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Diplomacy in Action

How the Private Sector Fits with the Administrations Foreign Policy Agenda


Remarks
Elizabeth Frawley Bagley
Special Representative, Global Partnership Initiative
BCLC Global Corporate Citizenship Conference
Washington, DC
October 1, 2009

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A special thank you to Steven Jordan for putting together this important conference, and I’d like to say a word of thanks to my fellow panelists, Tim, Silvia, and Pamela, for the pioneering work that KPMG, Chevron, and Microsoft have all done in corporate social responsibility and sustainable business practices. The theme for this discussion is “How the Private Sector

Date: 07/17/2009 Description: youtube © USUN Image

Fits with the Administration’s Foreign Policy Agenda,” and it could not be more timely as we extend CSR efforts into a new Era of Partnerships based on our core competencies.

I would like to begin my remarks with what President Obama said last week at the Clinton Global Initiative about the challenges we face: “just as no nation can wall itself off from the world, no one nation -- no matter how large, no matter how powerful -- can meet these challenges alone. Nor can governments alone. Today's threats demand new partnerships across sectors and across societies -- creative collaborations to achieve what no one can accomplish alone. In short, we need a new spirit of global partnership.”

In an era of globalization, the world is facing unprecedented environmental, social, and economic challenges. Globalization is like the sharpest double-edged sword, which can turn against you in an instant. A case of the flu that starts in Indonesia can quickly spread around the world as a pandemic that paralyzes workforces in England. The shots ringing out in Mumbai or the bombs going off in Madrid are immediately broadcast on 24 hour news networks and can undermine our sense of security everywhere. We all know globalization’s threats; they make us realize “the fierce urgency of now,” to use Martin Luther King’s phrase.

In terms of the global economy, the uncertainty surrounding our financial markets still impacts every single financial transaction, and, hence, all economies around the world. And yet we are still not doing enough to take into account all of the business risks that come with a world marked by the perils of climate change, food security concerns, and a host of other impending threats.

Incremental approaches that do not mobilize business drivers to solve the world’s problems will simply treat the symptoms rather than the root causes. We often see this when corporate social responsibility is seen as good PR and is relegated to the margins. We must take a level-headed look at the scope of the challenges and risks we are facing and then measure our response accordingly.

The global economic crisis has taught us hard lessons. We realize that long-term global economic growth requires the fostering of strong, stable societies supported by good governance, accountability, transparency, and rule of law. But we also now realize that it also requires businesses to maintain higher standards for long-term performance rather than short-term gains. We have a shared responsibility towards the communities in which we are investing. And we must work together, using the core competencies of your businesses and the influence of the American government to work together on these shared concerns.

When Secretary Clinton spoke at the Global Philanthropy Forum on April 22 and announced the creation of the Global Partnership Initiative, she stated that “it’s absolutely essential that we recognize our interconnectedness as we grapple with the difficult challenges sweeping the planet… The problems we face today will not be solved by governments alone. It will be in partnerships – partnerships with philanthropy, with global business, with civil society.”

The Secretary has placed the Global Partnership Initiative at the highest level of the State Department; and she has given me the authority to meet on her behalf with CEOs, philanthropists, and leaders from NGOs, academia, religious communities, and Diaspora groups. Our goal is simple: across the Department, we will take a new approach to 21st century statecraft so that partnering with the organizations like yours will become a core part of how the State Department does business.

I believe that the direction globalization takes in the years to come will largely depend on the decisions made by people in this room and leaders like you all over the world. And I think that requires some smart strategies about how governments and corporations can work together towards more successful, sustainable, and equitable business, and thus a better world for all of us.

Now, this is not just about the obstacles we are facing. We also realize the new opportunities that have emerged as a result of the paradigm shifts created by globalization. In the 1960s, nearly 70% of all money flowing from the United States to the developing world was official development assistance; today, over 80% is from private sources.

Harnessing the wealth of capabilities offered by civil society and the private sector has become both an opportunity and a necessity in order to succeed with the full range of priorities and challenges that we face at the Department of State. Likewise, from the business perspective, you know what it means when you invest your time and resources in hard-working, committed employees in Nairobi, Cairo, or Jakarta, only to learn that your workforce is suffering from the worst of the globe’s health crises like HIV/AIDS, TB, or Malaria.

You know what it means to have markets suffer when societies become embroiled in conflict. You know that empowering women is also good for business and that as microfinance empowers millions of women across Africa and Asia, their prosperity can mean new markets. You also know that in many ways, the future market for your products is not California, it is China. You will grow your consumer base in India more than in Indiana. Their prosperity can be your prosperity and we can all share in the rewards of doing good while doing well.

I am confident that this spirit of cross-sector partnership can create a better type of globalization, one which empowers people and invests in human capital as a humanitarian imperative and a driver of economic vitality – one which will advance America’s foreign policy and commercial diplomacy while creating prosperity and opportunity for people everywhere.

Just last week at the Clinton Global Initiative, we announced two partnerships that are helping to lead the way towards a better type of globalization. In a new partnership with PEPFAR and USAID, General Mills will be using their core competencies to build the capacity of small enterprises and expand production of food for people living with HIV/AIDS in Tanzania. Another Commitment to Action by USAID, Rockefeller Foundation, the Global Impact Investing Network, and JP Morgan Chase will support the development of a set of global impact investing standards. These shared metrics are just the start of our efforts to develop impact investing strategies that will ensure sustainable, responsible, and long-term growth.

If you are willing to work as partners on shared concerns – if you realize that responsible business means good business and that partnerships can foster economic growth and long-term prosperity for all of us – then we look forward to acting as a convener, a catalyst, and a collaborator on your behalf.

A few months ago, Secretary Clinton said in Brussels that we should “Never waste a good crisis.” I hope that when we consider all of the dangers of this global age, we will do just that: as we seek global economic recovery and growth, as we pursue new policies to bolster energy security and sustainability, and finally, as we work together to develop innovative approaches to investment that can invigorate new markets and create opportunity for people of all nations.



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