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High-Level Partners Come Together at United Nations General Assembly to Reaffirm Commitment to Build Resilience

NEW YORK—Today, as the United Nations General Assembly is underway, The Rockefeller Foundation, USAID, and the United Nations Foundation hosted a high level event highlighting the new international commitment to building resilience for vulnerable communities. The Rockefeller Foundation President Dr. Judith Rodin and USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah welcomed expert speakers including Valerie Amos, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator; Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director, World Food Programme; and Heikki Holmås, Minister of International Development of Norway. Two panels featured rich discussion of key alliances and innovations newly enabling relief and development actors to come together to build resilience and help sustain development gains.

Titled “Ensuring Resilient Livelihoods: A Global Effort,” the event centered on the understanding that today’s environmental and man made shocks and stresses—linked to climate change, food shortages, and resource competition—can amplify vulnerability and fragility within affected populations. These risks are building toward a tipping point that significantly threatens livelihoods, making plain the critical need to build resilience across communities, countries, and systems.

“There is no such thing as humanitarian relief distinct from development,” said Dr. Judith Rodin, The Rockefeller Foundation president. We may not know exactly how our resilience will be tested, but we know very well that those tests will come – and that they will come at the seams where our economies and communities and technologies intersect.  The resilience difference is about leading transformative change by creating strong bonds across similar groups; bridges among diverse groups; and links between different levels of action, and actors.”

“Instead of spending another year wishing for improved coordination, we worked closely with African leaders and international development partners to establish a Global Alliance for Action in Nairobi to rally the world behind a commitment to building resilience in the Horn of Africa, where crisis continue to occur,” said Administrator Rajiv Shah, U.S. Agency for International Development.  “As a result, for the first time, Kenya and Ethiopia have real plans and new structures to help communities’ combat vulnerability to crisis. And we have already seen real policy changes.”

“The resiliency agenda is a great example of the United Nations fostering innovative partnerships to address today’s tough global challenges and improve lives for people across the globe.  The leadership of the UN, USAID and Rockefeller on the issue will help to ensure progress is made for future generations,” said Kathy Calvin, CEO of the United Nations Foundation.

Reflecting a global commitment to doing business differently, the first panel featured seven distinguished leaders from the development community.  Moderated by USAID’s Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict & Humanitarian Assistance Nancy Lindborg, the discussion illustrated recent strides toward coordination at the international, regional, and country levels with participation by Heikki Holmås, Minister of International Development of Norway; Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator; Amadou Allahoury Diallo, High Commissioner of Niger’s 3N Initiative; Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response; Rebeca Grynspan, Associate Administrator, United Nations Development Programme; and Mahboub Maalim, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.  The resounding theme vocalized by most panelists was to keep the focus on the need to build resilience and ensure that even as we save lives, we maintain our commitment to improved livelihoods.

“We used to think of this as linear action and now we need to all start at the same time.  We need to build the agency of the people and the institutions have to be much better when risks materialize, said Rebecca Grynspan, Associate Administrator, United Nations Development Programme.”

“I believe we are at a turning point and we need to stay focused as long as it takes, said Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response.”

“We used to work in silos, now we are putting all these pieces together, said Amadou Allahoury Diallo, High Commissioner, 3N Initiative, Republic of Niger.

The second panel brought together non-governmental organizations and private sector leaders to discuss on-the-ground innovations currently making the difference in support of more resilient livelihoods and the importance of nontraditional partnerships in bringing these solutions to scale.  Moderated by Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director, World Food Programme, the panel included Kaosar Afsana, Director of Health, BRAC; Degan Ali, Executive Eirector, African Development Solutions; Rod Snider, Senior Advisor American Red Cross; and Colin Harrison, distinguished
Engineer and Inventor, IBM.

The Rockefeller Foundation Vice President of Foundation Initiatives Heather Grady closed the event with remarks on key discussion themes and a call to action for the more than 100 diverse guests in attendance to continue driving this agenda forward with new meaningful alliances that bring our relief and development efforts together to build resilience.


Media Inquiries:
Laura Gordon, The Rockefeller Foundation, 646-915-2631,