USAID Acting Administrator Alfonso E. Lenhardt delivers remarks at the briefing on the 2015 QDDR at the State Department. / Robb Hohmann, USAID

USAID Acting Administrator Alfonso E. Lenhardt delivers remarks at the briefing on the 2015 QDDR at the State Department. / Robb Hohmann, USAID

The second Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), released Tuesday by both USAID and the State Department, provides a blueprint for advancing America’s interests in global security, inclusive economic growth, climate change, accountable governance and freedom for all.

The document is a strong testament to the central role of development in U.S. foreign policy and to USAID’s role as the leading bilateral development agency. Not only does it reinforce development as a pillar of the United States’ national security strategy, but it also makes clear how important diplomacy is to achieving development goals.

“Development is not just a core pillar of U.S. foreign policy, but also a strategic, economic, and moral imperative.”
2010 QDDR and the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development

The 2015 QDDR outlines four strategic priorities: 1) advancing inclusive economic growth; 2) promoting resilient, open, democratic societies; 3) preventing and mitigating conflict and violent extremism; and 4) mitigating and adapting to climate change. These goals underscore USAID’s Mission Statement. We are working to accelerate ending extreme poverty through inclusive economic growth and helping ensure that people have accountable, rights-respecting governments. However, those gains risk being undermined by conflict, corruption and climate change.

The quadrennial review also strongly reinforces our approach to getting things done and the reforms we’ve made. Building on the 2010 QDDR, it recognizes the importance of modernizing development policies and practices, including the new model of development, which weaves together local ownership, private investment, innovation, multi-stakeholder partnerships, and high expectations for mutual accountability.


It further highlights many of our key initiatives like Feed the Future, efforts to end preventable child and maternal deaths, and Power Africa. The document also pushes for greater agility in our workforce — so we can get the right people with the right skills in the right place at the right time — and a focus on managing risk, rather than avoiding it.

Advancing inclusive economic growth: Economic growth itself is not enough for an equitable, peaceful and prosperous world. What we need are economies that include everyone – women, minorities and other marginalized groups. Promoting stronger, more inclusive economies around the world is helping us achieve our goal of ending extreme poverty while also advancing U.S. economic interests.

Promoting resilient, open, democratic societies: We prioritize accountable governance and transparent, effective institutions because they are key to addressing our greatest challenges. The United States must remain a beacon of human rights and freedoms for those places with increasing repression and closing space for civil society. The report highlights the president’s initiative to Stand with Civil Society and our efforts to establish up to six regional civil society innovation centers to connect organizations with each other and encourage peer-to-peer learning.

Preventing and mitigating conflict and violent extremism: Our success or failure in achieving the aims of the quadrennial review will arguably be tested most in fragile environments where our ability to prevent and mitigate conflict is most essential. The document calls for us to advance a clear framework for engagement in fragile states, and makes it clear that we will prioritize prevention, through early-warning analysis and flexible strategies to nimbly fund our work wherever the specter of conflict or atrocities looms.

Mitigating and adapting to climate change: Climate change represents a growing threat to the potential inherent in more equitable societies. USAID will  make sure our programs, policies and staff take climate change risk and adaptation into consideration. This effort will require us to find new partners in capital cities, in the rural communities we serve, and in rapidly growing urban areas.

Our global leadership demands this combined approach to development and diplomacy, and through it, our partnerships, and an emphasis on local ownership, innovation and results, we are forging a path by which strengthened institutions will bring about accountable governance and, ultimately, a more stable world.


Alex Thier is USAID’s Assistant to the Administrator for Policy, Planning and Learning. Follow him @Thieristan.