A Brave New World for Development?
Last week, the White House announced the United States’ new Global Development Policy, officially elevating development as “a core pillar of American power” that is “equal to diplomacy and defense.”
It is wonderful to see the importance of development work acknowledged at such a high level. Some of the concrete elements outlined in the announcement (e.g., building local ownership, measuring impact, and coordinating with other donors) are simply good development practice put into policy across all US agencies and assistance programs.
However, the implications of some of the other items are less clear, such as a “demand a greater focus from assistance programs” and emphasizing “a smaller number of sectors.” Would, for example, IREX’s work in Liberia to both build the capacity of civil society organizations and media outlets be constrained to only one of these important areas in future iterations of the program?
Perhaps the policy’s call for the creation of a US Global Development Council composed of “members of the philanthropic sector, private sector, academia, and civil society” will further clarify—and even help shape—the outcomes of the new policy. After all, bringing stakeholders together to discuss the realities of policy change is itself a standard development practice. And isn’t it best that we in the international development community practice what we preach?
Randal Mason is the Director of Strategic Development at IREX.