Policy Wisdom from Christopher Shepherd-Pratt
In this blog, Chris Shepherd-Pratt, outgoing director of the Policy Division in USAID’s Bureau for Resilience, Environment and Food Security (REFS), shares his thoughts on the importance of policy and good governance, and the role of partners, for development.
Country policy is fundamental to sustained progress. Where good policy can accelerate progress and reinforce good governance across sectors, bad policy can erode faith in governance and have disastrous consequences for a country, its future and vulnerable peoples. Good policy is the product of long-term investment in policy systems, institutions and people to use evidence and to be accountable for results. It goes hand-in-hand with investing in good governance and democratic principles that promote transparency, participation, rule-of-law and accountability.
Policy is the expression of a country’s aspirations, values, priorities, opportunities, challenges and capacities all at once. A country’s policy agenda, the institutional policy architecture supporting that policy agenda’s development and implementation, and the expectations and mechanisms promoted through the institutional architecture are unique to the country, and are shaped by its history and experience. It’s no wonder then, that successful public policy initiatives start with local people — champions for change who understand the complex dynamics of the policy landscape, who are working for a better future, who are present and invested in achieving that future, and who promote accountability for themselves and others over time to learn and improve results.
As a development partner, we have the opportunity to walk alongside these champions and do what we can to help them succeed. We can help them invest in a system that will produce better outcomes and support them in enacting decisions that account for available and validated evidence. We can help them make connections to a broader set of policy actors and institutions that offer additional opportunities for learning, resourcing, support, solidarity and perspective. Our approach to this matters, and we should always be asking whether our actions are strengthening the agency and capacity of local people to achieve the vision they have for themselves and their future.
Christopher Shepherd-Pratt has been with USAID since 2002, where he currently leads the policy practice in REFS. Prior to joining the Bureau for Food Security (now REFS), Chris served as senior policy advisor for the USAID Administrator. He served as a director on the staff of the National Security Council under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, where he helped develop the Feed the Future initiative and represented the United States to the G-8 Food Experts Group, supporting the launch of the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative and the Rome Principles for Global Food Security. His policy background is complemented by his experience as chair of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Development Partners Coordination Group, USAID’s representative to the executive board of the World Bank Group and the governing bodies of the United Nations food agencies in Rome and the Committee on World Food Security. Chris is married and holds a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of International Law and Diplomacy.