Deputy Administrator Paloma Adams-Allen at the Launch of USAID’s Agency Learning Agenda

Speeches Shim

Thursday, May 12, 2022

DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR ADAMS-ALLEN: Thank you, Michele, and welcome everyone. It’s great to have so many of you joining us as we launch USAID’s Learning Agenda. Today, we’re convening partners, researchers, local and indigenous knowledge holders, private sector actors, donors, and the global community to consider how much more impactful our collective development efforts might be, if we could maximize our commitment to evidence-based decision making, guided by the best available science and data.

This is a question that many of you ponder every day, and I am encouraged that USAID has had your support in the development of a strategy that aims to answer it.

It goes without saying: the last few years have been especially difficult for the global development community. We are used to the setbacks and the disruptions that often define the work we do.

But the list of overlapping challenges we’re facing today feels too wide-ranging even for a fiction novel: an ongoing pandemic, conflict and humanitarian need on the rise, democracy under threat, a climate crisis, and a ground war in Eastern Europe with global consequences.

And while there is no panacea, the development community can still point to tremendous improvement in the people’s quality of life over the last 30 years: Nearly all of the world’s children have access to primary education. Infant and maternal mortality have been cut in half. We have helped nations eradicate infectious diseases.

And to quote Administrator Power as she laid out a new vision for global development, “we’ve helped billions—billions, escape fates of near-feudal poverty and deprivation, and helped transform societies from conditions of scarcity to abundance.”

I mention these achievements that we’re all so familiar with because no matter the challenges we face today, the development community presses on, learning from our hits and our misses, and continues to pave the way for sustainable solutions made to meet the moment.

The world has seen incredible gains over the last six decades because of your belief that we can always do better. It is your work that makes us think differently about the way we deliver assistance and partner.

You see the current confluence of events not as a doomsday scenario, but as a gigantic opportunity to grow our impact using lessons from the past, developing and embracing new technology, iterating and sharpening all of the tools in our toolbox.

You thrive in the depth and complexity of the world’s humanitarian and development challenges, so I can only imagine the wave of excitement in April when the White House announced a “Year of Evidence for Action,” instructing a government-wide effort to solidify and expand evidence-based policy and decision making.

Today, in response to the Biden Administration’s call, USAID’s Bureau of Policy Planning and Learning is eager to share with you how we intend to tackle the development and humanitarian challenges before us, with a reinvigorated focus on the generation and application of evidence.

The Agenda includes nine agency-wide learning questions that give us a framework to better align our investments in evaluation, research, analysis, and other evidence-building activities with our vision for inclusive development.

It calls for us to prioritize local partners and their communities in all that we do.

It also serves as a platform to further our commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion, through continued and expanded engagement with local and indigenous communities, as well as a wide swath of researchers and experts; including those from Minority Serving Institutions and partner country higher education institutes.

Following today’s launch, I invite you to use the Agency Learning Agenda to inspire and incentivize evidence building, sharing, and use–to help USAID and our partners tackle the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities in front of us.

I’d like to extend a special thank you to all of the partners who helped us formulate and hone this Agenda. We look forward to continuing our work together in the months and years ahead.

Thank you.

Last updated: June 15, 2022

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