September 25, 2009

Obama Talks Development and Diplomacy on the World Stage


President Obama kept a fast-paced schedule this week in New York and at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh where he and Secretary Clinton both stressed the importance of U.S. engagement with the world on topics as diverse as climate change and food security.   While the U.N. General Assembly ended without a clear path to a global compact on climate change, there was a notable change in the way the issue was discussed—not whether we should address climate change but how should we address this issue that impacts us all.  On the food security front, Secretary Clinton is leading a discussion this weekend about a comprehensive approach to food security that the Obama Administration has pledged $20 billion toward.

In New York on Tuesday, the President stopped by the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting, and he discussed how “we’re making substantial increases in foreign assistance.”  Secretary Clinton will be speaking at CGI today, where we expect her to discuss development efforts in more detail.  Previewing the U.S. agenda for the U.N. last week in Washington, Clinton made it clear that the U.S. will “approach development in tandem with our diplomacy—to be effective and efficient and enable the State Department, USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation to pursue and execute 21st century foreign policy goals.”

Administration begins reviews of Development and Diplomacy

The level of activity around development and diplomacy continues to grow in Washington as efforts such as the President’s Study Directive on Global Development (PSD) and the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) begin to take shape.  Gayle Smith, Senior Director for Development at the National Security Council (NSC), and Jeremy Weinstein, Director for Democracy at NSC, are leading the effort on the PSD for the White House, meeting with Congressional staff to gain their input, working with an interagency group to gain insight from all the relevant programs that fund foreign assistance across the government and hearing from stakeholders like the USGLC.

The USGLC will host a public dialogue with the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review in early October featuring the leadership of this important effort—Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew, Director of Policy and Planning Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Acting USAID Administrator Alonzo Fulgham.  As part of the USGLC’s “Putting Smart Power to Work” series, the event will allow for an interactive dialogue between the QDDR leadership and staff and leaders from the NGO and business worlds.

Whether all of the efforts taking place across the government will result in a clear national development strategy, a USGLC recommendation during the Impact 08 campaign, remains uncertain.  We will continue to keep you up-to-date on all of these issues and look forward to giving you more information soon on our event with the leadership of the QDDR.