President Barack Obama, taking stock Wednesday of his efforts to boost living standards in developing countries, said he made global development a “fundamental pillar” of US foreign policy because it’s a good investment, and he urged his successor to continue to prioritize the issue.
Obama said funding development projects in spite of pressing needs in the US is worthwhile because it helps with security at home.
“Development isn’t charity. It’s one of the smartest investments we can make in our shared future and in our security,” he said while delivering the keynote address at a White House summit that was organized to review progress on global development during his presidency.
Obama said few people question the billions of dollars that are spent annually to keep the USmilitary in top fighting shape. He said he’s glad to be commander of the world’s best military, but that spending a fraction of that money on schools, clean water and health care in other countries means “we’re also going to be in a better position to protect our country and improve our country.”
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“And this is why, as president, I’ve elevated development as a key pillar of American foreign policy,” Obama said.
“So I may only have six months left in office, but I’m here to say that whoever the next president is, development has to remain a fundamental pillar of foreign policy and a key part of our work to lift up lives, not just overseas, but here in the United States,” he said.
“If you care about human dignity, if you care about reducing violence and terrorism, if you care about fighting climate change, if you care about addressing inequality and creating trade and prosperity that works for all and not just some, then you’re going to have to pay attention to development and you’re going to have to make an investment,” Obama told his successor.
Republicans on Tuesday nominated New York billionaire Donald Trump as their presidential candidate at the party’s convention in Cleveland. Former Obama Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to become the Democratic nominee when her party convenes next week in Philadelphia. Obama backs Clinton.
At the summit, which was held at a point in Obama’s presidency when he is looking to cement his legacy on an array of issues, the president highlighted administration programs that are making a difference.
A nutrition initiative has helped 9 million farmers from Bangladesh to Guatemala, boosting yields, reducing hunger and increasing incomes. Obama on Wednesday signed into law the Global Food Security Act, authorizing more than $7 billion to sustain the Feed the Future initiative and similar programs.
On global health, anti-malaria efforts have saved an estimated 6 million lives since 2000. And in the fight against AIDS and HIV, nearly four times as many people are receiving treatment than in 2009, Obama said.
He also highlighted US efforts to educate adolescent girls, and help young entrepreneurs and others around the world network and share ideas.