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The Carter Center Global Development Initiative

Bridging the gap between the rich and poor of our world is the greatest challenge of our time. The Carter Center views development of the poorest nations as not only a moral concern, but also as imperative to achieving world peace.

From 1993-2006, the Center's Global Development Initiative promoted a new model of development based on three core principles:

  • Greater country ownership of development strategies
  • Increased participation of civil society in governance and policy-making
  • Effective international partnership and cooperation

The Initiative advanced the understanding that effectiveness of  international development cooperation is possible only under these conditions:

  • Sound policies are nationally owned,
  • People have the capacity to determine such policies,
  • Enabling resources are made available, and
  • The donor community effectively coordinates its support of a country's national strategy for development

The Need for a New Approach to Development
The end of the Cold War seemed to cause wealthy countries to lose interest in helping developing countries. Development assistance came to be offered with conditions countries could not meet or conditions that did not address these countries' priorities and needs.

Meanwhile, developing countries were taking a top-down approach to economic and social policies because they lacked many of the democratic institutions that permit citizens and citizens' groups to participate in public decisions and promote government accountability and transparency. These governments also often lacked the capacity to manage foreign aid coming from multiple sources, resulting in duplicated efforts, wasted resources, and inappropriate projects.

How the Global Development Initiative Worked
The principles of the Global Development Initiative were advanced through:

  • on-the-ground work in four partner countries — Albania, Guyana, Mali, and Mozambique and
  • high-level Development Cooperation Forums that draw lessons from country experiences, examining the impact that global forces and policies have on the development of poor countries.

In partner countries, the initiative assisted government, the private sector, civil society, and international donors in devising country-owned strategies for sustainable development and democracy.

The Initiative's Centerpiece: National Development Strategies
Recognizing that effective change cannot be promoted from outside a country, many developing countries and international development institutions have begun promoting the concept of a national development strategy. This approach outlines a broad vision for the transformation of a society and the essential policies, investments, and actions that need to be taken by the business community, government, nongovernmental organizations, and individual citizens to make it happen.

A national development strategy process strengthens democracy and respect for human rights by reinforcing democratic institutions and supporting a more participatory, cooperative, and demographically inclusive culture. When citizens play an active role in formulating their national strategy, they view their democratic institutions as having greater legitimacy. Read about Guyana's experience in drafting its National Development Strategy.

The Role of Development Cooperation Forums
During its tenure, the Global Development Initiative convened high-level Development Cooperation Forums. In these forums, leading thinkers and practitioners took stock of the current state of development cooperation, identified ways in which such cooperation can be promoted more effectively, and reflected on future challenges to these endeavors. The initiative's work with its partner countries served as a practical basis of discussion. Read Q&As with former Initiative Director Ed Cain on poverty reduction, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and achieving more equitable globalization

Dec. 9, 2005
Fourth Development Cooperation Forum: Achieving More Equitable Globalization
In the past decade, the Carter Center's Global Development Initiative (GDI) has assisted Albania, Mali, Guyana, and Mozambique in comprehensive planning for development. In December 2005, GDI hosted representatives of these partner countries and leading development policy experts for the 2005 Development Cooperation Forum, Achieving More Equitable Globalization. Convened by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Feb. 21 2002
Third Development Cooperation Forum: Human Security and the Future of Development Cooperation
Report of the Third Development Cooperation Forum: Human Security and the Future of Development Cooperation. Co-chaired by Jimmy Carter and Robert Rubin, Feb. 21-22, 2002 (PDF). 
June 6, 1996
Second Development Cooperation Forum: Toward a New Model of Development Cooperation
Toward a New Model of Development Cooperation: The National Development Strategy Process in Guyana - June 6, 1996. Chaired by President Carter and attended by the president, finance minister, and opposition leader of Guyana as well as development ministers, aid agency representatives, and leaders from the private sector and civil society, the 1996 forum reviewed the results of the initiative's efforts in Guyana to facilitate the participatory preparation of a National Development Strategy. Participants at the meetings called the Guyana effort a potential new model of development cooperation emphasizing the principles of ownership, participation, and international partnership. The Center was encouraged at the meeting to expand its country-based initiatives to Africa (PDF).

Dec. 4, 1992
First Development Cooperation Forum: The Conference for Global Development Cooperation
Chaired by President Carter and U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in a hopeful atmosphere for development following the end of the Cold War, the conference (held Dec. 4-5, 1992)examined specific and practical ways to improve development cooperation on an international scale. Following the conference, the Center convened an action-planning meeting of experts, donor officials, and country representatives that led to the establishment of the Global Development Initiative (PDF).

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