The White House Summit on Global Development: Reflecting on Real Progress

Josephine Kulea (Kenya) and audience members listen as President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) town hall in Washington, D.C., July 28, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Josephine Kulea (Kenya) and audience members listen as President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) town hall in Washington, D.C., July 28, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“Together, we can collaborate in ways unimaginable just a few years ago. Together, we can realize the future that none of us can achieve alone. Together, we can deliver historic leaps in development. We can do this. But only if we move forward with the seriousness and sense of common purpose that this moment demands.”

President Obama, September 22, 2010

The final months of the Administration are a time for reflection — not just on policy reforms and the debates that underpin our own democratic society, but on the change we hope to see continue in the future. We’ve made real progress over the last eight years, progress that has translated to meaningful impact in the lives of millions around the world. As Americans, we should feel proud that our investments — which constitute less than one percent of our overall budget — in programs that improve the health, resilience, and inclusive growth opportunities for communities around the world are yielding results that see lasting returns. 

Since the very beginning of the Administration, President Obama has defined development as an investment in the future for shared progress and prosperity. And through initiatives like Feed the Future and Power Africa, we — a host of U.S. government agencies — have catalyzed change. We are at the edge of history — and have a big opportunity to be the generation that ends HIV/AIDs, global hunger, and extreme poverty. And we cannot — and have not — made this progress alone. 

Through engagement from a range of partners in the private sector, academic institutions, and non-governmental organizations, we’ve reached millions of children with nutrition interventions that mean they stand a better chance to grow, learn, and participate in — and benefit from — a global economy as adults. We have responded to dozens of environmental disasters while promoting stability in recovery. And we have supported reforms needed to enable resilient, democratic societies. 

To recognize this progress and ensure it continues, on July 20, 2016, President Obama will host the White House Summit on Global Development. An opportunity for development leaders, public and private sector partners, civil society, diplomats, and entrepreneurs to celebrate shared contributions that have led to dramatic progress in global health, energy, food security, good governance, partnership, and youth engagement  

It is also a time to honor the real lives around the world who make it possible to deliver real outcomes. These include heroes like Ms. Maha, a principal of a school in Jordan, who opens the doors of her already overcrowded school to Syrian girls hoping to continue their education. And Monjuara, a mother in Bangladesh who took part in nutrition and agriculture trainings sponsored by the U.S. Government, improved her family’s health and income, and now is passing on what she learned to others in her community.

Inspired by Ms. Maha, Monjuara, and countless others, our work does not stop. For the one billion people still confront hunger and poverty around the world, we can and must to do better. Our progress must continue beyond this Administration so that the next generation of leaders and communities around the world can continue to build a path out of poverty and contribute to global prosperity, stability and progress.