Remarks by Administrator Rajiv Shah at the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) Launch

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Good morning. Thank you, Tom. I want to begin by thanking Secretary Kerry, whose tireless efforts on behalf of our country and our vision of a smarter and more capable presentation of diplomacy and development around the world allows us to, today, proudly launch this 2nd Quadrennial Development and Diplomacy Review.

Thank you to Deputy Secretary Higginbottom and Special Representative Perriello. I’m looking forward to working closely with both of you as we go forward here and really have an honest assessment of how we’re doing in an effort to get better. That was the theme that underpinned Secretary Clinton’s launching this initiative originally and I think ought to serve us as well as we go forward this time around.

Now, four years ago, the QDDR provided the strategic foundation to answer President Obama’s call to transform USAID into a modern development enterprise. With direction from the QDDR, we implemented a suite of ambitious reforms that have changed the way we do business around the world. And I’m not going to reiterate the full list of those actions taken or steps forward, but I would note that today you can download an app on your iPhone and pull up hundreds of rigorous, high-quality programmatic evaluations that demonstrates that development and the execution of development cooperation is, in fact, a discipline that needs to be informed by evidence, data, excellence, and delivering real, concrete results.

Last month in New York with Deputy Secretary Higginbottom present, we had the opportunity to launch the U.S. Global Development Lab, a historic investment in the power of science, technology, and private sector partnership to take our work forward in a transformational way. That lab began as a single recommendation in the first QDDR, and I think it’s a testament to the fact that when we get great ideas from our teams through this process, it may take a few years, but together we can actually deliver on the ideas and on the concepts this process will undoubtedly uncover.

Four years later in total, the steps we’ve taken since the first QDDR have made us a stronger and more capable development enterprise and have helped our nation pioneer a new model of development that intertwines policy reform, political commitment, financial support, and private sector leverage to deliver extraordinary results.

While this is a great foundation, we know we have more to do – more especially as we try to answer President Obama’s call, now made in two State of the Union addresses to lead and join the world in ending extreme poverty within the next two decades.

While this goal is ambitious, it is also within reach. This new QDDR will enable us to take advantage of this unique moment in history, one where new tools, technologies, and partnerships are redefining what’s possible, and where we have to address real opportunities and challenges we will face – the challenge of climate change and performance in fragile states and conflict-affected settings.

Now, as we pursue this new QDDR, I just want to share three principles that I’m going to ask our teams to keep top of mind as we go forward. The first is the basic principle that our nation is more secure and more prosperous when we effectively elevate development to stand with diplomacy and defense in how America projects power, influence, and support across a rapidly changing global context.

The second is to live up to that bold aspiration, we have to constantly be willing to do things differently, to continuously improve, to modernize, to partner with others, to get more leverage out of our relationships, and to more actively engage with the Congress and with partners all around the world. And the third is that this is a real opportunity to also bring attention and political support to the work that all of you do every single day.

In just a few weeks we’ll honor colleagues of ours who have lost their lives in the diplomatic or development service by placing their names on the plaque downstairs. And as we do that, we recognize that in fact, whether it’s the quiet diplomacy that averts conflict and keeps people safe or the unheralded efforts to help young girls go to school and learn a bit more so they can build a prouder and more prosperous life for their own communities and families, that the folks we work with every day are, in fact, heroes.

So let’s use this as an opportunity to elevate the role of diplomacy, the role of development, and the role America can play in a world that is, in fact, rapidly changing.

Now, I have the opportunity to introduce Secretary Kerry in the Ben Franklin Room at the State Department, so that’s – I’m not going to do a broad introduction here. But I will say one thing, and that is: The sheer force of Secretary Kerry’s example should inspire every person in this room today, and all of our colleagues at State, at AID, across our government, and in our diplomatic and development community, to be bolder, to be more aspirational, and to be more confident that in a world where people debate sometimes what America’s power looks like 10 or 20 years from now, if we do the right things today, if we follow Secretary Kerry’s bold aspirational leadership, we know that our efforts will collectively shape the kind of world we live in.

So with that, Secretary Kerry. (Applause.)

U.S. Department of State, Washington DC

Last updated: April 25, 2014

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