On-the-Record Briefing Previewing Secretary Clinton's Speech on Development Via Teleconference

Special Briefing
Anne-Marie Slaughter
Director Policy Planning Staff 
Raj Shah, USAID Administrator
Washington, DC
January 6, 2010

OPERATOR: Welcome and thank you for standing by. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. During the question-and-answer session, please press *1 on your touchtone phone. Now, I will turn the meeting over to Mr. P.J. Crowley.

MR. CROWLEY: Good morning. Thank you for joining us, and sorry for – we’re running a little bit late. I’m P.J. Crowley, the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. I’m joined by Anne-Marie Slaughter, our head of Policy Planning here at the Department of State, and joining us momentarily – he should be walking through the door any minute – is the new Administrator for USAID Raj Shah.

What we thought this morning is that we would just give you a little bit of – kind of a sense of the speech and a little bit of the background or context for it. Obviously, the Secretary has elevated development as a core element of foreign policy here at the Department, along with diplomacy and defense. And obviously, you see the importance in terms of our ongoing effort in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and including places like Yemen.

So with that as kind of a very brief – what I thought we’d do is have some opening comments that are on the record by Anne-Marie and by Raj. So with that, I will turn it over to Anne-Marie Slaughter first and then Raj Shah second.

MS. SLAUGHTER: Thank you. So the first thing to start with is this is – this speech is a major policy address that really should be read in the context of the Secretary’s policy speeches at the Council on Foreign Relations in July and more recently, her speech on human rights, democracy, and development at Georgetown just before Christmas.

This is a subject on which the Secretary has thought a great deal and is enormously committed to elevating development and integrating it with diplomacy and defense as equal pillars of our foreign policy. She will say in the speech 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 or defense.

So in that context where development is really a central part of our foreign policy, she is going to emphasize the need to ensure that all of our development activities are accountable, transparent, and results-oriented – that the measure for success is not how many dollars we spend or how many programs we fund, but results in terms of actual evidence of development, progress and health and education, economic growth more broadly, and the advancement of women.

This speech is being given in the context of two important ongoing reviews of development policy – the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review being conducted at AID and the State Department, where Raj Shah and I are co-chairs with Deputy Secretary Jack Lew, and also the White House review, the Presidential Study Directive on U.S. Global Development Policy, which is formulating development policy across the government with the many other agencies that are engaged in development-related activities – those two reviews are closely coordinated. And the Secretary is offering her expertise and her thoughts on some of the key issues and talking about a number of things that we are already doing quite differently.

And with that, I’m going to turn to Raj Shah to talk about some of those specific things that we are doing differently that we will – as I said, connecting development to the broader themes of the Secretary’s foreign policy.

Last thing I’ll just say is that this speech is also being given in the context of the news about Yemen, our recent discussions about the critical importance of development in Pakistan and Afghanistan, war-torn areas where we desperately need to see better development results. That’s one dimension of our development efforts. The others are on countries that are in far better shape and are really poised to take off in many cases, countries like Ghana or Rwanda or Indonesia. And our development policy has to address all those contexts.


MR. SHAH: Thank you, Anne-Marie, and I will just share a few basic principles that the Secretary will, I think, speak to in more detail in her important address this afternoon. The principles outlined here, or the comments here, are really all fundamentally about how do you get development outcomes, how do you improve our ability to generate real results for the hundreds of millions of people we try to serve through our development programs, and do that in a way that is scalable, reaches very large numbers, that is sustainable, and that is fundamentally about transformation as opposed to the execution of projects or contracts.

And in that sense, these principles, in my mind, do represent a real change in the operating model of U.S. foreign assistance and do represent an embodiment and an implementation guidance that we’ll be able to put into practice at USAID in a way that’s very consistent with the important principles that President Obama laid out when he announced the Global Food Security Initiative at the L’Aquila summit.

The first is to pursue our work fundamentally in partnership, not patronage. And the Secretary will speak more about this, but it is a real change in evolution where we will have very high expectations of political commitment and accountability for generating results in fields like agriculture and health and democracy. And recognize that it is tough to transition from an environment where the priority might be on control to an environment where the priority will be on trust and partnership. But it is a deeply held principle that the President espoused at L’Aquila and that is taken forward in this context.

Second is around fundamentally elevating development to truly stand with diplomacy and defense as a major component of our foreign policy. And I tend to like to think about some of the giants of development history, people like Mohammed Yunus or Wangari Maathai or Jim Grant, who led immunization campaigns around the world, or Norman Borlaug, the father of the Green Revolution. These people inspired their counterparts and inspired heads of state and, in fact, did that because of their ideas and their ability to point to real solutions that would transform societies. And in that regard, they have inspired all of us.

And one of the things we learned from them is that development and diplomacy, in particular, can be force multipliers when done in a more strategically coherent way. And most of these individuals that I described were, in fact, very much diplomats working with senior leaders around the world to secure buy-in and support and commitment toward the development goals. And so I think that’s an important principle that the Secretary will lay out.

A third is around coordination. And we have – and the Secretary has used the phrase around a whole-of-government approach, bringing the best technical expertise from across the federal government to solve the problems that represent themselves as development challenges. This coordination is especially important on the ground and not just within the U.S. Government, but frankly, with multilateral institutions, with the range of other donor partners around the world, and with NGOs in the private sector.

I think we’ve all – those of us in the development space have observed that it is very hard to expect a health minister to execute a strategic program and offer leadership if they’re spending half or two-thirds of their time having visitors from different donor agencies and different organizations that are part of the solution set, but that are working in a way that’s not coordinated or coherent. And so consistent with principles the President has laid out and that were – actually came out of the Paris Declaration years ago, these best practices of development assistance are something that we will take very seriously going forward.

Another principle is around – is really around developing comprehensive strategies to create transformational change in a focused set of areas, areas like health and agriculture, security, education, energy, governance. Our challenge will be in countries and in places where we work, really focusing on scale and transformative impact, and recognizing that if we try to do everything everywhere, we will likely be unable to have the kind of lasting impact that you can have when you focus our resources and focus our strategic thinking and approach a smaller set of challenges, but in a more comprehensive and strategically significant way.

And the next principle is around investing and innovation. The United States has a very proud history of supporting innovations in agricultural technology, health technology, energy, that have reached some of the poorest communities in the world and saved hundreds of millions of people from starvation and millions of children from premature and unnecessary death and disease. And we will look very carefully at how we can use our core social skills in the area of technology development, of science, and of doing things in more innovative ways, often with the private sector – private companies or private foundations – to really bring a higher level of innovation to the area of development, and to bring that creativity and risk-taking that often does lead to some of the most important breakthroughs on behalf of the world’s poorest populations.

And finally, and perhaps most important, is the fundamental concept that I think Secretary Clinton represents to so many people around the world that women and girls are perhaps the most important area of focus for achieving sustainable development. We have a wealth of data and information that show that a dollar provided to a woman is more likely to be invested in child welfare, in education, in the health of a family and the sustainability of a community than otherwise. And so as we execute our development programs, we will take this focus with – very, very seriously and put into place specific operating principles so that our development efforts can focus on women and girls and serve those communities most effectively.

MR. CROWLEY: P.J. Crowley. One last point – I think that the Secretary will start off her speech by recognizing the domestic context for our support of diplomacy and development. She will start off by recognizing that the American people may be asking a fundamental question: With so many challenges at home, why is it that we are emphasizing the need to invest abroad? And in fact, it is that concept of investment that it is in the fundamental interest of the United States of America to invest in the rest of the world to try to lift countries and individuals up, empower them in a way that collectively, we create more partners and are able, through those partnerships, to solve the major challenges that we face.

But she – but given her background, she understands the context upon this, but will advance the argument that while we will be stressing accountability, we actually have to make sure that we have the resources so that diplomacy and development can continue to advance alongside defense as pillars of a successful national security strategy.

PRN: 2010/008