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.
Fostering an open and diverse scientific community that draws from an array of unique experiences and viewpoints is a necessary step to realizing development goals. Young men and young women may innovate differently. But by bringing together varying points of view, Vietnam can build a stronger foundation around which industry can build. Unfortunately, whether in education or the workplace, the proportion of women in STEM decreases dramatically at the highest levels. Men are more likely than women to be in technological and scientific activities, information technology, manufacturing, construction, utilities and transportation, while women are concentrated in education and training, human health, and hotels. Throughout several industries, Vietnam continues to have gender bias in recruitment in sectors relating to STEM and for positions with higher salaries. In many cases employers still add written gender preference in their job advertisements and men are most often targeted for more technical and highly skilled jobs such as architects, engineers, and IT professionals, despite the fact that the performance of highly qualified women often surpasses that of men.
At the Summit last month President Obama called on us to continue our critical work to build the next generation of leaders – in Africa and around the world. “Together,” he said, “let’s keep empowering our young people whose energy and enthusiasm and optimism can lift up countries, no matter how tough the circumstances.”
Thank you for that energy. For that enthusiasm. For that optimism. And please know that we will keep doing our part to answer the President’s call. And I know I speak for everyone at USAID, State, and all of our partners when I say that we can’t wait to watch you do yours.
And I’m proud that since the first Saving Lives at Birth Event six years ago – it just feels like yesterday –we have supported the development and scale of over 90 novel technologies and solutions. So we know that this is a model that works. And we’re institutionalizing it so that it’s something that USAID does and the U.S. Government does far into the future.
We’re also committed to continue investing in science, technology, innovation, and partnership across the board. This is something the President directed us to do in 2010 when he signed the first ever Policy Directive on global development. Ironically, there had actually never even been a policy on global development before. But part of it was to make these investments. The Agency has done that, and we’re seeing the world bear the fruit of that, and we will continue.
It is my great pleasure to be here to celebrate KHANA's contribution to the HIV response in Cambodia and to launch the new strategic plan for 2016-2020. This event takes place at an important time, especially because of the 2030 global agenda and Cambodia's strong commitment to virtually eliminate new HIV infections by 2025. That’s five years earlier than the global goal!
Building a Smart Grid has become a top priority for India. Approximately 45 percent of India’s poorest households lack access to electricity and approximately 20 percent of its installed electricity capacity is lost to various technical and commercial inefficiencies. These combined technical and commercial losses threaten to deplete state finances that are already strained, but also prohibit millions of Indians from living with a stable and reliable power source.
"Food is the moral right of all who are born into this world." These are the immortal words of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, the great American humanitarian and scientist who pioneered the Green Revolution. As many of you know, in the mid-1960s, Dr. Borlaug teamed up with Dr. M.S. Swaminathan to drastically increase wheat yields in India, helping this country become self-sufficient in food. Some of my family members, who hail from Punjab, still remember the dramatic impact of the Green Revolution.
Last week, I visited the statue of Dr. Borlaug, which is just behind the hall where we are meeting today. It was a powerful reminder of the legacy of this extraordinary human being, who saved tens of millions of lives in the 20thcentury. I think Dr. Borlaug would be very pleased with the cooperation we are undertaking today.
I am delighted to join the National Democratic Institute and the young leaders who have gathered here in Lusaka for this Youth Political Conflict Mitigation Workshop. And we are indeed privileged to have with us today Mr. Johnny Mack, who leads Communities Without Boundaries, Dr. Keith Jennings of NDI, a long-time friend of the Zambian people and government, and of course Mr. Martin Luther King III.
Urban development is a key feature of USAID’s work in the Philippines. One of our significant areas of work is the Cities Development Initiative, in which we integrate resources from our various technical sectors — health, education, economic growth, governance, and environment — to support partner cities in fulfilling their potential as engines of inclusive economic growth.
For decades, we have partnered with people of faith, to save lives after a disaster strikes, to eradicate diseases, to educate girls and boys, to promote the rights of women and minorities, and to help people feed their families. And that’s because our core values are often aligned. The holy month of Ramadan, as you know, honors the Muslim commitment to compassion, mercy, justice, and charity, and these are the same principles that guide much of our work across the globe and the american people's impulses that support our work, and we remain committed to partnering with Muslim communities and folks like you to put those values to work in service of the world's most vulnerable people.
As Deputy Secretary Higginbottom stated, foreign assistance works best when we collaborate in pursuit of clearly defined goals. With more than two dozen US Government departments and agencies working with developing countries, coordination of all US Government foreign assistance is essential. As we consider the future of foreign assistance, I’d like to quickly highlight five of the best practices that we at USAID believe have been and will continue to be essential to our foreign assistance program.
Last updated: April 15, 2016