Development Is a National Security Priority

As National Security Advisor, I start each day with a briefing that covers the most sobering threats and difficult problems we confront around the world -- everything from political instability and a more diffuse terrorist threat to climate change, outbreaks of infectious disease, and cyber-attacks. These are complex and interconnected challenges, and few, if any, have clear or easy answers. That's why, to meet global threats and lead the world in seizing the opportunities of our time, we are drawing on all the tools of American power -- including our commitment to advancing sustainable development.

From the first days of this Administration, President Obama has elevated inclusive development to a core pillar of our national-security strategy, alongside our diplomacy and defense. Because when extreme poverty grinds down hope, instability and extremism can take root. When conflicts break out, they can spill across borders and threaten regional peace. And when humanitarian disasters strike, they often hit hardest in those communities and those populations that are already most vulnerable.

The terrible images from the migrant crisis and the gut-wrenching stories last year of children traveling from Central America to the United States are vivid reminders of the urgency of this work. We must address not only the immediate needs of displaced populations, we have to prevent and address the root causes of conflict and humanitarian crises.

Over the past six years, the United States has rallied the international community to promote food security and global health. We've made smarter use of our foreign-assistance money to catalyze investment from our partner governments around the world and from the private sector. And we've led the way in prioritizing the connection between secure and peaceful communities and growing our shared prosperity. That commitment will be reflected this weekend when leaders from around the world gather at the United Nations to adopt a new framework of goals and priorities for global-development efforts -- the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

One of those priorities -- Sustainable Development Goal 16 (SDG), the promotion of just, peaceful, and inclusive societies -- speaks directly to the critical work of building more resilient and inclusive societies and to addressing the challenges of fragile states. We know that countries with effective and accountable institutions that prioritize delivering services to their citizens are ultimately more stable. But we have a lot of work to do as an international community to meet SDG 16. To put it starkly, roughly half of the world's extreme poor reside in fragile and conflict-affected states today, and that percentage is only expected to rise. These countries had the poorest record of progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals, and they will need the most help to implement Agenda 2030.

The United States is doing our part. Around the world, our humanitarian efforts are consistently the most generous, the most comprehensive, and the most effective. We're strengthening UN peacekeeping operations to help countries transition out of conflict. We're helping countries make lasting reforms, strengthen their government institutions, and fight corruption.

We're investing in vulnerable communities across Africa, Central America, and South and Southeast Asia to help them build resilience to crises and conflicts and, eventually, reduce the need for costly emergency interventions. And, we're working closely with our partners and other donors to better align our resources and coordinate our efforts so that we can maximize our collective impact.

Agenda 2030 captures the hopes and ambitions of people around the globe for meaningful change and progress. This is an overwhelmingly optimistic moment, but it is just the beginning. Achieving our goals will be a long-term effort that needs our sustained focus over the next 15 years. It will require us to build on the progress we have already made and continue strengthening our partnerships.

I'm proud that in the United States, there's a growing bipartisan consensus about the importance of development -- both in Congress and among the American people, our NGOs, corporations, and faith-based organizations. We rely on this partnership and support to continue advancing our development work around the world. Together, we must do our part to build a more secure, more peaceful, and more prosperous future for the world's most vulnerable.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post, "What's Working: Sustainable Development Goals," in conjunction with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The proposed set of milestones will be the subject of discussion at the UN General Assembly meeting on Sept. 25-27, 2015 in New York. The goals, which will replace the UN's Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015), cover 17 key areas of development -- including poverty, hunger, health, education, and gender equality, among many others. As part of The Huffington Post's commitment to solutions-oriented journalism, this What's Working SDG blog series will focus on one goal every weekday in September. This post addresses Goal 16.

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