WILMINGTON, Del. – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds foreign assistance, today hosted a forum in Wilmington with the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) to discuss the importance of investing in America’s civilian tools overseas to strengthen U.S. national security, create new opportunities for Delaware businesses, and reinforce America’s role as a global leader. Senator Coons was joined at the event by CNN’s Dana Bash, former Congressman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Nobel Prize winning economist Dr. Michael Kremer, and more than 400 political, business, and community leaders.
Watch the full video here.
“U.S. diplomacy and development programs address the root causes of the world’s toughest challenges, from poverty to pandemics to climate change, while helping to advance American values abroad,” said Senator Chris Coons. “I’m proud to have worked with the Administration and a bipartisan group of colleagues to pass legislation to make foreign assistance more effective and efficient and help Delaware businesses stay competitive overseas. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will continue to work across the aisle to protect our critical investments in the State Department and USAID and ensure that the U.S. maintains its position as a world leader.”
Coons and Royce have been long-time champions of the global development agenda and protected funding for America’s International Affairs Budget.
“Throughout the quarter century that I served in Congress, I saw countless threats to our country prevented because of America’s unique combination of civilian and military tools,” said Ed Royce, former Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Development and diplomacy, alongside a strong national defense, are critical to keeping us safe and ensuring America maintains its status as the leader of the free world. America has to lead.”
With over 108,000 jobs in Delaware tied to international trade, and Delaware exports to foreign markets totaling more than $4.7 billion a year, America’s global leadership isn’t just a matter of national security. It’s also a strategic economic issue for the First State.
“It’s not just a matter of research, it is not the government just spending taxpayer dollars, it’s finding out the most efficient way to do [development], not necessarily with government money,” said Nobel Prize winning economist Dr. Michael Kremer. “This approach has such bipartisan support, because this is very focused on evidence. It’s very focused on cost effectiveness… I think there are a lot of people out there who care deeply about [development] issues and want to do the right thing.”
“Fragility can destabilize entire regions, leading to the type of conflict and violence that can pose great threats to America’s national security,” said Lt. Gen Kip Ward, USA (ret.). “By investing in our diplomats and development activities, we can prevent crises that could impact our safety and security – from our men and women in uniform on the frontlines to our communities and families back home.”
The forum also brought together leaders from the private sector alongside the veteran, NGO, faith, and diaspora communities. Through panels and breakout sessions, the forum provided insights on a diverse array of foreign policy topics from climate change and conservation to global health and food security.
“Innovations in health care and medicine have completely changed how we respond to some of the world’s most pressing public health challenges,“ said Carmen Villar, Vice President of Social Business Innovation, Merck. “And America is leading the charge when it comes to many of these advances. Working alongside the U.S. government, Merck and others are sharing the latest breakthroughs in medical technology in order to respond to life-threatening diseases like Ebola and HIV/AIDS in parts of the world that have very little access to health care.”
Today’s event marks the third annual mid-Atlantic summit hosted by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition in Delaware, building on the past success of Senator Coons’ Opportunity: Africa summit over the last decade.
“Days like today are what the USGLC is all about,” said Liz Schrayer, President & CEO of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. “Where policy makers are coming together with veterans, students, community leaders from businesses and NGOs to talk about why American global leadership matters right here in Delaware. It’s impressive to see—year after year— Senator Coons leading the way by engaging his constituents on the importance of U.S. development and diplomacy, especially with the next generation.”
Also participating in today’s forum was the Honorable Mike Castle, former Delaware governor and U.S. representative; Dana Bash, Chief Political Correspondent, CNN; Jennifer Billings, Agriculture Development Leader, Corteva; Collin O’Mara, President & CEO, National Wildlife Federation; Suzanne Ehlers, President & CEO, PAI; Angeli Achrekar, Principal Deputy Coordinator, PDAS, Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Global Health Diplomacy, U.S. Department of State; Ari Johnson, Co-founder & CEO, Muso; Adrian Thomas, Vice President, Global Public Health & Access, Johnson & Johnson; Jahaan Johnson, Senior Vice President, Citi; Ezrah Aharone, Professor of Practice, Founder and Director, Center for Global Africa (CGA); Kristin Johnson, Senior Vice President, IREX; Carrie Hessler-Radelet, President & CEO, PCI; Savannah Fox, Regional Advocacy Coordinator, Policy & Advocacy Department, CARE; Margaret Tran, Regional Organizer, Bread for the World; and Matt Meyer, New Castle County Executive.