USAID Frontiers in Development

Posted by on September 24th, 2014 | 0 Comments »

By Edona Dervisholli

John Kerry

On Thursday, September 18 and Friday, September 19, 2014, the United States Agency for International Development hosted its second forum on Frontiers in Development. This two-day forum gathered a dynamic community of global leaders and development practitioners in order to address the following question: “How will we eradicate extreme poverty by 2030?” This forum included in-depth discussions, high-profile talks, and many interactive panels to discuss development. It also featured an “Innovation Marketplace” to showcase new ideas and products for solving problems.

For the first time in history, we have the tools, technologies, and various approaches to end extreme poverty, and some estimates suggest we can end extreme poverty within the next two decades. Creating goals to end poverty first started with the Millennium Development Goal that aimed to halve the global poverty rate between 1990 and 2015. Amazingly, we achieved this goal in 2010 as the global poverty rate fell from 43.0 percent in 1990 to 20.6 percent.

Getting to zero extreme poverty by 2030 requires a new focus in every country.  In the past we could only focus on a few countries with large populations in order to bring the statistical average of global poverty down. Outcomes from these countries were sufficient to decline the overall rate of global poverty, but now, we cannot simply focus upon these countries to end all extreme poverty. Every country needs a unique plan to end poverty in order to achieve the target.

In order to meet this great challenge, we need to attack core threats that hinder the process of development. At the forum, according to the US Secretary of State John Kerry, the new frontier in development starts with stressing the importance of better links between diplomacy and development and fostering innovation through the new U.S. Global Development Lab. The program has improved investments with partner nations and the private sector, and it has enabled a wide range of development tools such as technology, which previously were unavailable to development partners.

Furthermore, threats to development persist, such as global insecurity, inefficient government structures, gender inequality and poor environmental practices. At the UN General Assembly this week, President Obama accentuated the urgent and growing issues of climate change in agriculture. In order to tackle these threats, we need a new agenda with a focus on inclusive economic growth, sustainability and climate change mitigation, gender equality and women’s empowerment. These strategic focus areas are also a focus of GHI’s upcoming 2014 GAP Report. For example, the report explains how India is benefiting from collaboration and public-private partnership initiatives in agriculture, food security and nutrition.

Throughout the two-day conference innovation was presented as a key to unlock the forces of development. Robbie Schingler, President and COO of Planet Labs, spoke about how his company is mapping the world in order to provide a better understanding of development opportunities. His company operates a network of satellites around the globe. This gives practitioners the ability to understand and respond to changes in land and climate, especially for the agricultural industry. For example, Schingler displayed an image of a fire that occurred in a Brazilian sugarcane field. That map helps farmers understand the field’s soil health both before and after the fire, and can help target land conditions for future cultivation.

The forum’s discussion definitely sparked ideas and helped illustrate how partnerships and innovations will empower us to end extreme poverty in the coming decades.

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