Dr. Rajiv Shah led the efforts of nearly 10,000 staff in more than 70 countries around the world to advance USAID’s mission of ending extreme poverty and promoting resilient, democratic societies.
Under Dr. Shah’s leadership, USAID applied innovative technologies and engaged the private sector to solve the world’s most intractable development challenges. This new model of development brings together an increasingly diverse community—from large companies to local civil society groups to communities of faith—to deliver meaningful results.
Dr. Shah led President Obama’s landmark Feed the Future and Power Africa initiatives and has refocused America’s global health partnerships to end preventable child death. Feed the Future, alone, has improved nutrition for 12 million children and empowered more than 7 million farmers with climate-smart tools they need to grow their way out of extreme poverty. In April 2014, USAID launched the U.S. Global Development Lab to harness the expertise of the world’s brightest scientists, students, and entrepreneurs. At the same time, the newly formed Private Capital Group for Development forges a more strategic relationship between private capital and development.
Dr. Shah also managed the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response to catastrophic crises around the world, from the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
Through an extensive set of reforms called “USAID Forward,” Dr. Shah worked with the United States Congress to transform USAID into the world’s premier development Agency that prioritizes public-private partnerships, innovation, and meaningful results. He currently serves on the boards of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, as well as participates on the National Security Council.
Previously, Dr. Shah served as Undersecretary and Chief Scientist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he created the National Institute for Food and Agriculture. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, he spent eight years at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he led efforts in global health, agriculture, and financial services, including the creation of the International Finance Facility for Immunization.
He is a graduate of the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, and the Wharton School of Business. He regularly appears in the media and has delivered keynote addresses before the U.S. Military Academy, the National Prayer Breakfast, and diverse audiences across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Dr. Shah was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He has served as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, been named to Fortune’s 40 Under 40, and has received multiple honorary degrees.
He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife Shivam Mallick Shah and three children and has given up mountain climbing for family bicycle rides.
While 92% of the Philippine population had access to an improved source of drinking water in 2010, 15.7 million Filipinos are still without access. This shortfall has serious impacts on economic growth, health and the overall development of the country. There are several reasons for inadequate water supply services, including low levels of investment; poverty linked to an inability to afford services; and policy, regulatory and financing barriers.
We know that in the critical window of a 1,000 days, we can provide the nutrition so children have the basic immune strength to protect themselves from simple diseases against which they would otherwise die, and we know that simply trying to address diseases without also making sure these children are well nourished simply won’t achieve the outcome we seek. And we know that healthy behavior such as the one being promoted in this photograph are essential to success, even if we have enough resources for the commodities, the drugs, the diagnostics that are often what we talk about in price. It’s ultimately the way people behave that determines whether or not our goal, our shared aspiration of ending child death, is actually possible.
As President Obama has said, the interests of the United States align squarely with the desires of the Ukrainian people—and we remain a committed partner as you weather this crisis and build a new future. It will take ingenuity. It will take focus.
But most importantly, it will take the courage to confront a deeply corrosive system that has embedded corruption into the fabric of Ukrainian society. From the massive impunity of the nation’s previous regime to the kind of petty bribery that supplements a civil servant’s meager salary, corruption has become a way of life.
USAID is committed to inclusive development, not only as an issue of human rights, but also because discrimination and exclusionary laws contribute to poverty. We cannot have inclusive development if LGBT populations are excluded. Their active participation is necessary for our success.
Some of the challenges we face, but also the progress we’ve made in getting important reforms through the Congress of our food aid and assistance programs, are starting to create a new and stronger American ethic around our collective responsibility to genuinely lead on the issue of ending hunger and creating food security.
We all know and you’ve heard earlier today that by 2050, the world will need to feed 9 to 10 billion people and will need to do it by driving productivity improvements—in particular, in places where productivity has been relatively low—and by bringing online much of the commercial potential of food production in places like sub-Saharan Africa, South and Central Asia, where there is still great gains to be made.
Hamjambo mabibi na mabwana. Good afternoon and thank you for inviting me to launch this important project with you. Today we celebrate another achievement that will bring water and sanitation to more Kenyans, and that is truly something to celebrate.
Thank you to the UNWTO and the Department of Tourism (DOT) for inviting me to this conference to talk about climate change response from an international perspective, specifically how we can build sustainable tourist destinations that are resilient to environmental threats and climate change impacts. I commend the organizers for engaging development partners, public and private sectors to make economic growth more broad-based and inclusive in the Philippines. Allow me to share USAID’s perspective as a development partner that recognizes the need for protecting the country’s environmental and natural resources in order to promote an agenda of economic growth.
We have an exceptional mission, and we do pursue it with some exceptional people. But 842 million people—the great majority of whom are children—will still go to sleep hungry tonight. Over the next three days, as you share experiences and ideas, I encourage you to ask yourself and each other: are we transforming fast enough against our aspirations?
As this impressive report shows, there is no question we have the tools: massive capital, cutting-edge innovations, high-impact partnerships and—perhaps most importantly—unprecedented presidential and bipartisan leadership. The rest is up to us—the leaders in this room and in cities around the world. I look forward to carrying forward this conversation with you over the next three days.
On behalf of the American people and the U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development, allow me to extend our sincere appreciation for inviting us to participate in today’s celebration of the Persons with Disabilities Day. I am honored to be among leaders from the government, private sector, and the PWD community, who are championing the rights and welfare of persons with disabilities.
If we are going to end extreme poverty by 2030, it will be your generation that takes it across the finish line. This is your moonshot. And we need you to lead. Those of you who become ministers in your governments will need to prioritize the poor, fight corruption, and demand tough reforms. Those of you who join the Foreign Service at State or USAID will need to focus relentlessly on data, accountability, and results. Those of you who will become business leaders will need to take risks to deliver solutions not only for the urban middle class, but poor, rural communities. But all of you—and this is harder than it sounds—will have to stay connected to the spirit of compassion and service that is so evident on campus this weekend.
Last updated: March 26, 2015