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tv   USAID Administrator Samantha Power Speech on Global Development  CSPAN  January 4, 2022 2:34am-3:57am EST

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university. this is an hour and 20 minutes.
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>> -- welcome.
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i am the dean at georgetown university and i can't tell you how thrilled we are to have you live and in person for the first time. we have a huge audience here all to welcome usaid administrator samantha power and to hear her vision. on this remarkable day commemorating the 60th anniversary of his agency, i'm particularly pleased that the administrator has chosen to commemorate this anniversary at the school of foreign service, the oldest school of international affairs in the united states. the school was created over a century ago at a global moment like a current one. america was coming out of a lengthy war that caused unprecedented -- and the world was turning inwards. tired of the total the global -- and fears of global
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integument's. dutch entanglement. that led the school to be prepared for a new education -- generation of leaders. not far from his podium, our founder said as unprepared as we were for war, we are resolved never to be unprepared for the piece. -- peace. and for years usaid has been working to make sure we are never unprepared for peace, and we look to them to make the case that our peace and prosperity with the world particularly those parts of the world that are struggling to overcome poverty, and equality, that are healing from the deep wounds of prolonged violence and facing existential risk from climate change. we at georgetown and the school of foreign service, are proud to
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have contributed to the ranks of usaid and its mission, ranging from former leaders, our beloved formal dean -- former dean at the leadership level and of course to the scores of graduates currently serving in usaid. our master's degree in global human development builds on the tradition we have embraced to foster an approach to development based on the jazz would principal of care -- just what people of care for the whole person. we are proud to welcome and allocate -- an eloquent -- and a diplomat one of the most important agencies to prevent your vision for the future of u.s.aid.
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and our fellow katrina who will be moderating, one of our committed next-generation of global new -- global leaders. return to our co-sponsor, an organization that shows the way to reach beyond lyrical polarization. liz. [applause] [applause] >> thank you, it is such a pleasure for us to go host this event with you with the school of foreign service. i see the incredible contributions that you and your colleagues make. it will all be together in person to welcome u.s. administrator samantha powers for what is going to be an
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amazing conversation. one of my favorite days is coming here on campus, in each semester, to identify one of your professors, she teaches a class that some of you students might have taken. the national security toolkit. i am invited to guest lecture on the topic of a as a national security tool. i have to tell you that the students are always a bit aghast when i tell them that the legislative guides are aid policy today -- guides for our aid policy today were written under president kennedy. we are still working under that framework. the good news is that usaid now has transformed and reformed the development policy, particularly
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since 9/11. delivering remarkable results and a return on investment to the american public. while we do not have time for me to give my entire lecture on transformational results and reform, here is what i want to tell you. in the last 10 years overall, there has been over 55 partisan bills that have been signed into law in advance effective development policy. everything from water to food security, to finding -- fighting hiv aid and empowering women and girls. it has been supported from the freedom caucus to the progressive caucus. washington does not particularly agree on very much today, in terms of development policy, there is strong bipartisan support. even when i see this, i see the same thing that policymakers
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understand. these issues matter. they matter to our health, economic instruments -- interests, and interests at home. in my own coalition, it includes business leaders, faith leaders, veterans, and farmers. across the country. when i travel, i have been doing a lot virtually lately. when i travel, we host town hall meetings with members of congress, we talk about what it is worth, what it is worth here at home to advance and support effective development policies in programs. they care and they are interested in talking about these issues. one of the things that i have
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learned most profoundly in the last two years within the global pandemic, seeing the progress flip in our sustainable environment goals. we are not moving fast enough to meet the challenges of the challenges throughout the world. this is where u.s. administrator samantha power comes in. here she sits at the helm of the international development agency. she leads the world and its 10,000 strong global team. the first u.s. administrator to hold a seat at the national security council. those of you who know samantha know she is an advocate and an ambassador and now the administrator. as a journalist and a pulitzer prize-winning author, a tireless
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advocate for human rights, for those whose lives have been upended by conflict and disaster, she is someone who knows the world and knows it well. she also knows the world knows her. she has led u.s. diplomacy at the u.n.. tackling everything from a bola, to helping rally the world on climate, the paris accord, two bold actions on refugees and defending civil society. and now she is the administrator, bringing her remarkable leadership, expertise, and her tenacious passion to elevate the agency to new heights. to tackle so many challenges and
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write the chapter of transformation for usaid. we will get to meet katrina mahoney, in 2020, usaid, a georgetown masters students who will moderate the conversation with samantha power after her remarks. please join me in welcoming samantha power as she shares a new vision for global development. welcome. [applause] samantha power: thank you so much. thank you. to be together, i do not know that i even fully appreciate how
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much i miss this. to be in a classroom with students, particularly students of this incredible institution, thank you dean for hosting us today and for your inspiring remarks. i cannot overstate the impact that the school has had on america's foreign policy. i am honored, truly, to address the young people who fill its halls. thank you for the introduction and for the long time support and advocacy of u.s. global leadership coalition. when you first started this coalition, the united states agency for international development was battered by budget cuts, arguably on the verge of extinction. we may not have had a 50th anniversary, let alone a 60th, without the work that you and many others did to rally our nation's diplomatic corps, our
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military, private sector, our nonprofit, and the general public in building broad partisan support for our mission and our funding. because if we are going to laminate covid-19 and head off the next pandemic, if we are going to slow climate change and build the clean industries of the future, if we are going to reverse the decline in democracy we have witnessed for 15 years and carry freedom forward, we need more than a big-budget. we need a big tent. in 1951, a young congressman had just returned to his georgetown home, blocks from this auditorium after a seven week whirlwind tour around the world. prior, to this man's trip through the middle east, he had
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been dismissed by many as a lightweight with little to contribute in the world of foreign affairs. on his travels, this young congressman so nationalist movements and struggles for independence taking hold. time and again, he saw the united states backing its western allies and its colonial ambitions at the expense of people's aspirations. he came away convinced that america needed to be rooted more in its values and listening to what people in the rest of the world actually wanted for themselves. in a radio address after his trip, he argued that the answers to the ills of the world lay in america's own foundation. it is realization of the right of others to the independence
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that we cherish. it is a passionate belief that man can deal effectively with his enemies, such as poverty, and wants,". america needed to energize with fresh ideas and widespread participation. foreign policy, he said was too important to all of us to leave it to the experts and the diplomats. his remarks were widely dismissed, his ideas were rejected as naive. his own father responded in a radio address where he ridiculed his son's idea that america needed a new approach. 10 years later, john f. kennedy would become president of the united states. in an executive order signed on november 3rd, 1961, he would
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found usaid and cement his belief in a world in which america extended its hand to those in need. when it did so, that world would be freer, healthier, more peaceful, and more prosperous. across 60 years, usaid has been a remarkable force for progress in the world. we have helped nations eradicate smallpox, turn the tide against hiv, malaria, and tuberculosis and snuff out a bola. -- ebola. we have helped millions escape states of poverty and transformed societies from conditions of scarcity to abundance. we have responded to more than 2900 disasters. we have backed democratic transitions or supported elections in nearly 90 countries
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since the end of the cold war alone. it is a phenomenal legacy beyond what anyone might have imagined 60 years ago. yet, as usaid's footprint and our mission grew and demand expanded, the agency was forced to transition from undertaking projects directly with local communities to managing and lamenting partners. mounting paperwork meant less direct engagement. the agency faced frequent political headwinds, funding and staffing were frequently scrutinized and slimmed down. it's authorities were splintered during democratic turf wars. even as its responsibility surged tackling a number of crises around the globe. like any institution, buffeted by outside forces, it turned
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inward. usa eight relied on fewer partners -- usaid relied on fewer partners. it recruited from fewer schools. despite its track record of inspiring results, most americans did not know much about it or what it was up to. yet, never before, have our fates been so intertwined with those of people around the world. the foreign policy community has been saying for decades that problems across borders. we used to call them problems without passports. what happens abroad matters at home. even though people understand that rationally and have for some time, today it is not just
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an intellectual argument. it is a felt, lived, experience. it is a losing our friends and loved ones, our grandparents and colleagues to a disease that originated halfway around the world and forever altered the global economy. it is almost three centuries of carbon pollution leading to storms that flood our streets and subways, flyers that darken our skies, deep freezes that break our pipes and droughts turn our farmland to dust. it is oligarchs who raise our housing costs by buying up properties with laundered money, foreign hackers who infect our computers with ransomware, autocrats who try to manipulate our elections and spread disinformation to sow division in our society. we must do more than simply argue the importance of international development to our lives here at home. we also must work to change
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international development. as john f. kennedy said, we cannot leave it up to the experts and the diplomats, we must offer people not just a vision of international development, but a vision of inclusive development. i mean that in three ways. first, we have to broaden our coalition to allow people from more diverse backgrounds and partners of all kinds to participate in this development mission. we must make aid more accessible. second, we must shift our thinking to be more focused on the voices and needs of the most marginalized. we must make aid more equitable. third, in confronting some of the biggest challenges of our time, covid-19, climate change, growing authoritarianism, we
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must listen to what our partners in the countries where we work are asking of us. we must make aid more responsive. these are the changes that i will prioritize during my tenure at usaid. first, this involves, you all. we will need help. over several years, usaid's workforce has been depleted and our current numbers of civil service and foreign service staff are well short of our needs. even as global consulates are lasting longer, development needs are exhilarating, and the number of complex emergencies we deal with each year has ballooned in the past two decades as a result, usaid has created unsustainable workarounds to fill staffing shortfalls -- some 90 percent of our positions in our global health, humanitarian assistance, and conflict
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prevention and stabilization bureaus are on short-term contracts. to this end, we will seek to increase our career workforce over the next four years. to build a brighter future, we need to staff our agency for the future. but this means staffing up differently than we have in the past. today, hispanic and indigenous staff and persons with disabilities, for example, are significantly underrepresented at usaid. while the percentages are somewhat more representative with regards to asian, black and african american staff, they, like all people of color at usaid, are significantly underrepresented in senior positions and policy and technical roles. if we want an agency that reflects the best of what america has to offer -- all our dynamism, all our fresh perspectives, all our best
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thinking -- then we must prioritize the hiring and retention of staff that look like america. since joining usaid, i have been the beneficiary of tireless work that our career staff undertook to devise a new diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy. because of their groundwork, i was able to sign that strategy on my first day in office, and was privileged to host our first-ever historically black colleges and universities recruiting conference, followed by our first ever hispanic-serving institution recruiting event. going forward, we will aim to increase our budget for paid internships by nearly 700 percent, to more than $4.5 million, because we know that unpaid internships can be a barrier to entry for candidates from underrepresented communities. in partnership with howard university, we plan to double the number of donald m. payne fellowships, which help
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fellows pay for two years of graduate school before receiving foreign service appointments at usaid -- and i'm so excited to sit down with one of our incoming payne fellows, katryna mahoney after my speech. [applause] our most recent class of foreign service officers is our most diverse class ever, and as we staff up, we've got to break that record year-after-year. but recruiting diverse candidates into public service is only half the battle -- we also want to retain them by creating the kind of welcoming, nurturing environment they deserve and supporting their opportunities to grow and thrive. for the first time, usaid will bring on board a chief diversity officer who will report directly to me and help us hold ourselves accountable to these goals.
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i will prioritize equity among our staff -- regardless of whether they are hired as foreign service officers, civil servants, locally-hired foreign service nationals, or third-party contractors. our contract staff, who i alluded to earlier, often dispatched to some of the world's most dangerous places, deserve basic benefits like retirement accounts, parental leave, and health and life insurance. and our locally-hired foreign service national staff are the heart and soul of our missions overseas. they provide continuity for our work as american staff rotate through, and are leading experts across a wide range of usaid priorities. yet currently their opportunities for advancement are capped and their benefits are inequitable compared to their american peers. we are committed to opening up new pathways for growth and development for our locally employed staff, our foreign service nationals commensurate
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with their experience and expertise. in addition to making usaid more accessible in terms of who joins our ranks, we also want to vastly expand the groups with whom we partner, especially the private sector if we hope to make a sustainable difference. usaid currently has 750 active private sector partnerships today worth about $60 billion, and for every public dollar we put forward, we're typically able to leverage $6 of private money. we've done this to enlist coca-cola, for example, to bring its logistics expertise -- you literally can buy a coke anywhere in the world -- to move medicines across africa. we have partnered with keurig and starbucks to support coffee farmers throughout the world. we have worked with google to build fiber optic cable in liberia.
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but these projects tend to be one-offs, rather than being taken to scale globally; they're often too slow, we are often really too slow, and too bureaucratic for all but the most patient partners; and they ask too little of our business partners, seeking support for a project but not enlisting their help in pushing for broader reforms. so today, i'm pleased to announce we intend to launch a centralized, flexible fund devoted to private sector engagement. coupled with critical bureaucratic reforms, this will allow us to be far more nimble and strategic in mobilizing businesses around the world to advance our core priorities -- such as advancing women's participation in the economy. to make it easier for america's
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vibrant small businesses, ngos, faith-based organizations, minority-serving institutions, diaspora groups and foundations to partner with usaid, today we're also launching that site is our new welcome mat -- a one-stop shop that let's any organization know exactly how to pursue usaid partnerships, including, for example, online courses that will help you bid for our awards. it is crucial that we engage more frequently and more intensely and sustainably with the broader range of partners that i mentioned, as they offer a scale that no single development agency can truly reach. so we have to lower barriers for these kinds of organizations and institutions to join our mission. now that's especially true of
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the local organizations and companies based in the countries in which we work. when we partner with these local ngos and businesses, we have an opportunity to double our impact -- to not just manage a project and deliver results, which is important, but to grow the local capacity of that business or organization so its impact will be sustained long after its relationship with usaid ends. yet, in the last decade, despite numerous efforts, initiatives, and even support from capitol hill, the amount of usaid dollars going to local partners increased only from four percent to six percent. as recently as 2017, 60 percent of our assistance was awarded to just 25 partners. this is because, a number of reasons, it's largely because
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working with local partners, it turns out, is more difficult, time-consuming, and it's riskier. local partners often lack the internal accounting expertise our contracts require, or they might lack the legal counsel needed to shape their contracts, many of which can run hundreds of pages long. so, clearly this status quo, as in the percentages that illustrate this, is tough to shift. there is a lot of gravity pulling in the opposite direction. but we have got to try. moving forward, we are going to provide at least a quarter of all our funds directly to local partners within the course of the next four years. to support the burden, and the burden is real, this will place on our missions, we will expand our capacity to issue and manage awards across the agency, and expand the authorization for our
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foreign service nationals, our locally-employed staff, to play a larger role in awarding and managing assistance. we're going to begin this effort here in our own hemisphere. today, i'm pleased to announce the launch of our new centroamerica local initiative, through which we intend to devote $300 million dollars to work directly with local organizations in el salvador, guatemala, and honduras to create locally-driven, sustainable progress over the next five years. [applause] that last effort is so crucial, and brings me to my second point: if we truly want to make aid inclusive, local voices need to be at the center of everything we do. we've got to tap into the knowledge of local communities, and their lived-experiences.
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otherwise, we risk reinforcing the systemic inequities that are already in place. as americans with a fraught history living up to our own values, we've got to approach this work with intention and humility. but the entire development community needs to interrogate the traditional power dynamics of donor-driven development and look for ways to amplify the local voices of those who too often have been left out of the conversation. at usaid, in addition to a 25 percent target of our assistance going to local partners, today i'm announcing that by the end of the decade, 50 percent of our programming, at least half of every dollar we spend, will need to place local communities in the lead to either co-design a project, set priorities, drive implementation, or evaluate the impact of our programs. we are also taking steps to strengthen the inclusive development office that we
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opened last year. in addition to our 50 percent local voices target, which i just mentioned, we are going to keep pushing forward with changes that will enable our staff to better focus our programs so they reach women and girls, and marginalized groups including indigenous communities; lgbtqi people; persons with disabilities; and racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. today, very few of our missions have a staff member focused on the specific challenges facing marginalized groups in a particular country. going forward, we want every mission to have a dedicated foreign service officer whose primary focus is gender equality and inclusive development. that person will help us institutionalize this work and make a focus on aid equity not just someone's intention but an important part of someone's career. when it comes to empowering
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women and girls -- an investment that pays huge economic and security dividends -- i plan to ask every bureau to at least double the percentage of their work that advances gender equality and report to me regularly about these efforts. finally, we want to make sure that we are deploying the latest insights in economics and behavioral science to make sure our programs have the impact on underserved communities that we truly intend for them to have. let me give you an example here, one of the biggest barriers that we face in trying to prevent hiv/aids around the world is social stigma. women make up more than half the people living with hiv, but even though we now have pills that can prevent hiv infections before they happen, behavioral research demonstrated that taking preventive medication still carried with it the impression of illness. still carried that stigma.
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now, rationally, if you're thinking about rational man on whom public policy was predicated for generations, we would expect that people who need life-saving drugs -- or, say, a vaccine -- will take them. but as i hope we all know by now, we can't assume that we know how people will behave and we can't assume what works in one culture will easily work in another. to understand human behavior, we need concrete data, not intuitions or assumptions. by actually engaging with the young women at risk of hiv-infections and hearing from them, we actually were able to redesign and rebrand the preventive medication. instead of a pill bottle, it now comes in a container that looks like lip gloss. we are now saving lives, because we listened. this is the core premise of behavioral science: that to make progress, we have to understand human behavior, gathering and
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applying evidence from the communities we serve. and to deploy this kind of analysis in our program design, as well as to help us integrate insights from randomized control trials and other empirical assessments of potential programs, i intend to establish a new office of behavioral science and experimental economics that will report to a new, elevated and expanded chief economist -- a position your chair here at georgetown, steve radelet, once held. and he's cheering so i must be on the right track, i hope i'm on the right track. [applause] so, here we go, we will make aid more accessible to people and organizations who want to participate. we will make it more equitable in terms of the impact it will have on the ground. but when i say we need to make aid inclusive, i also mean we need to listen to what our partner nations actually want.
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across all of our programming, we have a real opportunity to make our aid more responsive. let me illustrate if i could, using three of the biggest challenges we face today -- covid-19, climate change, and the rise of corrupt autocracies. on covid-19, clearly we've heard that our partners want vaccines. thanks to president biden's global commitment to become the world's arsenal of vaccines, we are racing to deliver more than a billion doses of the pfizer vaccine, as well as 200 million surplus domestic doses, to low- and lower-middle income countries, while pressing other countries to step up with their own vaccine donations. yet, the vast majority of these vaccines are produced by the world's largest economies, even though the vast majority of need, not just on covid but on disease generally, is in developing countries, making this gap one of the starkest problems poor countries have faced during the pandemic, and a
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risk to future global health and future global health equity. well before the pandemic showcased this challenge, the entire continent of africa, home to over 1.2 billion people, produced only one percent of the vaccines that the people in the continent consumed. countries don't want to depend on others for vaccines any more than they want to depend on us for foreign assistance. that is why the united states is already working to significantly bolster vaccine manufacturing capacity abroad, in countries like india and south africa, and looking to do far more. this will not only bring hundreds of millions of vaccine doses directly to the markets that need them most, but allow developing countries to respond more quickly and effectively to their own health needs. we will also continue to use this global covid-19 vaccine
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push to strengthen health systems in partner countries -- strengthening cold chains, supporting the health workforce, and improving health information management. we have to get shots in arms today, we know, but we should do it in such a way that leaves countries better positioned to treat their populations tomorrow. to that end, alongside our efforts to increase the supply of covid-19 vaccines and strengthen local health systems, we will work with countries around the world to develop the global, regional and country-level capabilities needed to meet future pandemic threats. as part of this effort, we are doubling the number of partner countries we will support in preventing and detecting pandemic threats. and after receiving countless cries for help from countries in crisis during this pandemic, we are establishing a new and dedicated usaid emergency response unit to lead on infectious disease outbreaks,
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including by facilitating rapid surge capacity when an outbreak occurs. with climate change, earlier this week, president biden was in glasgow where he cemented the u.s.' ambitions to cut our carbon pollution in half by 2030, and reach net-zero by 2050. and we are on the verge of the largest legislative effort we have ever seen to make clean energy cheaper at home, create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs, make our air and water cleaner, and advance the cause of environmental justice. but environmental justice does not end at our shores. poor countries, those that had the least to do with a changing climate but the most to lose in experiencing its effects, are asking for our help. as a wealthy nation, responsible for much of the carbon pollution currently in our atmosphere, we
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bear a special responsibility to help poorer nations with little emissions of their own, manage the worst impacts of a warming planet. later tonight, i am going to fly to glasgow as it happens to support a major initiative president biden announced to do just that: the president's emergency plan for adaptation or resilience, or prepare. together with the support of congress, the u.s. government is requesting $3 billion annually for something poor countries have been asking us for -- funds to help in some of the most vulnerable countries brace for a changing climate. we will help support more than 500 million people to adapt to climate change through efforts like scaling drought-tolerant agriculture, establishing early-warning systems for storms, and creating new insurance schemes that can support people when their
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harvests fail or livestock perish. and finally when it comes to the imperiled state of democracy around the world, we must listen to those brave activists, protestors, and journalists who are crying out for respect for human rights and appealing for our support. jfk's remark that the most powerful force in the world is humankind's eternal desire to be free and independent is as true today as it was back then. though we have seen democracies wither, and militaries steal power away from civilians in guinea, in burma, and most recently in sudan progressive reform movements all around the world are working every day to show that democracy delivers. in zambia, moldova, and nearby in the dominican republic, for example, we have seen landslide victories for elected leaders
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who campaigned on strengthening democracy, embracing the rule of law and fighting corruption. what we and other democracies need to do is show up -- show up and help leaders show tangible benefits as they move towards freedom, more respect for human rights, and more accountability for democratic institutions. established democracies also need to help set global rules-of-the-road for surveillance technologies and digital disinformation as autocrats grow savvier in their attempts to control and manipulate people. we need to help support a free-and-fair global press to hold leaders to account. and we need to tackle, with all the seriousness it demands, the scourge of global corruption. corruption is basically development in reverse. it harms long-term economic development, scares away private sector investment, deepens
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inequality, and even harms the environment as a result of illicit logging, fishing, and polluting. it also disproportionately harms the most marginalized in a society; it is actually fully inclusive in its malignancy. it also goes hand-in-hand with autocracy, fueling it, because it turns out those who centralize power, centralize wealth. and when it is exposed, it can elicit fury and drive people to the streets like few other issues. of the record number of protests around the world in 2019, before the pandemic, more than half were protests against corruption and six led to changes in government. president biden has already announced bold new steps to combat corruption and shutter tax havens. and we will launch several initiatives to strengthen democracy and fight corruption at this december's summit for democracy. but today, i'm pleased to
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announce an initiative that responds to a request from a group of independent journalists i met with during my very first week at usaid. it turns out that autocrats and oligarchs often employ a crude but effective tactic to kill stories they don't like: they sue reporters until those reporters abandon stories or go out of business. as a result, we are launching a global defamation defense fund to protect journalists against lawsuits that are designed to deter them from doing their work. we will offer them courage to survive coverage -- excuse me i hope courage as well but they don't need any courage these journalists -- to survive defamation claims or deter autocrats and oligarchs from trying to sue them out of business in the first place. to counter the ever-changing threats to democracy, because
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they're evolving, we depend on this sort of innovation. and it is the people on the frontlines who know best how we can support them. we all remember jfk's iconic line from his inaugural address: “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” we can all recite that pretty much from memory. but do any of us know what kennedy was asking of us? it was not, actually as it may sound, a call for local volunteerism and domestic renewal, in fact, kennedy was asking for americans to commit themselves to global action -- to struggle against “tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.” it was a vision of international development, offered not in some proclamation or barely-read policy directive, but in the most widely-watched speech
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president kennedy would ever give. he spoke about foreign assistance because he wanted americans to be proud of the role they were playing in tackling the world's greatest challenges. today, americans should know that for 60 years, usaid assembled some of the brightest, most dedicated, and most effective public servants in the world, and they can take pride in the impact american generosity is having on people in need around the world. that is the agency i feel so privileged to run, that is the agency that i am excited to further unleash -- not just as an agency for international development, but as an agency for inclusive development. inclusive of this country's diverse talent and dynamic private sector; inclusive of the voices of those whom we are privileged to serve alongside; tackling problems abroad in a way that is responsive to our partners, that will save lives,
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and that will advance american interests and values. thank you. [applause] katryna: thank you for joining us as usaid celebrates its 60th anniversary. that was such a moving speech and i think it speaks to the growing role and importance of development alongside diplomacy. as a donald and payne fellow, i would like to express my gratitude to you and the fellows that have come before me. i look forward to carrying out
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the legacy of the late congressman, donald payne and promoting a more inclusive and equitable world. one thing i would like to emphasize is how much your approach or philosophy resonates with me. you center humans -- their lives, their stories, their own abilities and their opportunities. that is a key solution to many of the challenges we face today. so thank you for reminding us of that value. with that, i would like to follow up on your inclusive vision for development and the three dimensions you outlined. i can probably take off -- ok.
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you talked about these three dimensions for development and one thing i would like to ask is how usaid intends to operationalize this localization agenda and how it intends to measure these results and outcomes? what does that strategy look like in allowing for collaborating, adapting, and learning? samantha: first of all, thank you for being such an amazing ambassador to the fellowship program. you are making such incredible contributions all around the world. time to get you in the mix. study hard. [laughter]
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let me start with a little historical context and say i really admire my predecessors. we had a gathering around the anniversary of all the recent usaid administrators, and each of them made a defining impact. i'm the beneficiary of the work they have done and reforms they have undertaken. in recent years, all usaid administrators have said to pursue the same objectives i just described for you today. my predecessors are amazing people and really determined people. the staff is dedicated to this agenda, yet you heard the percentage. this is where we are.
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all the gravity that stands in the way, it's so counterintuitive given we are pursuing not just development but sustainable development that we wouldn't be investing more. part of what i've been seeking to understand and the six months i've been in the job already is what's going on? if all of that will is there, if contracting with usaid is hard, it is onerous, there are a lot of hoops you have to jump through, so nobody is setting out to go with the same old set of partners. it's just that there a disparate impact of these onerous requirements on smaller, scrappy local innovations that don't have deloitte level capacities in the organization. you ask how we are going to go
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about doing it and we've talked to our predecessors to understand -- did it work in some ways and not the other? on the hill, there is huge support for this initiative, there is huge frustration as they currently exist. we are hopeful we can translate that desire to see change into more flexibility for us, to sit left the-right seat with those organizations to build out that capacity. in the short and medium term, that asks more of staff. you put out the requests and the larger organization has all capacity in the house. with the smaller ones, it's almost like mentor ship and partnership. right now, the bandwidth of our staff is stretched beyond description with covid and all
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these developments we've experienced in the last couple of years, plus attrition and not having become insert number of staff to deal with all the programming we are doing. that's why we have to invest in the workforce. we need from congress the flexibility to view it as part of their message -- mission. the goal is to work ourselves out of business. these numerical targets are new. i'm announcing for the first time this central american pilot program is new. we will be accountable to what you have heard and i'm hopeful that by putting this out there, knowing how much support this has -- more than 4000 people who work at usaid are foreign service nationals and you can imagine how excited they are.
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something i've heard in all my travels so far. but we need the resources to invest in doing away with the disparate impact of these regulations that and up foreclosing the possibility of working with usaid, with those organizations that can't meet all of the legal and accounting barriers. katryna: thank you. something that stands out to me is this relationship between the personal and political. while being a diplomat and public servant, i understand you identify as an activist, human rights activist. my question is how can we dispel this idea that you cannot embody the two?
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how do you communicate to the activist within us that we can also be public servants and how do we bring our values into this public service space? samantha: that's a great question. i had been an activist and critic of american foreign policy my whole career before i joined the obama administration in 2009. i would get asked that question -- what does the old cement the power say to the new cement the power? it's the same person, it turns out. it's just me. my activist soul was often frustrated by the kind of bank shot required. i had to figure out what i thought the right thing to do might have been by some government institution or international institution, but i wasn't in a position directly to do anything.
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you needed someone to take up that cause and i would write up ed's and then, waiting for someone to read it and do something. being outside had that other kind of frustration -- it wasn't even that i was so curious about what went on in the situation room were behind the curtain. i was a journalist as well, but i needed to know there was someone there who would pick it up and fight in the same way we were fighting on the outside. that was the most gratifying thing about joining government -- there are 70 people who just never give up and you are relentless in the way activists are relentless. they just happen to be doing it with a badge around their neck.
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that is why i was eager to come back and serve this time around. in a way, and government, what i have found and i think i see it in young people like you who join is you bring your values. you bring your history and you are an advocate, you are a vector and your goal is to persuade people, the same way you're trying to build coalitions, trying to organize and inspire people to get more involved, to put pressure on different institutions. it's the same skill set -- building coalitions, inspiring people, marrying story and data. that's the most powerful advocacy. you have data, it just leaves people cold. if they have stories, they want to know where is the rigor and will this work? my only experiences more seamless than you would think
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but having that on the outside for four years, having been in the obama demonstration for eight years, and then as you and ambassador, then to have the experience of watching things happen, where i felt like my response was not satisfied -- satisfying as running a security council argue about something, even if everything is hard, certainly our polarization to mystically is very worrying and some of the challenges we are facing our clouds that i was not aware they were looming in government in the same way i am aware now. at the same time, to be back in the arena and have the chance to
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work with people across the government and an audience like this and be urging people to do this, that ability to see your ideals and activism substantiated in real resources, given to real partners on the front lines is very gratifying. to come in and out is very gratifying for people, to be able to do stints on the outside where you evolve and learn what you believe in what you want to achieve and then bring it. bring it into the institution and try to get it done. katryna: thank you for reminding us that it is the same set of skills. you are just bringing it in different spaces. at this time, i think we would like to open it up to our
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leaders who also represent the partners leading the work on the front line around the world. before we open it up, i went first go to the ceo of mercy corps. >> thank you for laying up that powerful vision. we are very excited to hear about it. one of the challenges that has been brought on by climate change and covid are the increased in natural disasters and increased need to shift funding to humanitarian emergencies. my organization does both humanitarian and development work and we are always going to provide by what is needed. but how do we make sure we continue to invest and increased -- increase investment and long-term development given the
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threats erasing long-term gains and they are key to the partnership and capacity at all the things you have laid out as being key to sustainability? samantha: thank you. i think there are dimensions of our work that are explicitly designed to bring new resources to bear because i live in the world you live in. as we have more climate shock, as we have a historic number of displaced people, more now than at any time since hitler's, the pandemic, on top of all that, you -- the level of food insecurity, famine, you get new conflicts that come online and the number of emergencies that goes up and it's really challenging.
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you are diverting -- there's a risk one diverts more -- providing the fish rather than the fishing rod in the old parable. i worry about that but some of the development we are managing to do an awful lot of core development work and investment for example in domestic research mobilization. we were just doing this with the fragile sudanese government that was just overthrown in a military takeover and we hope will get reversed in the coming days. it needs to get reversed in the coming days. that was a government that was not collecting any tax revenue. at the same time, we have two meet these acute economic
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reforms that cause food prices to go up and we need to do social safety network and emergency and provide wheat to get them through the day, but also making structural investment in providing technical assistance and guidance through the world bank, imf, and others so they are in a position to make the pot bigger, even if they can get back on the transitional democratic path they can -- they were on, they have their work cut out for them. that's the kind of work i'm drawn to and one reason we are emphasizing the private sector peace and the ability to leverage public dollars to secure more in the way of private money. climate change is a great example. there is what the public sector will do and the hundred billion
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dollar finance target that has been announced, but any single country, big emitters like india or south africa, you are talking about trillion dollar needs over time and so it has been encouraging to see the private sector get more drawn to the renewables and clean energy space, but there's less private sector interest so far in the kind of work i was mentioning that we are investing in. lastly, the part you spend a lot of time thinking about, i think what you were getting at, when you provide that emergency assistance, how to do it differently. acknowledging displaced persons are not going to be able to return to their homes. there is not about to be a conflict resolution that is going to make them feel safe
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going back to this community where that community. how do people get to bring their skills to bear and cash assistance is much more common than it would have been. when a hurricane strikes, as occurred in central america, what usaid does, learning from fema and others and fema learning from us, we have more collaboration than we ever have before, but how do you build back better? hurricane mitch costs -- cost sony more lives, and order of magnitude more lives. the hurricanes that occurred last year, same magnitude but far fewer casualties because of the way not just usaid but all of our partners worked with
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communities in central america to build back in different places and in a different way. embedding it into how we do emergency response is key. but thank you for your work. katryna: i would like to pass it off to the executive vice president of global government affairs at citigroup. >> thank you. i represent the business side of the u.s. glc. we, in addition to these partners, we have quite a few not just large businesses, but small businesses that are part of u.s. glc and part of the effort, as you laid out, is to help with education to drive
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some of the activity you are trying to inspire with small businesses. but i would like to ask and throughout an additional comment that as you look at large partners, think about how we can be helpful working with the small partners. there is an existing program at treasury that has been set up that might be useful to take a look at to get some partnerships . as you think about how to use large partners, to help bring on capability and scale up for the small partners that are not going to have that capability. that is something i throw out as you think about your options. samantha: i didn't know about that program and the analogy is intriguing. the statistic i offered showing
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the paucity of local partnerships, it may be a little misleading in the sense we have prime contracting partners who subcontract but what we are looking to now think about is how do we incentivize -- it's different but analogous, how do we incentivize those prime contracting partners and grantees not only to dispense some portion of the work, but do that mentor ship and transfer those skills so the next time around, local organizations are in a position to compete and how do you make this happen in a way where it doesn't feel zero-sum? i think it can feel i'm
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mentoring up my competition. it shouldn't feel that way if we are all setting the same development objectives on the ground. but we will look at that program and if you have more ideas, i would love to hear them. katryna: we are running out of time, but we have time for two questions. if you have a question, raise your hand and someone with the microphone will come to you. please keep them brief for the sake of time. >> thank you so much for coming to speak with us today. i really admire your work. the question i have for you pertains to the overarching mission of usaid. one of the challenges i read in your "foreign affairs" piece is a way america can get back on track after four years of
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lackluster leadership is by restoring competence -- restoring confidence. critics of usaid might say it's hard for america to lecture other countries on things like democracy when we have voter suppression at home and hard for us to support inclusive development when we ourselves have a past and present of racial inequity. one question i have for you is how do we avoid that hypocrisy and how do we promote our values when we ourselves have not lived up to those values? samantha: it's a great question. to say the obvious, with great and demonstrated humility. with candor, naming the elephant in the room, but there are some who would say what's going on
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domestically or has gone on to mystically is inherently disqualifying. for them or for that argument, i would ask them to go out and talk to the partners we are supporting. because in many cases, we are all they have. this defamation fund, if they can access those resources, that's the difference between being able to write this story told the corrupt mayor or police chief accountable or not, potentially. in the field of global health, that is an easy 1 -- george w. bush's creation that has saved tens of millions of lives. kids who have not been orphaned because of this work.
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this equity focus also is the product of the movements here at home that have offered a wake-up call. you might say we have had wake-up calls over the years, how may times do you have to have wake-up calls? the extent -- this is not going to change overnight, but in our approach internationally that we are not in at the structural level. that has been a critique for some time and it's a very fair critique. how to keep our partners afloat and keep their program going, which is maybe saving lives were strengthening the rule of law or holding bad actors accountable,
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how to keep that going and at the same time, make room for a deeper understanding, bringing in a recognition about systemic injustices and challenges, bringing that perspective to the way we partner. that's part of what i have -- part of what i'm trying to get out here. the answer can't be don't support people in their protracted hour of need with -- the omissions came from us -- the answer has to be how to do it differently. and to follow the lead of people who want nothing more than not
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to have to work with usaid in the future. fundamentally, we have to be part of that shared objective, which my predecessor called self-reliance, dignity, agency, and hearing that, respecting that and programming around that is what we want to do. we talk about it, our challenges, people bring them up. people say have you tried this? we have a lot in common on voter suppression and misinformation. rejected results of elections. katryna: we will take one more
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question. >> thank you. in the -- state and usaid have been forced to operate out of fortress embassies. how do you see usaid working around the security conditions to make sure our partners can still see human faces? samantha: thank you. i know secretary blinken has addressed this recently and recognizing the importance of u.s. diplomats being out and about looking for ways to ensure that happens. i didn't say this in the speech but if you haven't read president biden's u.n. general assembly speech, it's a powerful call to move from this air that he called relentless war to
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relentless diplomacy and defense. but that requires addressing the premise of your question in the diplomatic and development realms. where i would start is just to underscore a point i made in the speech about the particular nature of usaid's workforce internationally and how central our locally employed staff are to our work. more than 4500 of our 10,000 person workforce are foreign nationals. in guatemala, that's watermelons. in vietnam, it's vietnamese. with covid, people in different places aren't even working at the embassy, but even if they are working at an embassy that is post-benghazi, less
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accessible that once was, there going home, they are in the communities, they are eyes and ears. that's an advantage usaid has retained, the line with this talent and expertise. some of these individuals are working administrative roles, but they are often phd's and land-use and microbiology, long time technocrats on elections and how they should be managed. there is real expertise and that ability of living in the communities and living -- getting out and about, for them come also to be ambassadors for this agenda will be very important. loosening these strictures and
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being in a position for all of our staff to be out and about, the empowerment and elevation of those perspectives will be very helpful in this regard. >> we could go on all day and i would love to do that, but administrator powell needs to be up on capitol hill very soon, so we to bring this to a close. i want to thank her for joining us. [applause] when i was there, we were usaid forward. if this sounds like usaid way forward. i want to thank everyone in the audience who is with us alive. those that are live streaming, thank you for joining us. those in the overflow room,
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thank you for joining us. i want to thank joel and his team who pulled this off and everyone who has done so much work to pull us together. all of the fellows, everything you have done, [applause] finally, all of the students that are here today. you represent the future and i want to thank you for your commitment, your and her g, for correcting me every time i'm wrong, which is often, and i look forward in the coming years to how we can all work together to make the world a better place. thank you for joining a. [applause] [captioning performed by the
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