President Obama’s Commitment to Global Development
2015 is a pivotal year for global development. World leaders gathered in New York today to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (“2030 Agenda”). The adoption of the 2030 Agenda, which sets out a global development vision and priorities for the next 15 years, captures the hopes and ambitions of people around the globe for meaningful change and progress, including here in the United States. Through the adoption of this historic framework, the United States joins with countries around the world in pledging to leave no one behind by ending extreme poverty and prioritizing policies and investments that have long-term, transformative impact and are sustainable. Under the Obama Administration, the United States has committed and helped mobilize more than $100 billion in new funding from other donors and the private sector to fight poverty in the areas of health, food security, and energy. In the United States, the adoption of the 2030 Agenda coincides with a growing bipartisan consensus on the importance of global development, and direct philanthropic contributions from the American people, who annually provide substantial support for emergency relief and development around the world.
This is a time for optimism and celebration of the remarkable gains to which the MDGs have contributed worldwide, including: decreasing the global share of people living on less than $1.25 per day by more than two-thirds since 1990; more than halving the rate of child mortality; and reaching gender parity in primary-school enrollment. At the same time, the 2030 Agenda builds on the MDGs, reflecting the lessons the world has learned since 2000 about what works, including the need for more transparent, accountable and inclusive approaches to development, to focus on transformative priorities that have sustainable impact, and to leverage the full array of resources for development. The 2030 Agenda, as the successor framework to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), follows the adoption in July of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (Addis Agenda), a roadmap to help countries identify, attract and access diverse sources of development finance to realize the 2030 Agenda. It also paves the way for a global agreement on climate change due to be concluded at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in December.
This pivotal juncture provides an important opportunity to take stock of how far U.S. development policy has come and the many U.S. initiatives that will be key to achieving these goals. Building on more than a half century of global leadership, including the creation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) under President George W. Bush, President Obama released the first U.S. Global Development Policy in 2010. For the first time, global development was elevated as a core pillar of American power, and recognized as a strategic, economic, and moral imperative for the United States. The President laid out a vision that places a premium on many of the principles and objectives reflected in the 2030 Agenda, including: broad-based economic growth; democratic governance; game-changing innovations; leveraging international partnerships and the vast array of development financing; and building sustainable systems to meet basic human needs.
Today, U.S. global development investments are now better targeted to achieve sustainable development outcomes and impact; to leverage critical partnerships with other donors, the private sector and nongovernmental partners; and to more effectively use the power of technology and innovation to lift the most vulnerable out of poverty. The United States is exercising global leadership that will be pivotal to achieving the 2030 Agenda in the following areas:
- Global health and Global Health Security Agenda: Under the Obama Administration, U.S. contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) have totaled $7.2 billion, and we have leveraged more than $13.2 billion in contributions to the Global Fund from other sources. Through these investments the United States continues to lead the world in our investments in global health to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic and contribute to an AIDS free generation, fight malaria and TB, reduce maternal and child deaths, and strengthen health systems. Today, the President announced ambitious new targets for PEPFAR, including a U.S. goal to reach a total of 11.4 million people with HIV/AIDS treatment by the end of 2016, and 12.9 million people by the end of 2017; achieve a 25% decrease in HIV incidence among adolescent girls and young women (aged 15-24) within the highest burden geographic areas of 10 sub-Saharan African countries jointly with partners by the end of 2016; and achieve a 40% decrease in HIV incidence among adolescent girls and young women (aged 15-24) within these areas by the end of 2017. Although our work is far from done—the United States, along with partners from around the world, has made significant progress in the fight against Ebola in West Africa. We need to stay vigilant in our efforts to counter biological threats and to prevent future outbreaks from becoming epidemics. That is why we have made a commitment to assist at least 30 countries to achieve the targets of the Global Health Security Agenda to build national, regional, and international capability to prevent, detect and respond to infectious disease threats, whether naturally occurring, accidental or intentional. The G-7 Leaders have taken a decision to match this commitment by collectively offering to assist at least 60 countries.
- Food security and nutrition: Following the 2009 G8 L’Aquila Summit and President Obama’s call for global leaders to do more to address food insecurity, the United States led a campaign that mobilized $22 billion in assistance for agriculture, and today food security and nutrition are at the top of the global agenda after decades of decline in investment. Through the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the United States and its partners have mobilized $10 billion in private sector commitments from more than 200 international and African companies, of which $1.8 billion has already been invested in Africa’s agricultural sector. The number of hungry people in the world – 795 million – has dropped by 100 million over the past decade, thanks in no small part to these and other coordinated international efforts. Recognizing that investing in agricultural development and improved nutrition can have transformative impact in reducing hunger and extreme poverty, President Obama announced the Feed the Future initiative in 2010, building on previous U.S. commitments, including the Initiative to End Hunger in Africa. Through Feed the Future, the Administration is working closely with our country partners to support inclusive economic growth through development of the agriculture sector. U.S. efforts have resulted in increased yields, higher incomes, improved nutrition and more dynamic economies. Complementing our bilateral efforts, the United States launched together with other donors the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), an innovative multi-donor trust fund that has allocated $1.4 billion to date to 25 low-income countries to help boost agricultural productivity. Building on the momentum created by Feed the Future, the United States is also promoting inclusive, collective global action to increase food security. With other G-7 countries and African leaders, President Obama launched the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in 2012 to promote sustainability through increased and more responsible private-sector investment in African agriculture.
- Power Africa: Since its launch, when the United States committed $7 billion, Power Africa has leveraged nearly $43 billion in external commitments, including more than $31 billion in private-sector commitments alone. Through Power Africa, the United States is working together with a range of partners to accelerate private-sector energy transactions, by leveraging the assistance, financing, commercial and diplomatic tools of the U.S. Government, as well as by leveraging the tools and expertise of our bilateral and multilateral partners, including the African Development Bank, the World Bank Group, the Swedish Government, the European Union, and more than 100 private-sector partners. The dramatic investments the United States and these partners are generating will change people’s lives for the better.
- Ending extreme poverty: The development policy of and major development initiatives led by the United States are built on the premise that fighting extreme poverty and fostering sustained and inclusive growth, equal access to opportunity and open and fair governance serve one and the same mission. To further sharpen that mission, USAID released earlier this week its new Vision for Ending Extreme Poverty, which sets forth USAID’s definition of extreme poverty, its understanding of what has driven progress, analysis of pertinent trends and challenges, and a strategic framework for USAID’s ongoing commitment to this mission.
- Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls:Twenty years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the affirmation that “women’s rights are human rights,” women and girls around the world continue to face profound inequalities in every area of life, in every country, and in both public and private spheres. The United States is deeply committed to promoting gender equality and advancing the rights of women and girls around the world.
- Climate Change and Resilience: The United States is committed to facilitating climate resilient, low emissions economic growth in developing countries, including through the President’s Global Climate Change Initiative. Recognizing that climate change poses a systemic risk, President Obama signed an Executive Order that requires federal agencies to take climate resilience into account across U.S. international development programs, helping to ensure that our foreign assistance fosters a low-carbon future and promotes sustainable and resilient societies over the coming decades. This Administration has worked to make our climate financing efficient, effective, innovative, and focused on achieving measurable results based on country-owned plans, while mobilizing private investment. These efforts complement U.S. investments in other areas; last year, for example, the United States and other global leaders launched the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture (GACSA), a multi-stakeholder coalition dedicated to addressing the challenges of promoting food security and supporting agricultural growth in the context of climate change.
- Education: The United States has contributed $127 million to theGlobal Partnership for Education (GPE), which, along with other donor contributions, has helped put 22.5 million more children in school. In March 2015, First Lady Michelle Obama announced Let Girls Learn, a new initiative that will build on investments the United States has made and successes achieved in global primary-school education, and expand them to help adolescent girls complete their education and pursue their broader aspirations.
- Promoting open government: In 2011, President Obama joined with seven other heads of state to launch the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a global initiative to increase transparency, bolster citizen engagement, and harness new technologies to improve governance. Today, this partnership has grown from 8 to 66 nations that have made more than 2,000 commitments to improving governance for some 2 billion people worldwide. Today, the United States joined OGP Steering Committee members in signing a declaration on Open Government for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- Catalyzing private investment and other sources of financing:Across these initiatives and more broadly, this Administration is advancing a new model of development focused on using our development finance tools to mobilize private and other forms of capital for sustainable development and as a lever to spur transformation. In July, the United States joined with other development partners to launch the Addis Tax Initiative, a partnership to help developing countries better mobilize and effectively use their own domestic resources to achieve sustainable development. Under this Administration, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. Government’s development finance institution, has supported more than $35 billion in private investment in developing and emerging markets. The new projects that OPIC has supported since 2002, when the Monterrey Consensus was agreed, are expected to yield close to $82 billion in private investment. Since its establishment in 2004, the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) $10 billion grant portfolio has leveraged nearly $5 billion in private-sector investment and more than $450 million in partner country contributions.
- Spurring innovation: The Obama Administration has promoted new public- and private-sector efforts to harness cutting-edge technologies, including to accelerate research and scale innovations to support sustainable development. USAID’s Global Development Lab is bringing together diverse partners to identify, test and scale innovations to solve development challenges, and accelerate efforts to end extreme poverty. Through a partnership with other development agencies, USAID launched the Global Innovation Fund in 2014 to boost investments in novel solutions to development challenges. The United States is joining other countries and civil society partners in launching the Global Partnership on Sustainable Development Data, to accelerate the data revolution that will be essential for achieving and measuring progress on the sustainable development goals.
- Mitigating and responding to conflict and disaster: As the human toll of the world’s humanitarian crises reached staggering heights, the United States remains the world’s largest humanitarian donor, having provided $6.5 billion in life-saving food, healthcare, water and shelter this year. Around the world the United States partners with non-governmental and faith-based groups in the response to these crises, and continues to exercise global leadership by issuing calls for the international community to do more to contribute to UN humanitarian appeals. The international community has a collective responsibility not only to help those in need, but to work together to address the root causes of poverty and conflict, to ensure that all people have access to economic opportunity. In addition to leading the world in terms of the generosity of our global humanitarian assistance and emergency response in times of disaster, we’re investing in vulnerable communities across the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and South and Southeast Asia to help them build resilience to crises and conflicts and, eventually, reduce the need for costly emergency interventions.
The 2030 Agenda is ambitious, and there is much work to be done. The adoption of this new framework is just the beginning, and we must recognize that no government or country can deliver on the promise of this ambitious agenda single-handedly. It is incumbent upon all stakeholders – governments, the development community, faith-based organizations, research institutions, the private sector and ordinary citizens – to work together in partnership to contribute to a sustained global effort over the next 15 years, in order to deliver on the promise of this Agenda for our citizens.