John W. McArthur is the Chief Executive Officer of Millennium Promise, the leading international non-profit organization solely committed to supporting the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals to halve extreme poverty by 2015. In this capacity he oversees the Millennium Villages project, which supports integrated social and business development services for more than 400,000 people in rural communities across 10 countries in Africa. Dr. McArthur is also a Research Associate at the Earth Institute at Columbia University, where he previously served as Policy Director, and teaches at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs.
In 2007 and 2008 he co-chaired the International Commission on Education for Sustainable Development Practice , an initiative sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation to identify the cross-disciplinary training requirements for the next generation of sustainable development practitioners. He now co-chairs the International Advisory Board of the ongoing effort to launch a new global network of Masters in Development Practice programs.
Previously, Dr. McArthur served as Deputy Director and Manager of the UN Millennium Project. In that role he coordinated a global network of nearly 300 experts who served on ten thematic Task Forces, oversaw a policy team that provided integrated technical advice to governments in low-income countries around the world, and served as lead editor of the Project's final report to the UN Secretary-General, Investing in Development: A Practical Plan to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Prior to that he was a Research Fellow at the Center for International Development at Harvard University, where he co-authored the Global Competitiveness Report with Michael Porter and Jeffrey Sachs. He completed a Masters and Doctorate in Economics at Oxford University, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar; a Masters in Public Policy at Harvard University's John F Kennedy School of Government; and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) at the University of British Columbia. He has been recognized by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader.
President Obama’s recent national security strategy places a significant emphasis on development in the poorest countries. This is partly anchored in an ambition to promote American values, and partly in an ambition to address pragmatic concerns that human suffering in any corner of the world can ultimately threaten the wellbeing of Americans. The risks of violent conflict are much higher at the lowest levels of economic development, and there is significantly higher risk in African countries exposed to major climate stress.
The focus on development is consistent with the President’s stated objective of backing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and a vision to eradicate extreme poverty in a generation. The MDGs are the internationally agreed targets that were established in 2000 to tackle key challenges in hunger, education, health, access to safe drinking water, and income poverty, with a general aim of cutting each problem by half by 2015, compared to a baseline of 1990. The Goals draw attention to 1.4 billion people still living on less than a dollar a day, and to the simple and low-cost interventions that can make a dramatic difference in their lives. A $10 modern anti-malaria bednet can protect two children for five years. A $50 bag of fertilizer can help a poor farmer double her crop and start to earn an income. A locally produced school meal can entice a child to attend classes and have the energy to focus and learn while there.