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Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley Talks About Partnership with Private Sector

  • Douglas Schuette

Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley Talks About Partnership with Private Sector

Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley Talks About Partnership with Private Sector

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Strategic partnerships involving both governments and the private sector are the key to prosperity in today’s “more globalized, more dangerous” world, says Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley, appointed in June as the first Special Representative for the U.S. Department of State’s Global Partnership Initiative.

During the 1960’s and 1970’s, analysts estimate that about 70-80 % of official foreign assistance came from governments. Ambassador Bagley notes that this percentage has now “totally flipped,” with over 80 % coming from the private sector, making public-private partnerships invaluable. As a result, Ambassador Bagley believes that looking at the world through developing partnerships is a “new paradigm” from which governments and private actors of all kinds stand to gain.

Ambassador Bagley, who previously served as a senior advisor to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and as the U.S. Ambassador to Portugal during the Clinton Administration, recently spoke with Carol Castiel, host of VOA’s Press Conference USA. Niharika Acharya, managing editor for VOA’s Hindi TV and Navbahor Imamova, a broadcaster in VOA's Uzbek Service joined Carol on the panel.

According to Ambassador Bagley, the Global Partnership Initiative’s broad array of priorities includes Muslim engagement, nuclear non-proliferation, global economic recovery, climate change, democracy, human rights, food security and water development, engaging diaspora communities and global health.

Bagley cites the American Embassy in Kenya’s close association with the Partnership for an HIV-Free Generation, a coalition of about 20 NGOs, corporations, and foundations, as a model of innovative partnership. She says the collaboration has been instrumental in lowering transmission of HIV/AIDS from mother to child in Kenya, and will serve as a model for future partnerships dealing with global health.

The Global Partnership Initiative is also actively engaging the immigrant, or diaspora, communities in the United States. The remittances—money earned by such communities and sent back to home countries—constitutes 26 % of private sector aid. As a result, Bagley says greater engagement with these communities is crucial to the Global Partnership Initiative’s mission. Not coincidentally, Ambassador Bagley’s staff is in the early stages of planning a conference to bring together various U.S. diaspora communities to learn lessons from one another about “best practices” and effective coordination with home countries.

The Global Partnership Initiative has already facilitated the creation of a non-profit US-Pakistan foundation, which Ambassador Bagley says is raising money in the United States for various projects to be undertaken in Pakistan.

But the Global Partnership Initiative has also faced challenges as it ramps up activities. Funding, says Ambassador Bagley, whether it comes from USAID, corporations, NGOs, or foreign governments where “either bureaucratic red tape or the inherent problem of corruption” can hinder efforts, is not always readily available.

Nonetheless, Ambassador Bagley says businesses have been very receptive to the Initiative thus far. “I think businesses know that they need government ... and government knows that they need businesses, and it’s kind of a symbiotic relationship where we all know that … nobody can do it alone.”

To listen to the full interview click here.