Making Sustainable Development Work: Governance, Finance and Public-Private Cooperation

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Remarks at State Department Conference, Meridian International Center
Washington, DC
July 12, 2002

(As Delivered)

Well, thank you very much, Paula, for that warm introduction, and let me also take this opportunity to thank you as well for the superb leadership that you have been giving to this effort, especially as we prepare for next month's World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.

And I'm very pleased to follow my dear friend and fellow Vietnam vet Chuck Hagel. We are members of a mutual admiration society, and he does an absolutely great job up in the Senate on these kinds of issues. He is as committed as anyone in our Congress to trying to do everything we can to help people in need and to push the whole concept of development for all the peoples of the world.

I would like to welcome all the participants who are here today, from the NGO community, the business community, international financial institutions, partner governments and the United States Government as well, and especially the ambassadors who are here representing their countries. And I hope, although I don't see her, that my dear friend and colleague from South Africa, Foreign Minister Zuma, may be somewhere in the audience. And if she is not here at the moment, I'll be seeing her later this afternoon in my office so we can continue our discussion on the run-up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa.

We are very pleased to be working closely with South Africa in the run-up to the summit. For example, we are providing funding to South Africa for the Enviro-Law Conference, and we are co-sponsoring the Summit Institute for Sustainable Development. And we look forward to working even more closely with Minister Zuma and all of her colleagues in South Africa as we get closer to the summit.

I thank Paula for making reference to the fact that this is an important issue for me and for President Bush and for all of us in the Bush Administration. I come to it from a perspective of having been a soldier for many, many years, and in that capacity traveling to many places in the world, fighting in wars where people were suffering, seeing suffering in its many forms. And then after leaving the military, I spent part of my life working with young people who were in need, young people here in the United States, young people who need sustainable development just a few blocks from here. And as rich as we are, as powerful as we are as a nation, we still have pockets of poverty, pockets of people who are living in despair and wondering whether or not their nation cares about them. We have to deal with that.

But in the course of doing that, it brought home to me that these same conditions are even more prevalent around the world, and I have seen it in so many different ways and so many manifestations. And now for the last 18 months as Secretary of State, I have once again not only seen this in my travels around the world, but now I'm in a position to work on it in a more direct and aggressive way. And I want to assure you that I and my colleagues in the Department of State will work hard with our other colleagues in government to do everything we can -- as an administration, as a government, as a nation, and as a people -- to help those in need around the world.

There is a growing consensus on sustainable development, and we could not have achieved this growing consensus that more has to be done without the contributions of the United Nations and its distinguished leader, Secretary General Kofi Annan, and the leadership of Indonesia. Their painstaking efforts have helped us move along the path from the Rio Earth Summit of some years ago through the Bali Prep Com, and now on to Johannesburg and beyond.

It's so important for all of you to have made the time to come to this conference, a conference that we titled, "Making Sustainable Development Work." And I'm sure that is what Paula and John Turner are making you do today: work. Work on practical measures to support sustainable development, and to do everything we can to make sure that Johannesburg is a success. The Johannesburg Summit comes barely 20 months after we welcomed in a new century. Despite the stories and images of trouble we read in our newspapers and view on our television screens, we should also at the same time see this as a time of great opportunity, great opportunity to expand peace, to expand prosperity and expand freedom around the globe.

Part of my day, no matter what else is going on, whether it's a Middle East problem or a problem in South Asia or some other crisis that intrudes on my morning, part of my day really is set aside every day to think about these opportunities, to think about the good things that are going on in the world, and to think about what more we could do as a nation, as a government, working with our friends to take advantage of these opportunities, the march of democracy, the march of the free enterprise system as systems that work. And how can we do everything possible to expand peace, prosperity and freedom? Because only when we achieve those conditions can we really talk about sustainable growth.

The spread of democracy and market economies, combined with breakthroughs in technology, permit us to dream of a day when, for the first time, for the first time in history, most of humanity may be free, or can be made free, of the ravages of tyranny and poverty.

We live in a century of promise. Our responsibility now is to turn it into a century of hopes fulfilled, a century of sustained development that enriches all our peoples without impoverishing our planet. When we talk of sustainable development, we are talking about the means to unlock human potential through economic development based on sound economic policy, social development based on investment in health and education, and responsible stewardship of the environment that has been entrusted to our care by a benevolent God.

Sustainable development is a compelling moral and humanitarian issue. But sustainable development is also a security imperative. Poverty, destruction of the environment and despair are destroyers of people, of societies, of nations, a cause of instability as an unholy trinity that can destabilize countries and destabilize entire regions.

A decade ago, at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio, some 172 countries adopted a blueprint to achieve sustainable development worldwide. While there have been ups and downs and progress has been uneven, we have seen real improvements since Rio. For example, over the past decade, the proportion of people in developing countries struggling to make ends meet on less than one dollar a day has dropped from 29 percent to 24 percent. Not nearly enough, but it's a beginning. It's a start. Infant mortality has declined by more than 10 percent, and mortality among children under five is nearly 20 percent lower.

Countries that have opened their economies have done better than those who have remained closed. It's as simple as that. A World Bank study found that over the course of the 1990s, the 24 developing countries that increased their global trade and investment the most, those that did the most with respect to increasing global trade and investment, also increased income per person much more than those that did not move in this direction. In those countries, the number of people living on less than one dollar a day dropped by 120 million people between 1993 and 1998.

We have also seen the conclusion and implementation since Rio of important environmental agreements, such as those to reduce substances harmful to the air we breathe and to control the spread of deserts. But while we have progressed along the road to hope, we have far to go in a world where one person in five still suffers in extreme poverty, and where a baby's chances of surviving to adulthood still depend on the accident of where he or she is born.

Over the past nine months, a series of major conferences and negotiations have helped to map the way forward. The Doha Development Round of World Trade Organization negotiations, the World Food Summit Review Conference in Rome, and the G-8 Summit in Canada all forged stronger agreement on the path to development. It also proclaimed the Monterrey consensus was an historic affirmation of the need to mobilize all sources of development financing, and the Monterrey consensus also proclaimed the importance of sound policies, good governance at all levels, and the rule of law to sustainable development.

As our Peruvian colleague Hernando de Soto has so aptly said, "The hidden architecture of sustainable development is the law." The law. The law. The rule of law that permits wonderful things to happen. The rule of law that permits people to be free and to pursue their God-given destiny, and to reach and to search and to try harder for their country, for their family. The rule of law that attracts investment. The rule of law that makes investment safe. The rule of law that will make sure there is no corruption, that will make sure there is justice in a nation that is trying to develop.

The next stop on this long road is the World Summit in Johannesburg. The United States will be taking three very important messages to Johannesburg. First and foremost, we are totally committed to supporting sustainable development. President Bush left no doubt on this score in his March 14th speech at the Inter-American Development Bank when he stated on behalf of the American people that the advance of development is a central commitment of American foreign policy.

We will also carry the message that sustainable development must begin at home, with sound policies and good governance. Both official assistance and private capital are most effective when they go to governments that rule justly, invest in their people, and encourage economic freedom. Official assistance is important -- there's no doubt about it -- and that is why President Bush announced that his administration will seek congressional approval to increase America's core development assistance by 50 percent over the next three years, resulting in $5 billion annual increase over current levels. And I'm confident we will be able to sell it to our Congress.

I have been deeply moved in my 18 months as Secretary of State by the support Congress is giving to this kind of effort. We have some financial and fiscal problems that are on the table. That is always the case. But I have been getting solid support with real growth in my own foreign affairs budget, and now with the Millennium Challenge Account coming along, we will see a major increase in the funds that will be available for this kind of activity.

As Chairman Hubbard of the President's Council on Economic Advisors and Deputy AID Administrator Schieck explained earlier, these additional funds will be used for a special purpose within this Millennium Challenge Account. The new account will fund initiatives to help developing nations with sound policy environments. That means you put in place in these nations at home the right environment so that the money will go to the kind of infrastructure development that will set the stage for takeoff with respect to attracting trade and attracting additional funds of both a private and official nature.

A strong commitment to good governance, a strong commitment to the health and education of their people, and economic policies that foster enterprise and foster entrepreneurship. But as important as official assistance is to improving people's lives, the reality is that it is trade and private capital flows that will make the real difference that are more, more, much more significant.

Trade dwarfs aid. America alone buys $450 billion in goods from the developing world every year, some eight times the amount that developing countries receive in aid from all sources. Attracting that kind of private money isn't easy. Private capital is a coward, a chicken. It flees from corruption and bad policies. It doesn't want to go where there's a conflict. It doesn't want to go where there is corruption. It doesn't want to go where there is unpredictability. Private capital stays away from ignorance, disease and illiteracy, and it especially stays away from those places where it seems that no one is doing anything about ignorance, disease and illiteracy.

And now that we're breaking down trade barriers, now that the Cold War is over and the Iron Curtain, the Bamboo Curtain are all gone, relics of history, capital can go many places without restrictions. And it will go to those places that reflect the right kinds of policies. It will go where it is welcomed. It will go where investors can be confident of a return on the money they have put at risk, usually other people's money. It goes to countries where women can work, where children can read, and where entrepreneurs can dream.

But good policies alone are not enough. People must be able to seize the opportunity. So the third message we will take to Johannesburg is that governments, civil society and the private sector must work in partnership to mobilize development resources. We must work together to unleash human productivity, to reduce poverty, to promote healthy environments and foster this kind of sustainable growth. We've got to help young people get the skills they need, the education they need, the motivation they need to take part in a changing economy and a changing political environment in these countries as we move forward.

Partnerships are key, and we are already deploying the power of partnerships. For example, the United States and South Africa have initiated the Congo Basin Forest Partnership. This innovative partnership with NGOs, industry and other governments, will help slow and even reverse deforestation in the Congo Basin. The initiative will not only create national parks where none before existed, it will also ensure the livelihoods of those living in and around the forests and strengthen the ability of governments to enforce their forest conservation laws.

Our vision for Johannesburg is to build on these three messages: commitment, good policies, and partnerships. We will build on these three messages by inviting developed and developing nations to join us in opening economies and societies to growth. For growth, growth, growth is the key to raising people out of poverty.

We will also invite developed and developing nations to join us in providing freedom, security and hope for present and future generations while providing all our people with the opportunity to live healthy and productive lives. And recognizing that we have only one home, one home -- Planet Earth -- we will invite developed and developing nations to join us in serving as good stewards of our natural resources and our environment.

To this end, we will initially work for concrete action in seven areas that we believe are essential to sustainable development: health, energy, water, sustainable agriculture and rural development, education, oceans and coastal management, and forests. We will work to unite governments, the private sector and civil society in partnership to strengthen democratic institutions of governance, open markets, and mobilize and use all development resources more effectively.

We are already doing a great deal in all of these areas. The United States has provided half a billion dollars to the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. We've launched a $500 million Mother-Child HIV/AIDS Prevention Initiative for Africa and the Caribbean, doubled funds for the African Education Initiative for Training and Scholarships, and increased funding for agricultural development assistance programs by some 25 percent.

And in our budget request for Fiscal Year 2003, we have asked for $4.5 billion for climate spending, an increase of $700 million over this past year. This request includes funding for basic science, technology research and development, business and agricultural incentives and international activities. President Bush has also taken the lead in increasing the use of grants instead of loans for the poorest countries, especially in assistance from multilateral development banks. This approach, which was endorsed by the recent G-8 Summit, will complement existing initiatives to help alleviate the crushing burden of debt that faces so many highly indebted poor countries.

But in all of these areas, we can and must do more, especially I might highlight, HIV/AIDS, once again brought home to us by the meeting we have been watching on television for the last day or so.

So we have established the Global Development Alliance to combine the assets of government, business and civil society to work in partnership on implementing sustainable development programs. And that's where you come in. We need you -- governments, businesses, and the organizations of civil society -- to work in support of these pressing human needs, individually in your daily actions, and together in effective goal-oriented partnerships.

Sustainable development, as you all know better than I, is a marathon, not a sprint. It does not follow from a single event like the Johannesburg Summit, important as that meeting may be, but from a sustained global effort by many players working together over a long period of time. Sustainable development requires institutions, policies, people and effective partnerships to carry our common effort beyond Johannesburg and well into the future.

I hope you will come away from today's sessions with a deeper appreciation of our commitment to building a world where children can grow up free from hunger, disease, and illiteracy; a world where all men and women can reach their human potential, free from racial or gender discrimination; and a world where all people can enjoy the richness of a diverse and healthy planet.

I hope you will come away with a greater understanding of our partnership-based approach to improving the lives of men, women and children in developing countries. And most of all, I hope you will come away with an even stronger commitment to work together with us to help realize the promise of this new century and make it truly a century of hope, a century that will allow us to fulfill the dreams of all of God's children.

Thank you so very much.


Released on July 12, 2002

Is "sustainable development" something the American people should want? Read about it here to decide:

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Europe incorporates Sustainable Development Strategy

U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development Report

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Imperial Rule by Benevolent Council

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'Sustainability Community Plans', South Carolina style, includes preservation of everything except individual liberty

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The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America

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UN Millennium Declaration - "Mandate" for global governance

Portland votes to grow like Los Angeles

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A Sustainable World reprint from 1998

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