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.
Every year, this event brings together the world’s champions in food security. I look around the room and see nutrition experts, food scientists, and humanitarian leaders. I see advocates from both sides of the aisle who recognize that the face of hunger is not a partisan issue, but a moral one—and one of great importance to our shared security and prosperity. Looking around the room, it is clear we have the expertise, tools, and new approaches to end hunger.
Most importantly, it’s clear we have the leadership.
Over the last three years, under the personal and committed leadership of President Obama, Feed the Future has worked to translate a global vision of food security into sustainable impact that are lifting millions of people from poverty and giving them a foothold in the global economy. For generations, this aspiration—of a world without hunger—has guided American engagement in development.
USAID is supportive of the goals of IHP+, and we welcome opportunities to collaborate more effectively with countries and development partners in accelerating progress toward reaching the Millennium Development Goals. USAID is delighted to sign the IHP+ Global Compact for a variety of reasons.
It is also my honor to be here today because your education represents something unique in our world. Even since the giants of industry—Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon—first established their footprints here in Pittsburgh, this city has served at the frontier of American innovation and philanthropy—proving what is possible when you apply both your heart and your mind.
With backgrounds as diverse as engineering and history, Heinz scholars learn to apply these principles to their own work—bringing analytic rigor to public policy and compassion to analytics. It is here—at what Steve Jobs called the intersection of technology and liberal arts—that ideas gain influence and action has real meaning.
It is a great honor to participate in the fortieth anniversary of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) policy fellowship program. I’d like to begin by thanking Alan Leshner, Cynthia Robinson, and their colleagues in the diplomacy security and development program for partnering with USAID, and to Alex Dehgan for his superb leadership in the science and technology arena at USAID. And I’ll extend a particularly warm welcome to all of our current and former USAID AAAS fellows, who have enriched our Agency.
Good afternoon! I am really excited to be here today. Indeed, from the day that Tom first shared with me an early draft, I have been waiting impatiently for this book to be published. And now that the day has come, I must start by congratulating the authors – both Tom and Diane, and note how pleased I am to see such a crowded room for this launch.
We are here today to reaffirm our interest and commitment to following up on the outcomes of the Copenhagen Consultation in 2012 to provide ourselves with a new tool in our work in promoting sustainable economic growth around the world. This is essential if we are to fulfill the vision we all share for the future. Indeed, two months ago, President Barack Obama pledged in his State of the Union address that the United States will join with our allies to eradicate extreme poverty in the next two decades. He said that this will be achieved by connecting more people to the global economy and empowering women; by giving our young and brightest minds new opportunities to serve; by helping communities to feed, power and educate themselves; by saving the world’s children from preventable deaths; and by realizing the promise of an AIDS-free generation.
It is my pleasure to join you to mark the 2013 Vietnamese Disabilities Day and talk about our joint efforts to encourage and support Vietnamese with disabilities.
Tôi vinh dự được cùng quý vị kỷ niệm Ngày người Khuyết tật Việt nam 2013 và phát biểu về nỗ lực chung của chúng ta nhằm khuyến khích và hỗ trợ người khuyết tật Việt Nam.
I must admit that it’s daunting to speak before religious scholars, and organizations such as Catholic Relief Services, St. Egidio, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. I feel like the man who was asked to speak about Whale Anatomy, and as he looks into the audience, he sees Jonah.
The task is made less daunting by the recognition that Pope John’s 23rd encyclical is accessible throughout five decades. In the 1960’s, it’s accessible during nuclear disarmament and an end to the arms race, as well as decolonization and an end to the caste system dividing nations. It can be applied to the 1970’s, as we witnessed gender equality and women’s empowerment on the rise, and an end to racial and ethnic prejudice and discrimination. We can look to it as we committed to treatises on the inter-connection of global human rights and peace in the 1980’s. And in the 1990’s, it’s useful at the need to ensure that growing science and technology is pursued not as a goal of its own but as a means toward the betterment of mankind. More recently, perhaps not surprising given my position as USAID’s Deputy Administrator, it is a strong endorsement of foreign assistance as a means of building peaceful, stable societies. It may sound self-serving since my agency’s budget is going to the Hill tomorrow, but paragraph 88 reminds us:
Since 1954, we have helped feed a billion people in over 150 countries. Initially, it was an act with no apparent downside. Our farmers had an outlet for their surplus food. Our ocean carriers filled their vessels with food aid. And vulnerable people halfway around the world received their next meal.
But over the last 60 years, the world has changed. Today, agriculture is the second most productive aspect of the American economy, and we just experienced the strongest four years in history for agricultural trade. Between now and 2050, demand for food will be so strong that agricultural production will have to grow 60 percent just to keep up. Rather than surpluses, we talk of shortages. And as a result, the cost of doing business has grown by 200 percent—eroding our humanitarian reach and impact.
Last updated: April 15, 2016