Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman Delivers Keynote at the Council of International Development Companies Development Conference

Speeches Shim

Monday, November 14, 2022
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Remarks

DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR COLEMAN: Good afternoon. Thank you Tine for that introduction, and for your leadership and management of the important work that we carry out alongside so many of the partners in this room.

I also want to thank David Berteau and Paul Foldi for the invitation to speak to you, and for their leadership of the Professional Services Council.

We have many in this community to thank for advocating for a localized model of development that nurtures sustainability and prioritizes the perspectives and preferences of the people we serve.

As you’ll hear from me and other leaders from USAID, we are taking these objectives seriously – with real targets, dedicated funding like our Centroamerica Locale initiative and a new Africa Localization Initiative, and new strategies for Acquisition and Assistance, risk appetite, and local capacity strengthening.

We appreciate that there’s a role for all of us in advancing these goals.

I want to touch on two areas of great importance in the development community related to our goals of increased engagement with local actors.

First, the urgency of the climate crisis.

Second, and not unrelated, the war in Ukraine and the ripple effects across markets and on drivers of the global economy, such as fuel and agricultural commodities.

The impacts of a changing climate are no longer theoretical. Development gains are no longer just threatened; they are being flooded, dried out, or wiped away by a rising number of catastrophic weather events.

Monsoons and rainfall, not seen for a hundred years, triggered the most severe flooding in Pakistan’s history. Damage was estimated to be $12 billion, a number that includes nearly two million homes, 4.5 million acres of farmland, nearly 6,600 kilometers of roads, and nearly 19,000 schools.

The food crisis also finds its roots in climate change, which has shifted rainfall patterns and dried out or inundated soils and plants.

And, as we’ve seen across the Horn of Africa, the regions most prone to drought are also the ones least prepared to withstand it.

Just last week, President Biden arrived at COP27 with hard-won commitments to combat climate change, including a historic $368 billion investment through the Inflation Reduction Act.

As the President announced, this Administration’s efforts to drive progress on climate puts us on track to achieve our Paris Agreement goal of reducing emissions below 2005 levels by 2030.

But, climate change is not going anywhere and we need to do more than cut emissions.

Which is why President Biden has committed to work with Congress to invest $3 billion a year in an Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience, PREPARE, bringing together all the tools of the U.S. government to help more than half-a-billion people adapt and manage the impacts of climate change.

The investments through PREPARE will help countries establish early warning systems that can save lives during natural disasters and harness climate data to boost crop yields.

They will help our country partners develop plans for how they can adapt to climate change, with local communities leading the way.

For instance, one of the most effective ways to fight climate change is by limiting deforestation, particularly in the Amazon. But that requires close partnership with the indigenous populations who live there, and making sure they can build livelihoods that don’t sacrifice their environment.

In Peru, for example, illegal logging pilfers precious resources, much from acknowledged Indigenous lands. In partnership with Tetra Tech, we’ve initiated the Pro-Bosques Activity, which works with stakeholders to strengthen Peruvian forest governance.

Critically, the project engages indigenous communities to grow their participation in combating illegal foresting and to increase the Indigenous community’s stake in the forest value chain.

Beyond the natural hazards facing our most vulnerable partner countries, a war in Europe has strained markets for energy, fertilizers, and labor. Not only has Putin’s war driven up prices for the world’s most basic needs, it has also accelerated the likelihood of further conflict, famine, and starvation.

Such a grim outlook needs an incredible force of public, private, and local partnership to measure up. We need to bring more resources to bear to equip local partners with the tools they need to see results that outlast contracts – such as in Ukraine, where USAID is helping to bolster Ukrainian agricultural production and exports to help alleviate the food security crisis exacerbated by the war.

In July, USAID announced a new $100 million dollar Agricultural Resilience Initiative called Agri-Ukraine, which is helping farmers plant, harvest, store, and transport more grain.

The prime recipient Chemonics is working with their sub-awardee, the Ukrainian Agrarian Council to map damage to crop fields and provide grain storage for 1.7 million metric tons of grain. They even helped reestablish a local baker after he was forced to relocate.

As those efforts show, we need all of you to help build capacity in communities, industries, civil society, and governments to deliver meaningful and equitable welfare gains.

Our localization agenda is not a siloed initiative, but a way of doing business that informs how we respond to all of our work. As we respond to these priorities, we do so through a lens of locally-led development.

Many of you already know what these local partnerships look like. And you heard last year from Administrator Power about the targets we’ve set to put local actors in charge of their own futures.

What I want to impart today is that we need your support and partnership and innovation to help us reach our goals – specifically our Local Voices target, meaning half of every dollar we spend puts local communities in the lead on projects that impact their futures.

As USAID’s traditional implementing partners, you’re in a position to help us put local organizations in the lead, give them the space and resources needed to grow, and empower them to exercise their own leadership.

That’s the model of development that we’re pursuing because it’s how we can achieve sustainable results.

It’s a model informed by conversations with many of you, and I hope we can continue to rely on your feedback and support.

Thank you, and I look forward to our discussion.

Last updated: December 06, 2022

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