Smart Power: The private sector's contribution to development. Interview with Dan Runde

In preparation for the SID 2011 World Congress scheduled to take place in Washington, DC next July - the newly appointed President of the SID Washington Chapter, Daniel Runde, shared his view about development and how it has been shaped over the last ten years. In today's shifting global context it is crucial for SID and other organizations to move the discussion further and to rethink how we can contribute to the development process.

Interview with Daniel Runde, President SID Washington D.C. Chapter

Q.: Before your appointment as President of SID Washington Chapter you have served for many years on the chapter's board. How did you come to join SID?

A: I first worked in the commercial and investment banking, and then I joined the government when Andrew Natsios became head of USAID. I worked with him and others to put together a new programme on development partnerships. I was very involved in working on how the US government could partner with the private sector, philanthropy and diasporas on development projects. At the time public-private partnership was not a major trend in development but the issue was generating lots of energy and excitement. There was a lot of attention on development partnerships here in Washington and this is when the then SID Washington President, Asif Shaikh, asked me to join the board of SID Washington in 2005.

Q.: According to your experience, as someone involved in different sectors from business to government and donor agencies, how has development (and SID accordingly) changed over the years in the US context?

A: The interest in development issues in Washington has been increasing over the years, and I think SID has been part of that trend. September 11th and the debate on soft/hard power which followed together with the government priority of national security increased the development budget. This increase first happened under the Bush administration has been continued by President Obama. However this is not only a US phenomenon. The entire world has changed in relation to development with a major engagement of the private sector in the development field. Going back a bit further, during the 1960s, economic engagement in the developing world were 70% ODA and 30 % private resources; in this past decade, ODA has accounted for 15-20 % and the rest was private resources, including remittances, foreign direct investments, and various forms of private philanthropy from individuals, religious organizations and private foundations. This change of the last 30-40 years occurred not only in US but elsewhere in the Global North (i.e. Italy, The Netherlands and Japan) with greater foreign investments and transfers of resources to developing countries. Increased movement of people through migration has also happened as well. It is important that we understand development in a broader economic engagement context including investment flows, private charitable giving and remittances.

Another major change is the emergence of new economic wealth among the BRICs leading to greater levels of South-South transfers and investments. These countries are also witnessing a major increase in civil society and the creation of home-grown development agencies. The concepts of a global North and global South need to be rethought. These changes are challenging our conversations and understanding of development. This is even more the case given the current context of reduced availability in public foreign assistance, as a consequence of the financial in crisis. It is going to be very difficult for countries such as the UK and USA to justify foreign assistance programs for middle income countries if they are becoming donors or if they have space exploration programs. In other words a foreign assistance programme with Brasil or China will be more and more difficult to defend. Traditional donor countries and emerging countries are going to need to reach a new understanding on what partnership means.

Q.: In a such a changing context, what is the role of SID and in particular of the Washington Chapter?

A: What SID Washington chapter seeks to offers is a neutral convening space where ideas and cross sectoral learning can happen. In Washington we like to define SID as the 'global town square of development', with more than 1200 individual members and 180 institutional members. We bring together many development actors and seek to facilitate discussion on key topical issues. In this regard, the upcoming World Congress is a great opportunity for SID to shift the debate towards crucial questions. In particular, I hope we can move further the understanding about the role and the impact that the private sector on development.

Q.: Regarding the 2011 SID World Congress - that is scheduled to take place in Washington next July - which are your objectives and expectations?

A: As new president of the SID Washington Chapter, my major commitment is to have a successful World Congress. We are working very hard to make sure this will be a good process engaging as many chapters as possible from the entire network of the Society. This is a critical moment in development. We are witnessing: a shift in the market of ODA with changes in roles and performances of the traditional donor countries, a change in the definition of Global South, and a new understanding of the central role that the private sector plays. The broader context is such that we need to get the opportunity to move the discussion further and to rethink how we can contribute to the process of development. The SID 2011 World Congress is a great moment for SID to contribute to the broader debate around development. I expect a great participation of all SID chapters. This is particularly important since the Congress is also an important moment for SID, as an institution working in development, to understand how to move forward.

Interview by Angela Zarro

Daniel Runde is a long-standing member of the SID-Washington Board, and became President of the organization in February 2011. He also serves as Chair of the SID World Congress. Mr. Runde is director of the Project on Prosperity and Development and holds the William A. Schreyer Chair in Global Analysis at CSIS. Previously, Mr. Runde was head of the Foundations Unit for the Department of Partnerships and Advisory Service Operations at the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private-sector arm of the World Bank Group. From 2005 to 2007, he was director of the Office of Global Development Alliances (GDA) at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Earlier in his career, Mr. Runde worked for both CitiBank and BankBoston in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was named in September 2010 as one of '40 under 40' in International Development in Washington by the Devex Group. He has written and spoken extensively on public-private partnership issues is very active in philanthropic sector. Mr. Runde received an M.P.P from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a B.A., cum laude, from Dartmouth College.

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