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Global development: Barack Obama’s agenda

Written by Simon Maxwell

This article calls for strong leadership from the new US Administration on the global development agenda. Amid fears that the USA, like other donors preoccupied with the global financial crisis, may become focused entirely on domestic problems and turn away from the development ‘project’. It restates the fact that development is mutually beneficial. This idea is not new and was central to the analysis of the Brandt Commission in the 1980s. The Commission had a vivid image of rich and poor countries on the same vessel: if the end containing developing countries were to sink, then inevitably the end containing developed countries would follow. Today, the link between foreign policy and development is widely recognised.

The previous administration has left President Obama something to build on in ideological and quantitative terms, with US support to development aid increasing so much in recent years.