U.S. Government Statement at the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, May 10, 2011
USAID Press Office

Istanbul, Turkey - Donald Steinberg, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), delivered the following statement on behalf of the United States at the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries.

"Madam Chairperson, ladies and gentlemen, fellow delegates, it is an honor to address this important conference. I want to thank our Turkish hosts for their hospitality and hard work in preparing this week's discussions. We need look no further than our hosts to see how, in a few short decades, a nation's far-sighted policies have created one of the most dynamic economies in the world, now with a seat at the G20 group of nations. Turkey's peaceful and democratic rise as a global power is a remarkable success story, and a model the world celebrates.

This conference is devoted to the LDCs and how we can partner together to realize their enormous promise. We have had ten years to look at the progress since Brussels. The LDCs have had their success stories in the past decade. Many LDCs, especially in Africa, Latin America and Asia, weathered the economic, financial and food crises and enhanced their economic growth and addressed socio-economic conditions. The United States has refocused our assistance in this area. We have increased our ODA financing for LDCs from $988 million in 2001 to more than $9.4 billion in 2010, nearly a ten-fold increase. LDCs now benefit from 31% of our assistance, compared to less than 9% a decade ago.

But the challenge is not just about resources: it involves a new approach toward development, one that stresses host country ownership; the application of science, technology and innovation, partnerships, new measures of accountability and evaluation, resource mobilization beyond traditional official development assistance, and a reaffirmed commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Last September, President Obama announced at the United Nations our country's first Global Development Directive. He committed to re-establish the United States as a global leader on development and re-emphasized the key role of the U.S. Agency for International Development within a whole of government approach. President Obama also reaffirmed our commitment to presidential initiatives - the Feed the Future Initiative for agricultural and rural development within a value-chain approach, the Global Health Initiative to promote better health outcomes, and the Global Climate Change initiative to support countries' efforts at remediation and adaptation - all of which are particularly important to LDCs.

We are also re-engaging with host governments; civil society, both in-country and beyond; the private sector; private foundations; international financial institutions; and the UN as full partners. We are focusing our efforts in regions where democratic governments and good governance help align our country development policy with local priorities. Madam Chairperson, in this pursuit, we must not lapse into viewing development through the traditional recipient-donor relationship, or reverting to all-too-comfortable blocs of nations, whether developing, emerging, or donor. No nation or group of nations has a monopoly on resources, good ideas, moral imperative, or ground truth. Rather, we must emphasize the respective contributions we can each make in areas such as global health, food security, clean water and sanitation, basic education, and other advances essential to human security.

I would like to highlight several areas of particular interest to the United States. For one, we are stressing gender equality and women's empowerment as a vital contribution to national development. This is not just a question of fairness or equity: no development drive can be successful without the unique talents and capacities of women to introduce innovations into rural development, health, and broader socio-economic advancement. Even in situations of emergencies and armed conflict, women are far more than victims: they are key to national reconciliation, reconstitution, stabilization, and development.

As we advance opportunity, we must also guard against the risk of natural disaster. When a devastating tsunami hits Japan, it is a major reconstruction challenge; when an earthquake hits Haiti, it is an existential threat to the nation. In addition to focusing on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, the United States is working with international organizations, host countries, and civil society to help LDCs prepare for disasters and reduce their impact.

Finally, we must move beyond traditional overseas development assistance to focus on broader means of development finance. We are working with partners in the private sector and private foundations; we are helping LDCs generate their own tax revenues and address requirements for transparency and accountability; and we are promoting new programs to support enterprise funds, capital markets and trade opportunities.

Let us remember that the real goal here is to create a situation where foreign assistance is no longer required, replaced by efficient local governments, thriving civil societies, and vibrant private sectors that contribute to economic growth and social development.

Madam Chairperson, sustainable development and reduced global poverty is in the interest of all nations. Development is in our collective national security interests because prosperous nations do not tend to traffic in drugs, weapons, and persons; they do not transmit pandemic diseases; they do not generate large flows of refugees across borders and oceans; they do not harbor pirates; they do not require international peacekeepers and humanitarian assistance. Development is in our economic interests because LDC growth creates markets and exports, generating jobs in Lilongwe as well as Los Angeles, and Dhaka as well as Detroit. And it is in our value structure. We all benefit from living in a world that is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, and respectful of human rights and human dignity.

This is our mutual challenge and our mutual opportunity. Let us ensure that Istanbul is remembered as the place where the global community renewed its commitment to global prosperity for all. Thank you."

For more information about USAID's programs, please visit: www.usaid.gov.

Last updated: May 31, 2012

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