Earlier this month at the Global Chiefs of Mission Conference, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah spoke to 300 U.S. diplomats, who were brought home from around the world to strategize diplomacy and development goals laid out in the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR). During the conference, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted diplomacy as the front line of American foreign policy; Shah complemented her remarks by explaining the current goals of USAID and how US diplomats can help implement them.
Shah stressed the importance of development work, calling it “the forward defense of our national security.” He mentioned amazing progress in Southern Sudan, an 85% reduction in narcotics trade in Colombia, and the continued work towards an exit strategy in Afghanistan as examples of development work’s stabilizing effects on volatile nations. He also highlighted development in terms of future economic opportunities for the United States, saying “the bottom billion” will eventually “represent a large and growing middle class and will require us to be competitive in that context in order to have real economic opportunities.”
Shah went on to describe “USAID Forward,” which will move away from inefficient practices and instead focus on development strategies that are proven to have long-term, lasting value. He briefly described priorities in food security, global health, and economic growth and said that in these and other areas of focus, USAID is seeking to put in place “more effective, more modern, and more efficient strategies to get better results and better outcomes.” But in order to achieve these results, better partnership is needed; “our diplomats and our development experts need to hold hands and pursue these goals together.”
He concluded his speech by asking the chiefs of mission to engage with USAID activities happening in their countries and to have conversations about development goals with the leaders they encounter. He also asked for their assistance in implementing USAID’s new evaluation policy and procurement reforms, and requested that they think through how science and technology can be used as a tool for improvement.
To listen to or read a full transcript of Rajiv Shah’s remarks, visit: http://www.state.gov/s/c/remarks/155892.htm