PrintPrint EmailEmail ShareShare CiteCite


A Conversation with Helen Clark

Speaker: Helen Clark, Administrator, United Nations Develpment Program
Presider: George Rupp, President and CEO, International Rescue Committee
April 16, 2013



GEORGE RUPP: I have the pleasure of welcoming all of you here for this Council on Foreign Relations meeting with Helen Clark, the administrator of UNDP, United Nations Development Program.

Housekeeping details to start with: Please turn off all electronic equipment, cellphones, et cetera, et cetera. You've all heard that plenty of times. I should also note that this meeting is on the record, so -- oh, well, thank you. (Laughter.) We take all -- any and all praise we can get, so I appreciate that.

You have a bio of Helen in your materials that you received. Let me just mention a few highlights which I'm sure don't need to be mentioned, but I feel constrained by someone so distinguished that I at least have to mention a few highlights.

As you -- she's been administrator of UNDP since 2009. Congratulations are in order because she was just named to a second term, and this is the first speaking engagement she will have as a second-term administrator of UNDP. So, congratulations.


RUPP: A congenial group we have here.

CLARK: Thank you.

RUPP: Before she was at UNDP, as we all know, she was the prime minister of New Zealand for three terms, 1999 to 2008. She was first elected to parliament once. She was just out of junior high school in 1981 -- (laughter) -- and she was re-elected for the 10th time in 2008 and then resigned in order to assume her responsibilities at the UNDP.

Before her service as prime minister, she led the ministries responsible for conservation, housing and then also health and labor, so very broad experience in the areas that international development is concerned to address.

Before that -- this kind of wrecks my junior high school line -- before that, she taught political science at the University of Oakland.

So I, at least, have had the pleasure of spending some time with this 2013 Human Development Report. I commend it to all of you. I was told you would be able to get it on your way in, and I think it really does merit careful reading. It's arresting not only because of its -- the fact that it's the Human Development Report in 2013 but kind of double subtitle: "The Rise of the South" and "Human Progress in a Diverse World." And those rubrics make the first question I'd like to ask you all the more apt. Why is this report being issued now? What is the purpose that you're wanting to achieve?

CLARK: Well, thank you, George, and good evening, everyone. In a sense, the report doesn't tell us anything new, but what it does is bring a lot of information together about the changing geopolitics and geoeconomics of our world. And I think it's timely because the changing economic -- geoeconomics have been really quite vital to keeping some sense of momentum in the world economy in a pretty weak spot. The global
financial crisis hit the traditional developed economies pretty hard.

Now, the fact that growth continued in much of the developing world has been extremely important in keeping some semblance of global demand. So our report, of course, ends on the note of saying that just as the south meets the north, the north meets the south. So the south is delivered on continuing growth, but actually if the north's economy was healthier, it would be better for the south as well. We are very independently linked.

Now, with the changing geoeconomics, with the rise of the emerging economies, of course there comes changing geopolitics because a lot of economic clout tends to go with the greater influence of power in the world, and so that leads us to reflect in the report on the governance of global institutions. And one has to say quite dispassionately that the construction of governance in the multilateral system increasingly looks a little odd when you look at what's happening with the emergence of new powers around the world based on economic strength and clout.

So again, it floats the issue of the Security Council reform, what's happening in the international financial institutions reform, and dare I say even in the U.N. funds and programs like our own. We don't have membership on our executive boards which represents the new arrangements of power in the world, if you like, and we have our membership weighted towards the traditional donor community. And at some point, there will have to be a conversation about that, because this growing economic strength is starting to express itself in different ways geopolitically.

RUPP: Well, let's pursue that for a minute. Take Security Council membership changes, how do you see -- it's clear that what we now have in the Security Council is not representative of the economic and political clout of the world as we see it. How do you envision that changing, both in terms of -- well, the direction is clear, but what about timeline?

CLARK: And it's easier to say it doesn't reflect the new reality than it is to come up with something that everybody will agree on. I come from a country which still constitutionally is a monarchy. And most people don't necessarily see a lot of sense in it, but agreeing on what the alternative is rather elusive. (Chuckles.)

So there's other deeper questions too, which was in 1945 the Security Council was designed with the veto for the permanent members and it was designed with permanent membership. When I was prime minister of a small country, we constantly reminded ourselves and anyone else who would listen to us that we hadn't agreed with the veto in 1945 and we didn't particularly agree with it being extended to new permanent members.

So these issues are very, very hard to resolve. And there was quite a head of steam up in the divide on Security Council reform back in the earlier years of this century. But in the end, there wasn't the basis for an agreement. Now, the question is, will it -- will it be tackled again? Not easy to see at the moment.

RUPP: Well, we live in a country that has a certain amount of sympathy with the endurance of arrangements that were made in founding times. (Laughter.) Those of us who live in -- those of us who live in New York and California and have two senators each and know that Rhode Island and many -- all states have two senators -- we all know that -- this history. We understand that, but it doesn't make us hugely supportive about it.

Say a little more about -- I mean, the rise of the -- of the south. It seems to be really a topic on which probably the people in this room -- about which you all know more than most of -- well, almost all of the population of this country and of the world. But it is striking that there has actually been progress over the last 10 years, in spite of what we read in the media. And maybe you could say just a little more about the definers of that progress.

CLARK: Yeah. Yeah. So you know, bad news sells. So we read a lot of bad news about what's happening around the world in developed and developing countries. So you know, maybe the images -- you know, what's happening across a swath of Africa, through west Africa or, you know, right through the center to Somalia, it doesn't make great reading. You get a lot of coverage, obviously, of the very complex and difficult transitions going on in the Arab states region.

But while a range of countries obviously are mired in tense and often very nasty conflicts, others have been getting on and showing progress. And what this report is looking at is the countries which have managed to combine economic progress with social progress. So it's economic progress which has also delivered human development progress. And it looks at what have been the drivers of this.

It looks at the quite pragmatic approach to economic policy -- pragmatic in the sense they haven't been afraid to run industry policy, which has boosted their industries. They haven't been afraid to open up to trade. They haven't been afraid to open up to investment. But they haven't been satisfied with economic growth alone. They've said: We've got to put this back into our people.

So they're investing back in their health, back in their education and, very importantly, generally in social protection systems -- what the U.S. and New Zealand we'd call Social Security systems, the family cash transfers, the measures which makes -- try to make sure that no one falls below a -- you know, a minimum standard of living.

Now, in Latin America the cash transfer is quite well-known. Brazil and Mexico, Argentina, Chile, a number of countries have been, you know, very forward leaning in putting a floor under the incomes of families. India has gone into this mess of national rural employment guarantee scheme, which offers to the rural poor, of whom there are a great many, a minimum 100 days work a year at a minimum rate of pay, and insists that there's a certain proportion for women -- in fact it's gone to pretty much equal gender participation, the scheme.

That scheme is now benefiting 46 million rural households. Multiply that by the average number of people in rural households, you can see it's a significant swath of India where there's a deliberate approach to lifting income, and probably for many people cash income for the first time. If you take China, huge concern now about the inequality in China because while China has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of the extreme poverty category -- the under $1.25 a day -- actually some have been lifted far further than others. So, yes, extreme poverty is down, but inequality is up. And in relatively recent times, the government of China has announced quite a big increase in the minimum wage to be phased in to try and deal with this issue of inequality.

So my point is, yes, these countries have experienced quite a lot of growth, but they've also been conscious of the need to bring their peoples' development up alongside those economic figures. And that's why this particular group of countries we look at stands out.

RUPP: Well, I have to say, as someone who has spent a lot of time in countries outside of the developed world, but in many of the countries that are under the greatest challenges in terms of conflict and political turmoil, I find it, I just have to say, arresting when your report indicates that there is no country for which we -- you have data in this report where the Human Development Index is not better now than 10 years ago.

I mean, that seems to me -- even for someone -- I consider myself fairly well-informed with what's going on in the developing world, but that's quite remarkable. And I think it -- we all need to make sure that message gets heard, because otherwise, in this country at least, there's a danger of despair. People think there's never really any improvement forthcoming.

CLARK: Yeah. And we read, for example, that there's almost a turn-off now of -- people don't want to hear another bad news story. They just think, oh, you know, things will never get better. What's the point of ODA? But the point to be made is actually, things are quite a lot better for quite a lot of people. Now, not everywhere. No country, you know, categorized as fragile -- a broad category -- quite a lot of countries -- none of those will achieve a single Millennium Development Goal.

So, you know, the focus in terms of the poorest is going back on the countries that are now bearing these terrible, enduring conflicts -- and that just don't seem to go away.

RUPP: Well, you're mentioning the Millennium Development Goals as one reason this report is very timely, because we all know that the question of, what will be the next phase of that whole project of reaching that Millennium Development Goals is going to be a challenge for the U.N., for the -- for the world community.

And because there are countries that haven't met any of the Millennium Development Goals -- again, the expression could be one of despair, and it really is critical to have these reports that make clear, there has actually been progress, and it is worth staying the course for a next iteration of Millennium Development Goals II or whatever becomes (goal ?).

CLARK: Yeah. So, I mean, there is unfinished business, obviously, from the MDGs. A lot of progress at the global level, but some countries haven't seen much of it at all. The U.N. has been, you know, facilitating very extensive conversations involving governments and civil society around the world on what the next Global Development Agenda should look like. I mean, more than 84 national consultations, about 11 big thematic consultations. There's social media, digital conversation and (surveying ?) going on.

And what is coming through is, don't give up on the MDGs. You know, even if the MDG target for 2015 on having the proportion of people living in extreme poverty is met, as it has been, that still leaves a billion people living on under $1.25 a day by 2015. So the job ain't done.

The other thing people are saying is that the development agenda needs to go beyond just counting things. Like, you know, we can say now that, you know, probably -- almost -- close to every child in the world is enrolled in school.

I mean, when I say "close to," there's probably still some 60 million children to get into school. But by the size of the child population, it's a pretty good effort. But how long do they stay in school? Do they complete their schooling? Do they actually learn anything while they're there?

So there's a feeling that, yes, access has expanded, but quality hasn't. In fact, arguably, the pressures to get access may have diminished quality. So people are starting to raise those issues. Don't just count things; tell us what the quality is behind those particular figures.

So yeah, there's a huge conversation going on about, what should be (gone ?) next. And I think what I take from it, and what I really take from the human development approach, which UNDP has been following since these first reports were issued in 1990, is that human development is absolutely vital (were it not for ?) people. But if we wreck the environment lifting living standards, we don't have much of a future either.

And so that consensus around Rio plus 20 -- that we have to try to simultaneously tackle lifting living standards, eradicating poverty, greater equity and environmental sustainability -- we have to see these things as linked, not as -- not as tradeoffs. You know, if you go hell for leather for growth but can't breathe the air in Beijing or other places, you know, how far ahead have you really got? So I think the next agenda is going to much more consciously have to interweave the environmental, the economic and the social strands of sustainable development.

RUPP: Well, that's a perfect segue into one of the categories in the report that I found really most intriguing, namely when you talk about global public goods. And you've just now talked about global public goods, but maybe you could say a little more about them and in particular how UNDP can foster them.

CLARK: Well, we -- the previous report that we did was on equity and sustainability, environmental sustainability. And the case we made was that we have to tackle these issues together. Otherwise, we're going to be missing the point.

The truth is that environmental degradation ends up impacting on the poorest the most. You know, think of the Sahel and the droughts. Think of the Horn of Africa and the droughts. Think of the devastating floods through Pakistan. Who's hurt? Poor people trying to earn living on the land where the climate just makes this absolutely impossible. And that particular report projected different -- well, had different projections of what could happen to the world if environmental degradation and inequity continued to increase. And it's not a good outlook, and you can project that, of a worst-case scenario, which you sometimes think could be the real scenario, that you --

RUPP: Some of us think the worst-case scenario IS the real scenario. (Chuckles.)

CLARK: Yeah. And this is the point: Human development progress actually grinds to a halt because the poorest people are so damaged by what's happening to the degradation of the environment.

RUPP: Global public goods -- what are the -- what is -- what's the short list? Obviously environmental sustainability is high on the list.

CLARK: Yeah. Huge. And 2015 is an important year, not only for the next global development agenda being elaborated -- which it should be, at a special summit in the spring of 2015 -- but the end of 2015 is the Climate Change Conference of Parties, which, it's agreed, should deliver the global climate agreement which will endeavor to keep global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

Now this is going to take some doing. So -- you know, to get agreement from where we are now to there. But we have to try, because we keep seeing the forecasts now from -- whether it's PricewaterhouseCoopers or the International Energy Agency, that the way the world's going at the moment, we're heading for a 6-degree rise, not a 2-degree rise.

Now if you look at the incredibly volatile climate we're now experiencing worldwide, on under a 2-degree Celsius rise, and think what would the world -- (chuckling) -- be like with 6 degrees, I'd put a -- not very pleasant. So 2015 is an incredibly important year. France has volunteered to host that conference of parties, and one can only hope that a great power like France, with its immense diplomatic skills, will be able to shepherd this towards an agreement.

But that -- that's the number one issue from our point of view. We see climate change as a huge barrier to development, a huge barrier, impacting the poorest the most, having a disproportionate impact on women, you know, blighting development prospects.

RUPP: You -- the report also mentions trade and migration as examples of global public goods.

CLARK: Yeah.

RUPP: But you think those are clearly less critical than global warming or climate change.

CLARK: I think the environmental limits issue is the -- is the huge issue. But migration was also the subject of a human development report the first year I came to this organization. And it -- the report sort of put a new -- a new perspective on it, because often people look at migration -- illegal flows, you know -- trouble. And the report took the view that, you know, migration, if properly organized, and if, you know, countries are prepared to offer routes for legal migration, can be a great benefit not just to the source country but to the receiving country as well. I think if we look at the aging demographics in most of the West, actually we're pretty reliant on migration and have been for some time.

Now what I've observed in my own country over time is it will get harder and harder to attract migrants with skills because intrinsically it's often more exciting to be living in a big city like Shanghai than in Auckland, New Zealand. And we're starting to see the reverse flow back now. Yes, people migrate for experience, perhaps for education, but they're going back to the country of origin. So I think in the West we're going to end up having a completely different debate about migration -- (chuckling) -- which is, how do we attract people, not how do we keep them out, which has been a lot of the predominant discourse of modern times.

RUPP: Well, as you know, I spent some time in universities, and I think it's very clear there were decades, long periods, when the most talented, let's say, East Asian or South Asian immigrants to this country, or students who came -- who came initially as students would stay and would contribute huge human capital to the country. And in the last 20 years, increasing numbers have gone back. I mean, it's -- so it's not at all obvious that we are having the ability to retain the attraction that we -- that we once had.

Another category that I found intriguing in the report is coherent pluralism, which -- it may be that I'm -- it's just a personal tic that I find that intriguing, but tell me a little bit about coherent pluralism.

CLARK: I'm not even that sure that I can define it. I'm going to call on Eva (sp), the Human Development Report -- (laughter) -- office deputy, to define coherent pluralism. I hate jargon. (Laughter.) Please, Eva (sp).

MS.: What the report -- (off mic).

RUPP: We're going to get a microphone. Sorry, I didn't meant to be -- (laughter). It is in the report.

CLARK: Get the -- get the oracle's view.

MS.: Yeah, no, it is in the report and somebody actually asked me the same question earlier today, so we may need --

CLARK: You practiced the answer.

MS.: Yeah, yes. (Chuckles.) We're talking -- I mean, we're seeing the multilateral system that many more regional and thematic organizations are propping up. And the idea is to see that we cannot prevent these organizations or we have to live with them and find a way whereby they actually talk to each other, so that we have an international system that is coherent, where different entities -- we have, for example, the Gates Foundation that has had huge impact on health in the world, and we just need to make sure that they work in some kind of -- synchronized with the world health organizations. So, it is to make sure that all the international partners -- be they intergovernmental or private or NGOs -- that there is some kind of dialogue among them so they don't challenge each other but actually work in some form of unison.

RUPP: Well, that's what I took the meaning of the section on coherent pluralism to mean And I was actually wanting to take that one step further and ask, you know, for your experience or your collective experience in how this works in the U.N., because one of the experiences that those of us who work with U.N. agencies have is that, let's say, the articulation among or integration of or even coordination among the various U.N. entities is, well, to put it gently, less than spectacular. (Laughter.)

And so I'd just be interested to see -- let me give a concrete example. When -- the first time I met with Mark Malloch Brown, when he was director of -- the administrator of UNDP, he was very excited to see me because he said, you know, one of the really classic problems we have here at the U.N. is that coordination between the emergency intervention that's often by UNHCR and then the emerging development phase just doesn't happen. This is a hand-off from one silo; it doesn't ever quite get done to the second silo.

So he said, well, the IRC, International Rescue Committee, can play a role there in being involved both with UNHCR and with UNDP. So, I took that as a challenge that I thought was really interesting. And we continue to be the largest implementing partner for UNHCR, but we really haven't gotten a lot -- I mean, we do development work but not really with UNDP.

So, I just wanted to see how -- what you see as the challenges there, how you think they might be more effectively addressed than has often been the case. Because we all like the idea of coherent pluralism, I just -- (chuckles). We have the pluralism. The coherence is what I'm looking -- (laughter).

CLARK: Well, before answering that, I'll take Eva's (sp) example a step further. I mean, one of the big debates around U.N. circles, particularly from the 173 countries, is how the U.N. should relate to the G-20, which is another case, if you like, of more informal multilateralism and clearly is a very important meeting because when you get the leaders of 20 of the most significant economies together, they're going to make decisions which will impact on everyone else. So, there's always been an issue of how do you sort of get into connections between the dialogue that's going on at the G-20 and the -- and the discourse in the U.N. itself.

And to be -- to be fair to the G-20, there's growing now a practice of quite extensive interaction with the U.N., with the G-20 host country for the year sending its sherpas across to talk, to interact; often quite senior briefings at the -- at the General Assembly. I've just this afternoon been in a meeting where the Russian sherpa came to see the secretary-general to discuss how they could be helpful on the development and MDG agenda. So you know, there's a lot of informal linkages going on there. And they're wanting to be hopeful and line up with the -- with the same agenda.

But going to alignment within the U.N. system -- (chuckles) -- well, because the point is this loss of subsystems in the U.N. -- when I first came, I cheerfully agreed with Josette Sheeran of the World Food Program that we should update our memorandum of understanding. And I remember, she came across me in New York and we had a little signing ceremony. And as I was waiting for Josette to arrive, I said to my people, oh, this is good, a new updated memorandum of the World Food Program. And they said, you've got to realize we're different tribes. I said what are you talking about? (Scattered laughter.) They said, well, humanitarian development, they're different tribes. I mean -- (chuckles) -- I said, this is ridiculous.

So what I've been working for and Valerie Amos, the emergency relief coordinator, the same, is to get the tribes talking and to realize that we're talking about a spectrum of activity here that at some point, humanitarians want to hand over. So development had better be ready. And in fact, there's a spice that UNDP can contribute to, and does, which is called early recovery, which in a sense, is the bridge out of humanitarian and into the development phase. And you can't wait until the humanitarian relief phase is over before you do that. Earlier recovery has to be built into the response to a crisis, and then the countries are better equipped to move onto development.

And to give a practical example of that, when you have a very, very severe event -- it might be the severe snows in Mongolia which killed a lot of the livestock so people have no income, it might be the earthquake in Haiti, part of the our, you know, sort of tools of the trade is to go in with temporary work schemes, which put people to work, generate some money. And the local economy can go around, people can buy from the trader and you start the process of, you know, people buying and selling and living again.

So yeah -- that coordination through that spectrum's incredibly important. I might say that early recovery is the most difficult thing to raise money for, because a lot of donors have a window for humanitarian and they have a window for development. But early recovery, they -- doesn't sort of fit into the funding formulas. And yet, it's so vital because if all the focus has gone onto relief without thinking of, well, what's going to be the steps back to self-reliance for communities, families, country, then when humanitarians exit, what's there?

So one of the early recovery initiatives we're pursuing at the moment is in Jordan. I've just come from Jordan last Thursday morning. And Jordan now, every night, is seeing 1,500 to 2,000 Syrian refugees come over the border. That's a very distressing situation. And they're dispersing largely into communities. For sure, some are going to the UNHCR camp, but most aren't. You know, they're going into communities where the children want to be in school, the people have health needs, there's not enough jobs, water's stressed and the energy supply isn't great. And the Jordanian host community is now -- (laughs) -- sinking under the weight as well. And so we're looking at what initiatives we can do, partnering with others, on economic regeneration for host communities to try and create jobs and livelihoods and help lift the burden. It's a classic.

RUPP: Well, and I've just come back from Jordan as well, and we can compare notes. But we are now going to broaden this conversation out to include all of you for your questions and comments. When -- if you have a question or a comment, when I call on you, then stand, wait until you get a microphone, say your name and identifier and pose your question, preferably a single question, rather than a long statement. And then we'll have a chance to involve all of us in the conversation. I remind you again that this conversation is on the record.

Thank you very much for that initial exchange. Now, we'll see where we go from here.

Yes. Did you plan a question there in the front row with your colleague?

QUESTIONER: No, no. (Scattered laughter.) Miss Clark, Henry Breed from the -- from the Secretariat.

As you know, Ambassador Tanin is going to resume this week the negotiations precisely on Security Council reform. From your standpoint, what advice would you give him, what thoughts, what suggestions? And what might he best pursue right now?

CLARK: Well, I have my own views on it, which -- (chuckles) -- (inaudible) -- UNDP views. Firstly, I think the reform has to look for something flexible enough that we don't end up in the same position in 20, 30 years time. Because with 1945, we've been locked into that formula -- you mentioned your own constitution, of course -- (laughs) -- which is locked in for rather -- for rather longer. But is there a way of having a reform which has a -- you know, the flexibility to relook at things, to re-examine things over time so that we don't end up with a new permanent membership that then doesn't look like the world in 2040, 2050? You could do it around permanent memberships for regions. And then regions would sort -- would maybe have the permanent seats and work out what they do with them. I think the big issue is the issue of a veto. I mean, the veto is paralyzing the Security Council now, think no further than Syria. If the veto were expanded to another 10 permanent members, eight permanent members, five permanent members, would a decision ever be made?

So I think this is very problematic. Now, the issue in the past has been that the obvious candidates for new permanent membership -- and there are obvious candidates -- are saying, well, why should we accept a second-rate membership which doesn't have a veto? But I imagine that those who have the veto are unlikely to volunteer it as a bargaining chip in these sets of negotiations. So I wish the ambassador well, because I think these are -- (laughter) -- extremely difficult -- extremely difficult challenges.

RUPP: OK. Yes, back there.

QUESTIONER: Hi. My name is Contessa Bourbon from The New York Times. I'd like to ask Ms. Clark, how are your work programs progressing in Somalia and other parts of Africa, especially for women and youth? What programs in terms of employment?

CLARK: Well, Somalia's a special case, in that it's a country -- well, A, where parts of you can work as you would in many least-developed countries, like Somaliland and Puntland, which relatively speaking are more stable. But the center and south are a different story, where you need to be working at the much more basic level of trying to regenerate economic activity. It's more in the early recovery mode and working to build the capacity of a government, which has not had a very big reach, obviously.

And there's some quite positive stories written about Mogadishu now, but you no sooner see a positive story than you read of a tragedy. And yesterday, the tragedy was that the court was bombed and a lot of people were killed. And one of the areas we've been engaged in is precisely the justice sector and trying to build its capacity to process cases.

But in general, what I say of our capacity to support employment and economic empowerment, is that we can, of course, do projects which show by example that there are ways of generating livelihoods, but really what needs to happen then is countries need to pick these up and mainstream them into their policy.

I'll give -- I'll give you an example. I go to Ivory Coast late last year, which is a country attempting to recover from a series of devastating events over a period of time -- civil war, contested elections, huge violence and so on. And I go out to a sort of fishing village on the edge of Abidjan, where we had been supported by Norway and Ireland in a youth fishing cooperative.

And it was a great project. The young people had been able to buy bigger boats, invest in a freezer to put the fish in -- you know, really build this fishing co-op, which involved not just youth but also women and other members of the community. So the first question that the local media asked is: Will UNDP do more of these kinds of projects?

So I said, look, UNDP cannot come up with projects which will employ every unemployed person or youth in Ivory Coast. But what we've shown here is proof of concept. This works. If you can mainstream into the government policy for economic development and employment the concept that some seed finance for cooperatives like this will get people up and going, we would really feel happy.

We know this project worked, but we would now like to see it shifted to the policy level where it can be mainstreamed, budgeted for and so on. So that's the way we're thinking, that our impact is not through a series of little things. Our impact is in the advocacy. We can have, in countries, policies and the kind of inclusive growth strategies that they -- that they pursue.

You know, Africa is again attracting a lot of interest because of its economic growth. Africa, over the last two three years, generally being the world's second-fastest growing region most years. But Africa, for that growth, is not getting the poverty reduction which Asia got at similar levels of its development because the growth has been coming off, essentially, extractive industries, for the most part.

And to get poverty down, you have to find ways of getting domestic revenue of those industries and investing back into the virtuous cycle of development -- the infrastructure, the education, the health systems, the social protection and so on. So we're very much in the business of advocating for the kind of inclusive strategies which will deliver that sort of growth, and showing by example what could be done with innovative programs that need to go to scale, not just one here, one there, but a whole approach that will empower communities, cooperatives, small-holder agriculture, whatever.

RUPP: Well, it's hard, when you mention Ivory Coast, the Cote d'Ivoire, not to realize that as much as we celebrate and this report celebrates the improvements in the human development index, that those of us who go to Ivory Coast now and remember that it was once the most prosperous country in West Africa and a beacon for surrounding countries, until it wound up torn in the vortex of these civil conflicts -- well, sorry.


QUESTIONER: I'm Larry Bridwell and I teach international business at Pace University. And I am very intrigued by this coherent pluralism and what -- from an organizational management viewpoint. And I'd like to ask a question in terms of the human development index. That the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a very influential, powerful organization. And as an academic, I read an article several years ago that why is it two people, Bill and Melinda Gates, now have more resources to spend than the World Health Organization, the United Nations?

So I think this, you know, raises an issue, how does the United Nations work with these two individuals? But on a broader sense, since you have this broad political background that you've displayed today, what do you see as the future of how the U.N. works with obviously two talented people who have a lot of money, Bill and Melinda Gates, and similar organizations around the world?

ADM. CLARK: Well, I think the really positive thing is that Bill and Melinda Gates and people like them want to engage. Right? I mean, they're putting a lot of money into very important things, but I think they're very aware that the money they put into important things on its own isn't going to solve the problem. They need to be making the linkages.

And my own organization has had a constructive relationship with them. They paid, for example, for the Human Development report we did on food security in Africa. They contributed to that. So they really, you know, helped provide the resources which would enable us to put out an intelligent, thought-provoking report with recommendations on how African countries could improve their food security. They've certainly been collaborative with the Global Fund on HIV, AIDS, TB and malaria.

So I think the key thing is for the willingness to go both ways, to collaborate. You're right, the very, very substantial resources in these megafoundations, at a time when WHO is struggling -- struggling for money.

But providing, you know, we're all prepared to partner and see the complementarity between what we can do, it can work out OK.

RUPP: OK. Well, let's -- back in the back.

QUESTIONER: Hello. My name is Bakarry Pace (ph). I'm an undergraduate at Morehouse College. I had a conversation earlier, in the reception, with an NYU professor, and we were discussing what are the tools that the UNDP has for balancing the MDGs with sustainability protocols in terms of influencing the private sector to take those type of initiatives. And also, what is the role of undergraduates in advancing that agenda as the, I guess, metaphorical torch is being passed from Gro Harlem Brundtland and Maurice Strong to our generation?

CLARK: Well, one of the interesting things happening in development is the engagement of the global private sector. I'm not saying the entire private sector of the world are thinking this way, but there are, you know, in the leadership of a lot of the global corporations people who are interested in being part of the conversations around post-2015, Rio plus 20, sustainable energy for all, and so on.

And I think the truth is that the sort of breakthroughs that a lot of developing countries are looking to make with their infrastructure, for example, to enable them to, you know, grow and develop, the private sector partnerships are going to be quite an important part of that. You know, development these days isn't like it was when, you know, my own little country was developing, which was quite a different model from the USA.

The USA developed by private capital. New Zealand was a rather poor colony that didn't attract people with much money. So the state developed. The state borrowed the money. The state built everything. Even through to the 1980s, the state still owned a huge proportion of the New Zealand economy. But that isn't a model that will go anywhere these days.

So a lot of poor countries are not very bankable, can't borrow a lot of money. But, you know, with partnerships constructed the right way, the private sector could be in on power supply, on rail, road, ports, whatever. Now, where we tend to come into that is, you know, obviously to support governments to get a good deal. (Chuckles.) But I think the energy challenge is one that definitely, definitely needs private capital involvement. And the Secretary-General put together his Sustainable Energy For All Initiative deliberately as a partnership between the multilateral organizations like my own, World Bank, UNIDO, UNEP and the private sector.

Now, the problem is -- and this is a very interesting conversation we had at a G20 finance ministers' meeting I was at, hosted by Russia a few -- a few weeks ago -- there's a lot of investment finance out there looking for a home. But the countries which desperately need investment are often not the best place to attract it because of serious issues in governance. You know, think corruption. Think inadequate regulatory and policy environments, et cetera.

So before the private sector gets involved, or as it gets involved, the organizations like my own, which work on governance, capacity-building, regulatory environments need to be -- need to be very, very engaged. So in summary, there's no shortage of interest in the private sector, but it's looking for where it's not going to automatically lose everything through investing.

Secondly, on the -- on the sustainability agenda, you know, Rio plus 20 will attract businesses which are, you know, really energized and excited by sustainability. And I've worked with such, you know, companies in my own country. You know, there's some wonderful advocates. And not just (Greenwash ?), right? I know about -- not just that. Companies that really worked very hard to build sustainability into their model.

The challenge is for this to become, you know, much more universal than it is at the moment so that the way in which we produce goods and services has sustainability built into the design. But, you know, there is quite a lot of good will out there that can be tapped. And maybe your generation will be part of the next set of tapping and leadership on that.

RUPP: Yes, yes.

QUESTIONER: Well, congratulations on your second term.

CLARK: Thank you.

QUESTIONER: I'm Cora Weiss. Can you talk about the coherence of women? What -- UNIFEM used to be a part of UNDP, and now it's -- the umbilical cord has been cut, and it's on its own with other women's agencies at the U.N. But what role does -- do women play in development, and what role does UNDP play with women?

CLARK: So UNIFEM was an associated program of UNDP until the creation of U.N. Women. Well, often when I'm asked, is there a silver bullet strategy developed for development -- you know, is there a breakthrough strategy, you say, yes. It's the empowerment of women and girls, right?

I mean, if women and girls enjoyed access to the same opportunity and status and rights as men around the world, the world would be a different place. So that's the fundamental. The most powerful investment, I think, you can make in development is investment in women and girls -- opportunity, education.

And the fact that some of the MDGs, like reducing maternal mortality, have not seen a lot of progress comes back to this issue of unequal rights, status, opportunity, choice, voice et cetera. You know, simple example. Ghana has declared the maternal mortality rates a national emergency. And so an MDG acceleration action plan has been devised -- UNDP, U.N agencies in general have been in on it -- governments, stakeholders, civil society. And you can -- you can single out things that can be done immediately that will be helpful. For example, free access to services for pregnant women -- women giving birth. Free transport to the services when you're about to have your baby.

But the highest rate of maternal mortality in Ghana is found in the 12 to 15 age group. That is terrible. And it's -- (inaudible) -- of a woman dying in childbirth, a child dying in childbirth. So unless we address these basic issues of rights, of a child's right to have a childhood, not to be forced into a marriage and pregnancy at 12 years of age, we don't get anything. So, you know, my passion is to really give women and girls the chance to finish their schooling, make their own choice about their life, have access to sexual and reproductive health services.

The surveys we do in many poor countries indicate that there's at least 30 percent un-met demands for these services. People cannot get the services they want to have to have a choice over their lives. So, you know, we are advocates for this. We work on gender empowerment; we work on boosting the political participation of women.

I've just been in Jordan where they do have a quota for women's participation in parliament -- 10 percent are met with such wonderful, articulate women in Jordan. I said, don't put up with 10 percent. You know, many countries set a quota for at least 30 percent. Aim high.

A woman there told me that she was having a terrible battle trying to get the chamber of commerce that she was in to adopt a gender-equity quota. And a lot of our sisters are really struggling out there. So we have to get them behind and support as we do the civil society movements, the women parliamentarians who are trying to bring about change. We identify political empowerment as important because it brings women's voices in and gets issues up the priority list, economic empowerment. And for that, you know, women need to be able to own land and property. They need to be able to inherit; they need to be able to own bank accounts; they need to be able to get credit. A lot of those things are not available to women in many parts of the world.

In Botswana, women went to court and got a customary law overturned which had stopped them inheriting. Good on them. They used the law to do that.

In our Africa Human Development Report, it focused on the fact that women in agriculture in Africa are far less productive than men -- not because they don't work as hard. They work very hard. But they can't own the land, they don't security of tenure, they can't borrow the money, they can't inherit -- you know, we have to fix these things to give women a chance. So across these areas, legal status and rights, equal opportunity, economic empowerment, political voice and participation -- you can make a huge different to development if you tick all these boxes.

RUPP: Well, the -- I can just say as -- International Rescue Committee works in 40 countries around the world, and I agree completely that the single-most effective investment is in the empowerment of women, because it not only benefits women but their families and the next generation goes to school, in ways that otherwise wouldn't be the case. So thank you for that response.


QUESTIONER: Thank you for being here today and for the work you've been doing, and I'm trilled that you will be doing it for another four years.

RUPP: (Inaudible.)

QUESTIONER: My name is Bill Abrams. I'm with an organization called Trickle Up, which is an NGO. And our focus is on the ultra-poor, people living not at a $1.25-a-day level but 75 cents and below, and who are disproportionately female, rural, on and on, you would know them, populations. So my questions is, does that bottom-half of the bottom billion get the attention it needs or the attention it deserves in the development agenda overall?

CLARK: Probably rendered a bit invisible by the $1.25 focus, isn't it? But you're right. I mean, there's plenty of people under $1.25. And there's actually a broader point to make about invisibility. What's come through a lot in the consultations on this next development agenda is groups saying that, you know, we're hidden behind the figures, and we represent the disabled community. You know, we're not visible in these figures and yet we're not seeing progress. Women, of course, tend to be a little invisible if you don't disaggregate your figures on progress. Indigenous people, minorities generally, more likely to be found in this sort of half of the bottom half as you're saying. So, you know, all power to you for advocating for the very -- the very, very poorest.

And I think with the very, very poorest, these issues I'm raising about the effects of ecosystem degradation, the ability to get a living out of extremely climate-stressed land, is a huge issue.

RUPP: OK. Well, yes. I'm afraid we'll have to make this the last question. And I apologize to others of you who I know still have questions.

QUESTIONER: Father Andrew from the St. Paul's Foundation. I just had a question. I heard a lot about strengthening civil society, getting engaged at the grass-roots level. I wonder, perhaps, why it is that the U.N, doesn't partner with the Church. You know, the Orthodox and Catholic churches together are 1.7 billion people, and we distribute about $600 billion a year. It seems like, you know, more cooperation would be fruitful, because we are at that level. What do you think the barriers to that are?

CLARK: I don't think there's -- I don't think there's barriers. I think, you know, the -- I mean, the big multilateral organizations are having to learn a lot about partnerships. And there's no reason why the faith-based organizations should be excluded from those partnerships. I know my colleague, Thoraya Obaid, when she was at the U.N. population fund, reached out to faith leaders to talk about the issues -- issues like, you know, the child marriage -- the early marriage, the -- you know, the access to sexual and reproductive health services. She figured that, you know, faith leaders have enormous influence in communities.

And so, you know, you must have a dialogue; you must engage. Now, the same, I guess, with the -- with the organizations of the churches, that there is room for practical partnerships at the -- at the community and other levels around development, and certainly around humanitarian affairs, so -- (inaudible).

RUPP: Well, I -- we -- but when you mentioned reproductive health and we also start to reach a stretch goal in terms of coherent pluralism. But we can -- (laughter) -- work with that question.

QUESTIONER: I was thinking more in terms of education, and sort of empowerment and economic -- (inaudible) -- aren't going to agree on certain things, but let's find the things that we can.

RUPP: Right. And I think the answer, clearly, was that there's openness to doing that in areas where it is possible to have cooperation and collaboration with the goal of coherent pluralism.

Well, I thank all of you very much for coming, and we thank you for being with us.

Thank you.

More on This Topic