The ICMA brought together 3,800 delegates last week in Denver, of whom around 150 were from outside the US. Seven UK chief executives attended.
Delegates from outside the US feel the ICMA doesn't sufficiently value the contribution from overseas, even though half its revenue now comes from overseas assistance projects. This income is committed to programs that frequently cannot benefit overseas members.
Mr Greenwell said that assisting developing countries was a two-way learning process, such as in care of the elderly where western society was less effective than other parts of the world.
In 10 years there would be 2.5 billion more people on earth - if they couldn't survive in their own countries where would they go, he asked. He said the aid process was often profitable; in South Korea the US had spent $16 billion in aid over 10 years, and last year the US exported $30bn worth of goods there.
The cost of failure was vast, he argued. In 1994 peacekeeping alone cost $5.4bn.
Aid tapped into existing skills and knowledge that was freely available, said Mr Attwood. 'Don't back it because we should, but because we must.'
- Among the other speakers was Ted Gaebler, co-author of Reinventing government, which has had a major influence in reassessing the management of public services in the US and elsewhere. He said only two countries - Brazil and Mexico - had adopted the US form of government.