CGD Board Chair Lawrence H. Summers delivered this keynote speech at an event hosted at the Center for Global Development on November 8, 2017. A video of the speech is also available.
Climate change is a threat not only to prosperity in the United States but also to national security, foreign policy, and development objectives throughout the world. Hurricane Sandy served as a reminder of the destruction to life and property from extreme weather events, which are likely to become more frequent and severe. Likewise, extended drought in the Southwest illustrates how climate change could affect agriculture, energy, recreation, and other major sectors of the US economy. The implications of climate change for the development prospects of poor countries are even worse. Lacking infrastructure, financial assets, insurance mechanisms, or strong institutions to cushion the impacts, developing societies remain highly vulnerable to natural disasters, including those resulting from increasingly irregular climatic conditions. The poorest households are most vulnerable — their houses often perch on steep, landslide-prone hillsides around cities or in coastal floodplains, and smallholder farmers lack irrigation and depend on increasingly erratic seasonal rains.
The same ideals that guided America’s earliest women of courage now lead our country into the world to combat the dehumanization of women in every form. We will not accept that women and girls are sold into modern-day slavery. We will not accept that women and girls are denied an education. We will not accept so-called honor killings, and we’ll do everything that we can to end forced early marriages. And we will work to improve health-care opportunities for all women so that they can help to build a more hopeful future for themselves and for their own children.
As late as 1930, only 1 in 10 rural Americans had access to electricity. In subsequent years, rapidly increasing power generation and growing the electrical grid across the country became major pillars of the American battle against domestic poverty and a foundation for decades of economic growth and wealth creation. Today, energy access is universal in the United States. Reliable and affordable electricity is considered a basic necessity of life, an indispensable input to almost every aspect of modern living.
That same transformation is possible today in large parts of the developing world, where lack of access to modern energy harms quality of life and constrains economic growth. A concerted policy effort by the United States could help unleash tremendous human and market potential around the world. Pushing to promote electricity generation and access could significantly contribute to doing good in developing countries — and doing well for the United States.
MCC’s model has received much recognition. However, since the agency controls just a small portion of the US foreign assistance budget, it alone has not fulfilled — and cannot be expected to fulfill — the founding vision of transforming US foreign assistance policy. Partly in response to the recommendations stemming from the 2010 Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) on Global Development, the larger agencies, especially the US Agency for International Development (USAID), have commendably worked to incorporate many of the same principles included in MCC’s model. For the most part, however, those principles are applied to a still-limited portion of the overall US foreign assistance portfolio. The next US president should continue to support MCC as a separate institution and support efforts to more thoroughly extend the good practices promoted in MCC’s model throughout US foreign assistance in general.
On March 19, 2015, senior fellow and director of CGD’s Rethinking US Development Policy Initiative Ben Leo testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy at a hearing about the potential for greater US trade and investment with S
The need for infrastructure improvements is a top-tier economic, political, and social issue in nearly every African country. Although the academic and policy literature is extensive in terms of estimating the impact of infrastructure deficits on economic and social indicators, very few studies have examined citizen demands for infrastructure.
With MCC entering its second decade, there are active questions about what it can do to expand its impact. One question is to ask how MCC might expand the set of partners with which it works.
Advancing the US–Africa Trade and Development Agenda: Aligning US Policy Tools to Address Core Competitiveness Constraints
On July 29, 2014, senior fellow and director of CGD’s Rethinking US Development Policy Initiative Ben Leo testified before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade at a hearing about the future of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) .
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is at a crossroads. Many of its early compacts—large-scale, five-year grants that support country-led solutions to poverty reduction through economic growth in a select set of poor but well-governed countries—are coming to a close.
Getting Serious about Underperformance of the African Growth and Opportunity Act: Policy Options for Supporting Trade Potential in Africa
With the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) scheduled to expire in September 2015, the US Congress and Obama Administration will need to consider its status this year.
Maximizing Access to Energy: Estimates of Access and Generation for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s Portfolio
We conservatively estimate that more than 60 million additional people in poor nations could gain access to electricity if the Overseas Private Investment Corporation were allowed to invest in natural gas projects, not just renewables.
Opening markets to trade with poor countries was a key part of the eighth Millennium Development Goal and its global partnership for development. Countries recognized that development is about more than aid and that the poorest countries needed to be more integrated with the global economy to help them create jobs and opportunities for growth. In 2005, the World Trade Organization embraced this goal and developing country members agreed that those of them “in a position to do so” should also open their markets to the least developed countries (LDCs). Since then, most developed countries have removed barriers on at least 98 percent of all goods for LDC exporters, while China and India adopted less expansive programs to improve market access for these countries.
A strengthened OPIC—more efficiently deploying existing tools at no additional budget cost—would (1) increase US commercial access in emerging economies, (2) reflect economic, social, and political priorities in developing countries, (3) promote flagship US initiatives during austere budget conditions, and (4) support stability in fragile or frontline states.
Billions for War, Pennies for the Poor: Moving the President's FY2008 Budget from Hard Power to Smart Power
President Bush's FY2008 budget request provides a first glimpse into how the administration's new foreign assistance framework and transformational diplomacy agenda translate into who gets how much for what. In this CGD essay, authors Samuel Bazzi, Sheila Herrling and Stewart Patrick, show that the U.S. continues to devote a tiny fraction of national wealth to alleviate poverty and promote growth in the developing world. They recommend reform of U.S. development assistance include: a comprehensive national strategy for global development; a hard look at the top recipients; impact evaluation; a cabinet-level development agency; and rewriting the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Learn more
As the first country to sign a compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Madagascar has been the global guinea pig for the MCA approach. Its early experience offers important lessons for countries following in its path - both about the real challenges of program administration, and the real potential of the MCA as a source of transformation and innovation.
Controversies about aid effectiveness go back decades. This new working paper by CGD senior fellow Steven Radelet provides an introduction and overview of the basic concepts, data and key debates about foreign aid. It explores the range of views on the relationship between foreign aid and economic growth and discusses the reform of foreign aid, including selectivity, country ownership, the participatory approach, harmonization and coordination, and results-based management.Learn more
Development refers to improvements in the conditions of people’s lives, such as health, education, and income. It occurs at different rates in different countries. The U.S. underwent its own version of development since the time it became an independent nation in 1776.Learn more about Rich World, Poor World: A Guide to Global Development