that I have ordered is led by officials from USAID and the State Department. The Presidential Study Directive on U.S. Global Development Policy is led by the White House and includes representatives from more than 15 agencies that contribute to our global development mission.
As these reviews are completed and recommendations are sent to the President, new ideas and approaches will be refined. In the meantime, I’d like to share a few steps that we are already taking to make sure that development delivers lasting results for people at home and abroad.
First, as President Obama has said, we are adopting a model of development based on partnership, not patronage.
In the past, we have sometimes dictated solutions from afar, often missing our mark on the ground. Our new approach is to work in partnership with developing countries that take the lead in designing and implementing evidence-based strategies with clear goals. Development built on consultation rather than decree is more likely to engender the local leadership and ownership necessary to turn good ideas into lasting results.
But true partnership is based on shared responsibility. We want partners who have demonstrated a commitment to development by practicing good governance, rooting out corruption, making their own financial contributions to their own development. We expect our partners to practice sound economic policies, including levying taxes on those who can afford them, just as we do; or, in countries rich in natural resources, managing those resources sustainably and devoting some of the profits to people’s development. The American taxpayer cannot pick up the tab for those who are able but unwilling to help themselves.
Now, some might say it is risky to share control with countries that haven’t had much success developing on their own. But we know that many countries have the will to develop, but not the capacity. And that is something we can help them build.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation, for example, focuses on countries that have met rigorous criteria, from upholding political rights and the rule of law to controlling inflation and investing in girls’ education. Under MCC compacts, we provide funding and technical support; the country provides the plan and leads the way toward achieving it. There is a lot of work ahead, but early indications of MCC programs are promising. We’re using our resources to help countries that are committed to building their own futures.
This approach highlights the difference between aid and investment. Through aid, we supply what is needed to the people who need it – be it sacks of rice or cartons of medicines. But through investment, we seek to break the cycle of dependence that aid can create by helping countries build their own institutions and their own capacity to deliver essential services. Aid chases need; investment chases opportunity.
Now, that is not to say that the United States is abandoning aid. It is still a vital tool, especially as an emergency response. But through strategic investments, we hope to one day, far from now, to put ourselves out of the aid business except for emergencies.
Our commitment to partnership extends not only to the countries where we work, but to other countries and organizations working there as well. New countries are emerging as important contributors to global development, including China, Brazil, and India – nations with the opportunity to play a key role, and with the responsibility to support sustainable solutions. Long-time leaders like Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, the U.K., Japan, and others continue to reach billions through their longstanding work in dozens of countries.
Multilateral organizations like the World Bank, the IMF, the UNDP, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria have the reach and resources to do what countries working alone cannot, along with valuable expertise in infrastructure, health, and finance initiatives.
Non-profits like the Gates Foundation, CARE, the Clinton Foundation, Oxfam International, networks of NGOs like InterAction, as well as smaller organizations like ACCION and Transparency International bring their own resources, deep knowledge, and commitment to humanitarian missions that complement our work in critical ways. And some foundations are combining philanthropy and capitalism in a very innovative approach, like the Acumen Fund. Universities are engaging in critical research, both to solve urgent problems like hunger and disease, and to improve the work of development, like the work of the Poverty Action Lab at MIT.
Even private businesses are able to reach large numbers of people in a way that’s economically sustainable, because they bring to bear the power of markets. A company like Starbucks, which has worked to create supply chains from coffee-growing communities in the developing world that promote better environmental practices and better prices for farmers; or Unilever/Hindustan, which has created soap and hygiene products that the very poor – long-overlooked by private business – can afford.
I mention all of these because we want to do a better job of both highlighting the multitude of partners and better coordinating among them. There should be an opportunity for us to strategically engage in a country with these other partners where we are not redundant or duplicative, but instead are working together to produce better results. We believe that this will open up new opportunities and increase our impact.
Second, we are working to elevate development and integrate it more closely with defense and diplomacy in the field. Development must become an equal pillar of our foreign policy, alongside defense and diplomacy, led by a robust and reinvigorated AID.
Now, I know that the word integration sets off alarm bells in some people’s heads. There is a concern that integrating development means diluting it or politicizing it – giving up our long-term development goals to achieve short-term objectives or handing over more of the work of development to our diplomats or defense experts. That is not what we mean, nor what we will do. What we will do is leverage the expertise of our diplomats and our military on behalf of development, and vice versa. The three Ds must be mutually reinforcing.
The experience and technical knowledge that our development experts bring to their work is absolutely irreplaceable. Whether trained in agriculture, public health, education, or economics, our experts are the face, brains, heart, and soul of U.S. development worldwide. They are the ones who take our ideas, our dollars, and our commitment to turn them into real and lasting change in people’s lives.
Some of the most transformative figures in the history of development represent that convergence between development and diplomacy. People like Norman Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution, or Jim Grant, whose global immunization campaigns saved millions of children, or Wangari Maathai, whose Green Belt Movement has planted millions of trees across Africa and trained thousands of women to be leaders in conservation. These development giants combined outstanding technical expertise with a passionate belief in the power of their ideas. They did whatever it took to convince at times quite reluctant leaders to join them, and as a result, helped to build and lead national, regional, and international movements for change.
Today, we have many such “development diplomats” working at USAID. They embody the integration between development and diplomacy that, when allowed to flourish, can amplify both disciplines.
For example, a lack of support from government leaders can be stalled or stymie development projects, particularly programs that target marginalized populations, like people with HIV, women, or refugees. In those cases, our diplomats, working hand in hand with our development experts, can help make the difference. They have the access and leverage to convince government ministers to offer support.
Development also furthers a key goal of our diplomatic efforts: to advance democracy and human rights worldwide. I remember vividly visiting some years ago the village of Saam Njaay in Senegal, where a former Peace Corps volunteer some of you may know, Molly Melching, set up a village-based NGO called Tostan, supported by USAID. Through Tostan’s projects, women in the village began speaking out about the health consequences and the pain of female genital mutilation, an accepted practice in their culture. This collective wakening led to a village-wide discussion and soon the village voted, democratically voted, to end the practice. Then men from that village traveled to other villages to explain what they had learned about why FGM was bad for women and girls – and by extension, their families and communities – and then other villages banned it as well. And a grassroots political movement grew and eventually the government passed a law banning the practice nationwide.
Now, it takes a while for enforcement to catch up with the law there, as well as in our country. But the larger point is that the experience in this village demonstrates how development, democracy, and human rights can and must be mutually reinforcing. Democratic governance reinforces development, and development can help secure democratic gains. So those who care about making human rights a reality know that development is an integral part of that agenda.
Development is also critical to the success of our defense missions, particularly where poverty and failed governments contribute to instability. There are many examples we could point to, but consider the situation in Afghanistan. Many people ask whether development can succeed there. Well, my answer is yes. The United States supports a reconstruction and rural infrastructure initiative, run by the World Bank, called the National Solidarity Program, which has made progress even in very challenging circumstances. Through this program, more than 18,000 Community Development Councils have been elected and more than 15,000 infrastructure projects have been completed.
Now, progress is difficult. But it is possible. That is why, as we prepare to send 30,000 new American troops, along with thousands from our allied forces in NATO and the International Security Force, we are tripling the number of civilians on the ground. They include agriculture experts who will help farmers develop new crops to replace opium poppies, education experts who will help make schooling more accessible to girls so that they can have a chance at a better future.
The work of these development experts helps make future military action less necessary. It is much cheaper to pay for development up front than to pay for war over the long term. But in Afghanistan and elsewhere, U.S. troops are helping to provide the security that allows development to take root. In places torn apart by sectarianism or violent extremism, long-term development gains are more difficult.
Now in the past, coordination among the so-called Three Ds has often fallen short, and everyone has borne the consequences. Secretary Gates, Administrator Shah, and I are united in our commitment to change that. The United States will achieve our best results when we approach our foreign policy as an integrated whole, rather than just the sum of its parts.
Third, we are working to improve the coordination of development across Washington. In the 21st century, many government agencies have to think and act globally. The Treasury Department leads and coordinates our nation’s engagement with the international financial system. The Justice Department fights transnational crime. Disease control is a global challenge in this interconnected world that includes HHS and CDC and so many other agencies. So is the quality of our air and waterways, something that the EPA has expertise in. But as a growing number of agencies broaden their scope internationally and add important expertise and capacity, even working on the same issue from different angles, coordination has lagged behind. The result is an array of programs that overlap or even contradict.
And this is a source of growing frustration and concern. But it is also an opportunity to create more forceful and effective programs. The challenge now facing USAID and the State Department is to work with all the other agencies to coordinate, lead, and support effective implementation of the Administration’s strategy.
Indeed, this is our core mission. Through our permanent worldwide presence, our strategic vision, and our charge to advance America’s interests abroad, we can help align overseas development efforts with our strategic objectives and national interests. This will not be easy, but it will make our government’s work more effective, efficient, and enduring.
We are already emphasizing this kind of coordination with our new Food Security Initiative, which brings together the Department of Agriculture’s expertise on agricultural research, USAID’s expertise with extension services, the U.S. Trade Representative’s efforts on agricultural trade, and the contributions of many other agencies.
We know that attracting investment and expanding trade are critical to development. So we are looking to coordinate the foreign assistance programs at USAID, MCC, and other agencies with the trade and investment initiatives of the USTR, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. And we seek to build on the success of regional models of coordination like the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act.
We need to ask hard questions about who should be doing what in the work of development. For too long, we’ve relied on contractors for core contributions and we have diminished our own professional and institutional capacities. This must change. Contractors are there to support, not supplant. USAID and the State Department must have the staff, the expertise, and the resources to design, implement, and evaluate our programs. That is why we are increasing the numbers of Foreign Service officers at USAID and the State Department, and developing a set of guidelines through the QDDR for how we work with and oversee contractors, to make sure we have the right people doing the right jobs under the right conditions.
Fourth, we are concentrating our work in what development experts call sectors – what I think of as areas of convergence. In the past, we’ve invested in many programs across many fields, often spreading ourselves thin and reducing our impact. Going forward, we will target our investment and develop technical excellence in a few key areas, like health, agriculture, security, education, energy, and local governance. Rather than helping fewer people one project at a time, we can help countries activate broad, sustainable change.
To start, we are investing $3.5 billion over the next three years in partner countries where agriculture represents more than 30 percent of GDP and more than 60 percent of jobs, and where up to 70 percent of a family’s disposable income is spent on food. Farming in these places plays such a large role that a weak agricultural sector often means a weak country. Small family farmers stay poor, people go hungry, economies stagnate, and social unrest can ignite, as we have seen with the riots over food in more than 60 countries since 2007.
By offering technical support and making strategic investments across the entire food system – from the seeds that farmers plant to the markets where they sell their crops to the homes where people cook and store their food – we can help countries create a ripple effect that extends beyond farming and strengthens the security and prosperity of whole regions.
We are applying the same approach in the field of health. One of our country’s most notable successes in development is PEPFAR, which has helped more than 2.4 million people with HIV and AIDS receive life-saving antiretroviral medications. Through our new Global Health Initiative, we will build on our success with PEPFAR and other infectious diseases, and we will focus more attention on maternal, newborn, and child health, where there is still a long way to go. We will invest $63 billion over the next six years to help our partners improve their own health systems and provide the care that their own people need, rather than relying on donors into the far foreseeable future to keep a fraction of their population healthy while the rest go with hardly any care at all.
Fifth, we are increasing our nation’s investment in innovation. New technologies are allowing billions of people to leapfrog into the 21st century after missing out on the 20th century breakthroughs. Farmers armed with cell phones can learn the latest local market prices and know in advance when a drought or a flood is on its way. Mobile banking allows people in remote corners of the world to use their phones to access savings accounts or send remittances home to their families. Activists seeking to hold governments accountable for how they use resources and treat their citizens can use blogs and social networking sites to shine the spotlight of transparency on the scourges of corruption and repression.
There is no limit to the potential for technology to overcome obstacles to progress. And the United States has a proud tradition of producing game-changers in the struggles of the poor. The Green Revolution was driven by American agricultural scientists. American medical scientists pioneered immunization techniques. American engineers designed laptop computers that run on solar energy so new technologies don’t bypass people living without power.
This innovation tradition is even more critical today. And we are pursuing several ways to advance discovery and make sure useful innovations reach the people who need them. We are expanding our direct funding of new research, for example, into biofortified sweet potatoes that prevent Vitamin A deficiency in children, and African maize that can be grown in drought conditions. We’re exploring venture funds, credit guarantees, and other tools to encourage private companies to develop and market products and services that improve the lives of the poor.
We’re seeking more innovative ways to use our considerable buying power, for example, through advanced market commitments to help create markets for these products so entrepreneurs can be sure that breakthroughs made on behalf of the poor will successfully reach them.
Here again, there is such potential for fruitful partnership between our government and the dozens of American universities, laboratories, private companies, and charitable foundations that chase and fund discovery. For example, with help from the State Department, U.S. tech companies are working with the Mexican Government, telecom companies, and NGOs to reduce narco-violence, so citizens can easily and anonymously report gang activity in their neighborhoods. We’ve brought three tech delegations to Iraq, including a recent visit by Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google, who announced that his company will launch an Iraqi Government YouTube channel to promote transparency and good governance. And we’re sending a team of experts to the Democratic Republic of Congo this spring to begin the process of bringing mobile banking technology to that country.
Now, of course, innovation is only the invention of new technologies. It’s not just that. It is also any breakthrough idea that transforms lives and reshapes our thinking. Like Muhammad Yunus’s belief that poor women armed with credit could become drivers of economic and social progress. Or Ela Bhatt’s vision of rural destitute women in India pooling together as the Self-Employed Women’s Association to generate incomes and build grassroots democracy. Or homeless women in South Africa who refused to be deterred by their circumstances and organized themselves to gain access to loans and materials that enable them to build their own houses and eventually whole communities that they now help lead.
Or the insight behind conditional cash transfer programs, which integrate efforts to fight poverty and promote education and health. These innovations have now traveled the world; New York City launched a conditional cash transfer program modeled after Mexico’s; Grameen Bank has opened a branch in Queens. So we’ve got to ensure that extraordinary innovations are on a two-way street that we learn as well as we offer. And we need to discover and disseminate as many of these as possible.
Sixth, we are focusing more of our investment on women and girls, who are critical to advancing social, economic, and political progress. Women and girls are one of the world’s greatest untapped resources. Investing in the potential of women to lift and lead their societies is one of the best investments we can make. You all know the studies that have shown when a woman receives even just one year of schooling, her children are less likely to die in infancy or suffer from illness or hunger, and more likely to go to school themselves.
One reason that microfinance is employed around the world is because women have proven to be such a safe and reliable credit risk. The money they borrow is not only invested and re-invested, and turned into a profit, it is used to improve conditions for their families. And it is almost always repaid. I have seen for myself what micro-lending in women’s lives and their families and communities means, from Bangladesh to Costa Rica to South Africa to Vietnam and dozens of countries in between.
Well, you know the proverb, “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime”? Well, if you teach a woman to fish, she’ll feed the whole village. (Applause.)
So today, the United States is taking steps to put women front and center in our development work. We are beginning to disaggregate by gender the data we collect on our programs, to measure how well our work is helping improve women’s health, income, and access to education and food. We’re starting to design programs with the needs of women in mind – by hiring more women as extension workers to reach women farmers, or women health educators to improve outreach to women and girls. And we are training more women in our partner countries to carry forward the work of development themselves – for example, through scholarships to women agricultural scientists in Kenya.
This is not only a strategic interest of the United States; it is an issue of great personal meaning and importance to me, and one that I have worked on for almost four decades. I will not accept words without deeds when it comes to women’s progress. I will hold our agencies accountable for ensuring that our government and our foreign policy support the world’s women and achieve lasting, meaningful results on these issues.
So as we apply these six approaches, more will follow – some new, some variations on the past, all reflecting our commitment to find, test, and embrace ideas that work and to learn from our work at every step along the way.
A half century ago, President Kennedy outlined a new vision for the role of development in promoting American values and advancing global security. He called for a new commitment and a new approach that would match the realities of the post-war world. And his administration created the United States Agency for International Development to lead that effort and to make the United States the world leader.
In the decades since, our nation’s development efforts have helped eradicate smallpox and reduce polio and river blindness. We’ve helped save millions of lives through immunizations and made oral rehydration therapy available globally, greatly reducing infant deaths. We’ve helped educate millions of young people. We’ve provided significant support to countries that have flourished in a number of sectors, including economic growth, health, and good governance – countries like South Korea, Thailand, Mozambique, Botswana, Rwanda, and Ghana. And we’ve supplied humanitarian aid to countries on every continent in the wake of hurricanes, earthquakes, famines, floods, tsunamis, and other disasters.
Americans can and do take pride in these achievements, which not only have helped humanity but also have helped our nation project our values and strengthen our leadership in the world.
These efforts have not been the work of government alone. Most people don’t realize that we contribute less than 1 percent of our budget to foreign assistance. The balance is made up by the generous spirit of Americans and is reflected across our nation’s landscape, from farms to civic groups to churches to charities. Over the years, the American people have opened their hearts and their wallets to causes ranging from eradicating polio in Latin America to saving the people of Darfur, to helping people who are poor in Asia purchase livestock, to investing in microenterprise. This private giving exceeds the amount our government spends on foreign assistance.
Today, we call on that same American spirit of giving to meet the challenges of a new century – not only materially, but giving time and talent. So those of you who care deeply about development and who care deeply about the future of our country and our world, help us enlist more Americans in this effort. Help us recruit technology experts, business leaders, engineers, farmers, teachers, doctors, lawyers.
Help us tap into the talents of the first global generation of Americans – the young men and women graduating from our colleges and universities. Encourage them to volunteer, to intern, to work not only for NGOs, but to lend their energy and skill to the State Department and particularly to USAID. I promise that with Raj’s help, we will do more on our end to make sure that our doors are open to this emerging pool of thinkers and doers.
Development work is never easy, but it is essential. It is the work that America is so in tune with. It reflects so clearly our own values, our spirit of cooperation. De Tocqueville noticed it all those years ago that we join up and we work all the time to help others as well as ourselves. So we have an opportunity now in the 21st century to not only do it, but do it better than it’s ever been done before, and to do it for more people in more places, to give to every child the opportunity to live up to his or her God-given potential, and to help create a world that is more equitable, democratic, prosperous, and peaceful.
We can succeed, and when we do, our children and grandchildren will tell the story that American knowhow, American dollars, American caring, and American values helped meet the challenges of the 21st century. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
UPDATE: Nicholas Kristof just posted this commentary about her speech over at the NYT site. Here is an excerpt:
Sec. Clinton gave an excellent speech on development today. She has a longtime interest in poverty issues, and President Obama’s mother was a pioneer in microfinance, yet so far the Obama administration hasn’t been particularly engaged in global poverty issues. It took forever, after all, to get an administrator for USAID, the aid agency. In contrast, President Bush never seemed very interested in global poverty, but he left a quite impressive legacy there — with Pepfar, the AIDS effort; the President’s Malaria Initiative; and his Millennium Challenge Corporation directing aid to countries with good governance.
So I hope Clinton’s speech, which hit all the right notes but didn’t unveil any specific new initiatives, marks an increased focus on these issues. One crucial point: Clinton emphasized, rightly, that development is a security issue. We fight terrorism not only by dropping bombs, but also by building schools. A couple of other points caught my eye:
–She emphasized measuring results, an approach that has gained ground recently in part because of the work of the Poverty Action Lab at MIT. Some people complain that results are difficult and expensive to measure, but I think this approach is yielding important new insights into what kind of interventions are most cost-effective.
–She talked about partnerships with local countries, and consulting them rather than dictating to them. It’s generally agreed that one of the big mistakes we make in foreign aid is to march in and tell everybody what we’re going to do, so a new emphasis on listening would be a good step forward.
–She focused on investments in women and girls, saying that women will be central to her development efforts. Not surprisingly, I think that’s just right. You just get more bang for the buck when you focus on girls, as Clinton noted. And, more broadly, she talked about investments rather than just aid, which is also the right way to think about some initiatives.