Second Panel Discussion Questions and Answers

Second Panel Discussion Questions and Answers


It is painfully clear that access to technology in the third world as well as in the United States is essentially a human resource issue. What is the mission of educating and training have nots here and abroad for a technology-driven future?

This is complemented by a question that points out that a 25-year old central research program which linked United States and developing country scientists has been eliminated. What is the importance of scientific literacy in the developing world?


It is obvious that in addition to some of the things I mentioned in my opening remarks that we have got to emphasize education as a cross-cutting issue in the development process. If we are going to sustain development, we must have productive people whose imagination can be tapped to handle and solve these problems.

Because of budget cuts, we unfortunately have had to reduce our research budget by 40 percent (as some people in this audience painfully know). We do not have enough money, and I agree with Peter's assessment of it. Partially it is our fault. However, we have been paying the bill for 12 years of overspending. We are trying to reduce the deficit in a responsible way. The budget cuts that I am talking about that may be coming down the road in the future are not responsible cuts in my view. There is not even a question of whether or not we will decide what priorities we have within the development business. If the budget cuts that are being speculated about in the budget committees come to fruition, we simply will not have a development program.


A next set of questions has to do with the emphasis on population. Overpopulation contributes some of the problems that you list, such as environmental, and climate change issues. Yet the solutions USAID is working on are all designed to keep that population alive and growing. Is there a conflict here?


No, there is not a conflict. Our population stabilization program is one of the most comprehensive in the world. We provide 43 percent of all of the family planning services that are provided in the world, but we look at health and child mortality issues as part of a population stabilization effort. The relationship of maternal health care and even something as remote as the Micro-Enterprise Initiative we are in: We are trying to engage women in economic endeavors; this will have an impact on population stabilization. I think we have estimated that over $1.2 billion of our approximately $2 billion of development assistance is going to the program for action that was approved in Cairo.


To pick up on that would you like to talk about the role of science and technology for the empowerment of women in developing countries and the potential benefits that grow from that?


About 600 million people in the world are malnourished, and about twice that many are living in absolute poverty. In general, the women in those societies have to spend all their time getting firewood or water and then coming back to unhealthy surroundings, and the same is true of all the children. Basically, the lack of empowerment of women in about a quarter of the world's population and their marginal empowerment in most of the rest of the world is wrong for the same reason that discrimination is wrong in the United States.

It is not only morally and ethically wrong, but it denies the world the ability to gain the strength and the intellectual contributions of the people who are involved.

Our world can really succeed only if every segment of the society participates in its success. By operating in a way that does not empower such a large proportion of the world's women, we are basically denying ourselves the wonderful abilities that they would bring to the problems of scientific and general development that we are talking about here. The preservation of biodiversity or anything else worthwhile will be carried out only if social justice becomes a world characteristic along with the other aspects of global sustainability that we have been talking about.


Peter, in a world where we are not sure whether there are 10 million or 100 million species, are there approaches to quantifying such notions as minimal or critical? Are there ways of making choices? How do we get beyond more is better in promoting this obvious good? How do we advise governments? How much should we spend on this, and what do we expect developing countries to contribute?


Swinging back to the education question for a minute, I want to cite the example of Costa Rica and the Costa Rican government in general, where Dan Janzen and many others have played important roles. If governments will regard their own natural resources properly as their stock in trade as well as study and conserve them, then they will benefit from them economically, and the problem will be solved. The proper utilization of biodiversity can be attained only in a context of global sustainability overall. There is no such thing as preserving organisms separate from creating a stable and sustainable world. If we can help to create the kinds of institutions in each country in the world that operate for their own benefit and for the benefit of the people of that country, then the problem will be solved. I agree with part of the intention of the question, I think, which is that the precise definition of the contours of biodiversity, while very interesting, informative, and worthwhile, are not and will never be the driving forces of conservation or proper management.


In the early 60s we undertook a major developmental effort in the developing world. It was based on the premise of take-off. Growth would emerge and prosper by an infusion of aid. It did not happen then, and why do we assume it is going to happen now?


I think we have a unique opportunity. First, I think everyone has to be humble enough to understand that we have learned a lot about the development process over the last 48 years since we have been engaged in this. First, I think it is clear that all of the things that we are talking about are interrelated. We have tried in this Administration to define what we call sustainable development. It not only includes the environmental definition of that phrase and that part of it which involves population stabilization it also includes the notion that we have to treat poverty at its root causes.

We have to deal with governmental institutions to assure that they are strong enough to sustain growth. We have to make sure that we are allowing people to participate in the development process, and we have to take a more strategic approach to development. Unfortunately, there were many investments that were undertaken before that caused people in the industrial world to be very cynical about whether or not development could be successful.

There have also been tremendous successes in Asia, Latin America, and parts of Africa. We have reduced infant mortality and done a lot of things that have more successfully treated the functional issues the globe faces right now.

We did use our USAID programs to battle the Cold War that was part of what we did. We invested more money in four nations in Africa Somalia, Sudan, Liberia, and Angola for Cold War considerations than for development considerations. We no longer have that problem.

We are now better able to invest in partnerships that work to achieve development results. We are also seeing the end of the ideological debate within the developing world. There is now enough of a consensus for us to work on market economies and democratic government principles. So we feel that the chances for achieving results are better now than ever before. The question is whether or not the developed world will have the resources to do this job.


Dr. Raven, you gave a defense of why we should do something in developmental assistance. I think a lot of frustration is over what we should do. Should we continue to fund USAID s current efforts? What type of changes should be made in the way the United States provides assistance?


I think that building and encouraging the formation of comprehensive institutions stocked with trained people who operate in the benefit of the countries involved is the single most important component of USAID overall. The continuing emphasis of our USAID programs on training certainly feed into that. When institutions are operating in countries in ways that can be seen and accepted as being clearly a national benefit to those countries, then trained people will really have places to work and will be supported.


How can we not have enough money when we are spending so much money in our military budget?


Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to the World Resources Institute Board. Ambassador Blake (who is in the audience) was there, and Robert McNamara, and others. I explained how difficult it was to be the administrator of USAID today. We have been trying to responsibly manage budget reductions over the last few years. We have reformed the agency, cut some 1,200 people, and announced the closure of 27 of our missions overseas.

I think the choices were responsible ones. They reflect the reality of the post-Cold War world wherein capital flows to enable some countries to continue the development process without grant assistance. They also reflect our desire not to be working with governments that do not allow their own people to participate and are not as concerned about development as we are.

I told the board You know, when we looked at all of the priorities especially in the science and technology and research area we had, because of certain items that were exempt from reductions, to cut our research budget by 40 percent. That made the university community very angry with USAID. It has made people who care about agricultural research angry. Being administrator today puts us in the position of seeking praise and applause when you only cut the agricultural research facilities by 32 percent as opposed to the normal 40 percent! Whereupon, Robert McNamara burst out in applause; it is something I will always remember.


USAID by definition deals only with the less developed of developing countries, and actually there are many forms of international development assistance: People-to-people contacts, university contacts, government contacts, stimulation by the MacArthur Foundation, joint grants funded by the National Science Foundation or the National Institutes of Health, and so forth.

I think the most essential item is for Americans to spend a great deal more time thinking about four-fifths of the people in the world who live in developing countries, dealing with them, and finding creative ways to support them in their efforts to develop.


With respect to the current actions of the optimists on Capitol Hill, what do you view are the driving forces? In particular, to what extent is it special interests and to what extent misguided environmentalism?


While some people on Capitol Hill (particularly the newcomers) are motivated by ideology, others are motivated by a not-very-well-defined sense of isolationism. America First , they call it. They protest that it is not isolationism. Some of us are old enough to remember when that phrase was used by the isolationists between the wars.

Nonetheless, they are also very strongly pressured by the need to show that the budget can be balanced by the year 2002. The problem is that the President proposed an international affairs budget that is receding by two percent over the next five years and a defense budget that is receding by .3 percent over the next five years. The nondiscretionary items in the budget social security, interest on the debt, etc. are dramatically growing beyond control.

So, if you think you want to increase the defense budget, and you want to give people a very large tax break, and you look at the budget as it exists, what do you do? I suppose you cut the international affairs budget even further, but you get pennies in reaction to that cut. I have tried to make the argument that there are two ways to balance the budget by the year v2002.

One way is to cut government spending, but you do not get very far that way if you are going to leave these nondiscretionary items untouched. The other way is to invest in the world economy in particular, to invest in our export sector, which is now only ten percent of our gross national product, but it has doubled in the last ten years. If you do that and you are only able to increase by only one percent in economic growth over the next five years, the Congressional Budget Office projects we have American revenues totalling $100 billion under the current tax code.

I was accused of being a supply-sider when I made that argument the other day, but I think it is still a legitimate one. We have got to invest in our future economic growth, and we cannot do that in a global economy unless we remain engaged.


Thank you. I would like to thank Peter and Brian for wonderful introductory remarks and for responding to a wide range of complicated questions. There are still many more unanswered questions and I hope that the questioners will find you during the break. We certainly have a great deal to talk about and many provocative issues on the table. Thank you very much.

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Forum - Session One

Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

Jessica Tuchman Mathews Introduction

President, Carnegie Corporation of New York

Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs

David Hamburg Introduction

First Panel Discussion Questions and Answers

Adele Simmons

Adele Simmons Introduction

Administrator, United States Agency for International Development

Director, Missouri Botanical Gardens

Peter Raven Introduction

Second Panel Discussion Questions and Answers

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