Tuesday, September 20, 2022

New York, New York


ADMINISTRATOR POWER: We are referring to this as the Inspiration Summit, because this is a room filled with prospects for reform and filled with hope. Each of the countries that we have with us gathered, have inspired us, have inspired President Biden, with their determination to push ahead and try to create a freer, more just, and more equal society in their own nation. Often, they are pushing against strong headwinds against really difficult legacies and inheritances.

We know some combination of patience and impatience is required, both on behalf of the leadership and the people in the countries represented here. But already, the leaders gathered have repealed laws that have been designed to punish opponents. They have pursued cases against corrupt officials, and helped return resources to their people. And they have initiated reforms designed to spur their economies and, again, build more just societies. Together, and you see this powerful cross regional representation, they have demonstrated that despite all the gloomy headlines that we are each inundated with every day, and some very worrying trend lines globally, citizens everywhere still crave governments that respect their rights, are responsive to their voices and keep their hands out of other people's pockets. That's kind of basic. As we in the United States know so well, of course, based on our own experience, it is not enough to win elections based on promises to fight corruption and strengthen democracy, we have to deliver real results for our people. Democracy must deliver. That is something President Biden, Secretary Blinken, DFC head Scott Nathan, I  – we stress all the time. And rather than simply promote democracy the way we always do, through election support or investments in independent media – very, very important investments, though those are –  those who believe in free societies and free markets need to help your citizens, the citizens of the countries gathered here, feel the difference that democracy and reform can make in their lives day to day. We need to help you diversify your economies or form new trade relationships, create jobs or deliver better healthcare, tackle inequality and provide reliable public services. And that's why we convened everyone here today. Unlike your typical democracy event at the UN General Assembly, we have foundation heads, we have business leaders, we have leaders like our perennial ally, Liz Schreyer of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, who hustles everyone there is, in support of worthy causes, and the chairman of the U.S. Development Finance Corporation Scott Nathan, leaders whose investments and support can help unlock growth and demonstrate tangible progress that builds on the reforms that you are trying to deliver for your people. They also happen to be leaders with deep expertise in economic growth and development. And they happen to be citizens who believe deeply in democracy and the shared prosperity it can deliver. 

And to kick off what I know will be a fascinating and productive conversation, we have none other than the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who has worked with President Biden in championing these issues for his entire career, for Senator Biden, then President Biden, and he is, of course, engaged in the diplomatic speed dating that many of you are engaged in. So we are very fortunate, very grateful Mr. Secretary, that you are here as a lifelong champion of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, as a friend to any leader who prizes the welfare of their own people over their power and the perpetuation of that power. And it is again on the basis of that CV rather than the CV with which you are perhaps more familiar. It is on that basis that the Secretary has chosen to be with us today, but more than that – that he and his diplomacy every day is trying to steer attention, resources, to the bright spots to those of you who are seeking to deliver tangibly for your people. So with that, Mr. Secretary, thank you for joining us and thank you for your leadership day to day on this important cause.

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. Well, good afternoon everyone and let me first say that I’m really tempted to say, “what she said” and we can call it a day, and that’s usually the case. Because, yes, we are here and I’m here to bask in a little of this inspiration that we are seeing around this table. But a lot of that inspiration for me starts with a now more than decades long friendship, and admirership, if that’s a word, of Sam and everything she has inspired so many of us to do, over so many years – with this relentless focus on democracy, on human rights, on combating humanity’s worst – and beating it with humanity’s best. 

It’s always great to be partnered with my friend, my colleague of many years and to be with all of you. I’m really grateful for this remarkable turnout of leaders and colleagues, both across governments, but also across organizations and as Sam said, really across regions and across the world. And yes, usually the events we have on the future of democracy tend to focus on the challenges and the concerning trends. And they are real, they are deep, they are serious, and I know for all of us they are a profound preoccupation. We, and that “we” includes governments, NGOs, multilateral institutions, businesses, and others who are committed to democracy and renewal. And in its spread, we do have a tendency sometimes to overlook the flipside of the coin. The people all around the globe who, as Sam said, are demanding democracy, demanding human rights, demanding accountable government, and who routinely come out to the polls – or sometimes into the streets – to reject corruption, to reject repression, to reject authoritarianism. And in this room, around this table, we see the results of many such movements – inspiring leaders who rode waves of popular support for democracy and anti-corruption into office – but who now need to prove, as Sam said, that their reform agendas can actually deliver tangible benefits for the people that they represent. That really is the task before us. It’s what President Biden has been focused on and talking about certainly since he became President, but I’ve heard him focus on it for a long time before that. And the good news is this – we are seeing, you are seeing democracy actually delivering for people in your countries. And I think we have a huge opportunity now to support these efforts to support your efforts and to help ensure their sustained success at a time when I know many of you are facing very considerable headwinds. 

So today, I know we get an opportunity to hear from some of the leading reformers about just how we can actually do that. Governments have a key role to play. At last December's Summit for Democracy, President Biden announced the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal. We've committed about $425 million to follow through on the commitments that were made, about $55 million of that funding, in the first year, is going to USAID’s partnerships for democratic development, which will provide flexible multi-year support and the multi-year support, is important for countries pursuing democratic openings, like the ones participating in today's event. But government is necessary, but it is not sufficient. We need others to step up with us, including the private sector, which has an abiding stake in fostering stronger democracies. Transparency, anti-corruption, rule of law – all of these, you know this, create a more level playing field for businesses to compete. Countries that respect human rights and labor rights tend to be more stable and more reliable partners, especially in a crisis, as we've experienced through COVID-19.

The private sector in turn has extraordinary expertise in many of the areas where emerging democracies need the most support. And we'll hear about some of those today. Like Vodafone's efforts to improve maternal health in Tanzania. I'm sure that others in this room around this table will have ideas of where to pitch in. We're eager to hear them. We're also eager, where we can, to help you act on them. And I've seen this time and time again. And it's also incredibly inspiring. We see the practical results when we can build public-private partnerships in actually making progress, in actually making a difference in people's lives. Now, one way that we're able to do that in the government is through a Development Finance Corporation, which partners with the private sector to lower the risk of investment in developing countries, including all the democracies represented here today. And Scott, thank you so much for being with us today. But thank you for what you're doing every single day. I have to say from my perspective, one of the most important tools that we have in the United States Government on this agenda is the DFC and I'm very proud that we're working together so closely. 

Today, though, is more than just providing support. We're also here to learn. We're here to learn from everyone around the table. We're here to adapt. We're here to try to share and spread best practices because another thing that I've learned in many years of doing this is that no one has a monopoly on ideas, never mind good ideas. No one has a monopoly on best practices. Somewhere, someplace around the world, for just about any problem work and funding, someone's probably figured it out. But if we don't share that information, if we don't share those best practices, then we're constantly reinventing the wheel and the power of bringing so many people together who are focused on different aspects of this challenge is that I will bet that for just about anything we have to deal with, someone has found a good idea or a good solution. So, we want to be sharing them today. Ultimately, the challenges that many are facing are simply not that different from the ones facing democracies all over the world. Let me just quickly cite one that I know is at the top of just about everyone's agenda – corruption. That is estimated now to cost up to 5% of global GDP and we all know this, but corruption discourages investment, it stifles competition, deepens inequities, and maybe most damaging for democracies, it erodes public trust in government institutions. And that, that is the most corrosive thing of all. It also greases the wheels of foreign interference, disinformation, transnational repression, and other actions that authoritarian governments take to try to weaken democracy. 

Every country here today is taking meaningful steps to address the scourge. The Dominican Republic passed new legislation that allows the government to seize assets gained through illicit activities and invest them in the Dominican people. Ecuador created the country's first ever specialized court tackling corruption and organized crime. Armenia’s Corruption Prevention Commission conducted integrity checks on 261 candidates for judges and prosecutors in the first half of 2022, looking for conflicts of interest and other issues that could actually undermine their independence. These are real practical ways of dealing with the challenge of corruption. Now, much of this democratic renewal is actually being driven from the bottom up. In Zambia, where last year, more youth, women, first time voters turned out than at any time in the country's history and brought new leaders to office who are already making positive change, from expanding human rights protections to reducing the country's crushing debt. And Moldova, where massive voter turnout – to power a reform government that ran on a platform of transparency, anti-corruption and judicial independence – brought that government to office and I have to say my own admiration for you, Madam President and all of your colleagues is boundless. You have an extraordinary challenge under the most difficult circumstances but know that the United States is and will remain strongly your partner in everything that you're doing.

Of all the reasons to be optimistic about this progress. The enthusiasm of citizens may be the most inspiring, and ultimately, the most consequential because when people in other parts of the world, including in closed societies, see citizens holding their leaders to account, when they see government actually working to solve problems that people are confronting in their daily lives, then they too begin yearning for a more free, a more open a more accountable government, in their own countries. And that's the kind of virus that we'd like to see spread. It's a good one, a powerful one, one that can make a huge difference. Bottom line is this, I think more than ever before. The fate of our democracies are intertwined, interconnected. The more vibrant, resilient democracies that we can foster by our side the more we will be able to do what we're all here to do, which is to deliver for our people, for our fellow citizens. That's the mission, that's the objective and we are grateful to be able to work with so many who are trying to do just that. Thank you.

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Thank you so much, Mr. Secretary for such a powerful start. As Secretary Blinken mentioned, democracy is contagious. The more progress a democracy is able to demonstrate, the more people it can inspire both within your own countries and then of course throughout the world. One of the countries joining us here today, Tanzania, represented by Vice President Philip Mpongo, has demonstrated important progress in relatively short order under its first woman president, something also true of Moldova, Samia Suluhu Hassan. Tanzania has expanded media freedom, engaged with civil society as the president commits to broader reforms, and kicked their COVID-19 vaccination campaign into overdrive. I've never seen a quicker road to 60 percent vaccination – basically at under 10 percent in June up to 60 percent today. Phenomenal. That ability to rapidly scale improvements in global health is the key to an exciting announcement that we're about to hear from Vodafone's chief external and corporate affairs officer, Joakim Reiter. He is joining us here today to share his company's commitment to support maternal health in Tanzania along with USAID’s support. His remarks hopefully will be followed by Vice President Mpongo who will share more about this country on the move and we're hoping that this announcement, just as proof of concept, will inspire many of the private sector leaders to think about the kinds of partnerships that they can initiate with the countries represented here. So over to you Joakim.

REITER: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, Administrator Power, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. Obviously, I'm delighted to be here representing Vodafone Group, as well as Vodafone Foundation, as we shine a light on how democracy delivers and delivers on the pressing needs of the citizens. For us, I would like to talk on this occasion about M-Mama, but also about partnership, patience, capital, as well as political will. As we all know, in far too many countries today, rates of maternal mortality remain stubbornly high, health facilities are overstretched, and ambulances are very rarely available. Improving emergency transport for pregnant mothers is critical to tackle this human tragedy. And M-Mama can be part of the solution. Using basic mobile phones, mobile money, and a community of trained drivers, this innovative yet simple solution has transported over 15,000 women and newborns in Tanzania and Lesotho. I'm immensely proud. According to conservative estimates, M-mama has already saved 300 lives and reduced maternal mortality by some 30%. 

As I said, there are three essential ingredients that I would like to share in terms of our experience and our best practices behind its success. First, M-Mama is about true partnerships and M-mama is the result of long-term collaboration between Vodafone Foundation, USAID and the Government of Tanzania. It began, actually at the suggestion of USAID, in a single rural region in Tanzania. Vodafone and Vodafone Foundation were delighted to contribute. We, of course, bring connectivity, but also the transformational power of mobile money as well as philanthropic funding. 

Secondly, M-Mama is about patient capital. Vodafone Foundation, with USAID's support, provided patient capital to pay for the careful development of this system together with regional government leaders. The solution in the original region is now entirely sustained by the local transportation budget. Looking at a national scale for Tanzania, once created, we estimate that the running costs would only be 2 million US dollars. But it takes time to build scalable, sustainable and affordable solutions. And the patient capital of USAID was critical to M-mama. 

Thirdly, M-Mama is about political will. The innovation that businesses like ours can bring is insufficient without the vision and decisive actions from dynamic political leaders endorsing democratic principles. In this regard, we are deeply indebted to Her Excellency, the President of Tanzania, and to the Honorable Vice President Philip Mpango. In April, Her Excellency, the President, launched M-Mama, but she also challenged us all as partners. She wanted to go beyond our original intent of covering 50 percent of the territory to deliver a nationwide rollout. We are actually immensely grateful for her courage, strong support, leadership, but also her challenge to us.

And today I'm delighted to announce that Vodafone, through its foundation, is taking up the challenge that Her Excellency, the President has given to us. To confirm, together we are committing an additional $15 million to expand M-Mama in Tanzania and beyond. We are committed to assisting the government of Tanzania in delivering the President's vision for the life-saving M-Mama emergency services to be operational in every region by the end of 2023. The work on the ground has already begun and it's on track, using M-PESA where possible as the payment. This is in addition to the commitment already made in Lesotho where we're partnering with the government and will reach 100% of the country by next month. 

Lastly, we look forward to expanding M-Mama beyond these two countries. Today I can announce that working with our colleagues, we have jointly committed funds that will enable us to offer development of M-Mama to the Government of Kenya. Now, to conclude, none of this would have been possible without partnership, patient capital, and true political will. We are truly proud of the collaboration with USAID and the U.S. government, and we look forward to continuing working with USAID to create more partnerships and solutions with governments across Vodafone's footprint – but also beyond – in whatever way we can contribute. This is part of our social contract and our commitment to support visionary leaders. Thank you very much.

ADMINISTRATOR POWER: Thank you so much Joakim. Vice President Mpango, we were expecting him, but we will move forward. I just want to share something about this partnership. 

First of all, we will join – now that Vodafone has made its announcement – USAID will contribute an additional $5 million to help the Tanzanian government scale this program. It's also a reminder of all that lies in store for us with the power of technology. Because the fact that we were able to ascertain that ambulances would not soon be available at scale for vulnerable pregnant women allowed us to recognize together – the Tanzanians above all – the taxi drivers, the equivalent of Uber drivers for women who needed to get to the hospital with the proper distribution network, could be made available. 

That's basically the essence of what this program is. It's not the most sophisticated concept, but it is life-saving for women as we seek to scale up emergency services working in support of host governments. So, we sometimes need these in-between solutions, and it may prove to be more efficient over time as well. There's no reason to think in other places where we face maternal mortality, that these kinds of solutions couldn't be made available as well. So, it's a very, very, very exciting initiative. 

So now, let us turn from one country with its first ever female president to another – seeing a trend here fellas. Since taking office in November of 2020 on a platform of reform and fighting corruption, President Sandhu has prioritized restoring the Moldovan public's faith in its political and judicial systems, fought corruption, and pursued economic reforms. Just recently, Moldova was awarded EU candidate status, a show of solidarity to the country that is sheltering more Ukrainian refugees per capita than any other. If all that weren't enough, President Sandhu also happens to be my daughter's personal hero. A testament to the fact that girls can do anything. So please welcome President Sandhu.


USAID at UNGA 2022

Samantha Power Secretary Blinken UNGA 2022 Bright Spots Democracy Delivers
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