At the United Nations’ New York headquarters, President Obama addressed the development community Sept. 22, announcing a new approach to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
“With 10 years down and just five years before our development targets come due, we must do better,” President Obama said. “We are rebuilding the United States Agency for International Development as the world’s premier development agency.”
Obama highlighted three changes towards achieving the goals by the 2015 deadline in the new U.S. Global Development Policy.
The policy includes changing the definition of “development” to mean helping nations move from poverty to prosperity, versus calculating U.S. dollars spent in each country.
Another change is to focus on the long-term goals of development, to move away from dependence and towards development, to self-sustenance. For example, instead of treating HIV/AIDS, the policy will be to focus on teaching and promoting preventative measures. Instead of distributing food aid, host countries’ agriculture will be developed to increase crop yields and get their products to market. Instead of delivering medicines, the Global Health Initiative will focus on building stronger health systems and deliver better health care.
The president said the greatest initiative of the new policy will be to promote economic growth and focus on increasing entrepreneurship assistance, encouraging the expansion of trade and welcoming investment.
Obama said the United States cannot stand alone to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and, as a result, will be more selective and focus on partners, including foundations and NGOs, to have the greatest impact.
“When a child dies from a preventable disease, it shocks all of our consciences,” Obama said. “When a girl is deprived of an education or her mother is denied equal rights, it undermines the prosperity of their nation. When a young entrepreneur can’t start a new business, it stymies the creation of new jobs and markets in that entrepreneur’s country, but also in our own. When millions of fathers cannot provide for their families, it feeds the despair that can fuel instability and violent extremism. When a disease goes unchecked, it can endanger the health of millions around the world. So let’s put to rest the old myth that development is mere charity that does not serve our interests.”