President Barack Obama will host a summit on global development to catalog how he's sought to improve conditions in poorer countries, the White House said Friday, as Obama tries to burnish his legacy on foreign policy.
The White House conference on July 20 will bring together aid workers, diplomats and financiers along with leaders from U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department. Obama will address the summit and the White House has organized panel discussions and other speeches for the day-long event.
Susan Rice, Obama's national security adviser, said the administration had made progress reducing poverty and malnutrition, and improving infant and maternal mortality around the world. Yet she acknowledged that those improvements have been tempered by continuing corruption that fuels violent extremism and a refugee crisis stemming from Syria's civil war.
"Even as we celebrate these gains, we are reminded that every day millions of our fellow human beings still confront poverty, violence and disease."
Increasingly in his final year, Obama has devoted attention to reminding Americans of what he sees as his top accomplishments, knowing his ability to define how history interprets him will diminish significantly once he's no longer president. He's sought to cast his presidency as one of progress for health care, the economy and gay rights, although Republicans strongly oppose most of the steps he's taken on those fronts.
Obama's Open Government Partnership has tried to improve accountability in developing countries, though its founding members include Brazil and the Philippines — two countries whose current situations have stoked concerns about democratic backsliding. His Power Africa initiative set out to double sub-Saharan access to electricity through loan guarantees, but it's unclear whether the program thus far has substantially boosted the continent's megawatt capacity.