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Remarks by Dr. Judith Rodin at the Resilience & Food Security in Changing Climate Panel

Thank you, Administrator Shah.

Your leadership has not only put resilience front and center in USAID‘s development efforts—it’s paved the way for resilience to take hold at the forefront of the global development agenda.

This is not the first time Dr. Shah and I have convened a partnership between our institutions with lofty goals.

In 2006, when Raj was leading the Gates Foundation’s early agricultural work, Rockefeller and Gates partnered to launch the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, better known to many as AGRA.

AGRA’s goal is to reduce the dual and interlinking challenges of hunger and poverty by sparking a third Green Revolution, this time in Africa.

And so it’s fitting that we make this announcement of our next collaboration impacting Africa in between panels on food security and partnerships. And I want to thank Secretary Kerry and the panelists for really laying out plainly the critical need for resilience-building strategies.

Dr. Shah powerfully told the story of how USAID began to recognize the promise of resilience for addressing development needs. The Rockefeller Foundation came to a bit differently. We were working in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina when we recognized the need for cities worldwide to plan for and protect against the shocks and stresses that were coming with more frequency and intensity than ever before.

This work led us to launch our Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network, where we are working in 50 cities to develop resilience strategies to address climate change and accelerating urbanization. And in turn, this informed our most recent and largest commitment to urban resilience yet: the launch of our 100 Resilient Cities Challenge, creating a network and platform of services for building resilience in 100 cities worldwide, which we announced last year on our Foundation’s Centennial.

While cities have been a focus on our resilience work, through AGRA we learned the importance of building agricultural resilience in the face of a changing climate. One innovation we supported was World Food Program’s Africa RiskView, a software platform that translates satellite-based rainfall data into cost estimates for every first-level administrative district in every country in Sub-Saharan Africa. This platform is now the technical engine of the African Risk Capacity, an optimized global risk management system which triggers timely provision of disaster assistance, and when fully operationalized, will attract more private investment in long-term growth.

All told, The Rockefeller Foundation has committed more than a half-billion dollars to help cities and rural communities build economic, social, and climate resilience.

While USAID and Rockefeller came to resilience through different work, we are driven by the same reality: so much investment in development is weakened or wiped out by shocks and stressors—natural and manmade—and which have already been enumerated here today: among them, droughts, storms, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and lawlessness.

As a result, huge expenditures in relief and humanitarian aid are often needed. It’s estimated that for every $3 spent on development, $1 is lost to the next disaster. Meanwhile, year after year, humanitarian aid continues to be directed to the same regions to address immediate recovery needs.

Work by The Rockefeller Foundation and USAID in some of the world’s most vulnerable regions has shown that building resilience reduces the likelihood that severe disruption becomes disaster, enabling communities and institutions to rebound faster and more effectively. This means that less is required to be spent on disaster recovery and relief.

Moreover, we have shown that the investment in resilience building can yield an economic and social benefit for individuals and communities before the shock and stresses hit.

Both of these together—the mitigation of disaster and the co-benefits every day—combined make up what we call the Resilience Dividend.

To achieve the resilience dividend for more people in more places, we need a new approach that effectively captures and aligns the strengths of humanitarian and development assistance.

That is the impetus for convening the Global Resilience Partnership, with an initial investment by The Rockefeller Foundation and USAID of a $100 million, which will work to coordinate resources, scale innovations, and engage new actors in three geographies vulnerable to shocks: the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and South and Southeast Asia.

The first feature of the Resilience Partnership will be the launch of a multi-phase resilience design challenge, focused on bringing people and organizations from a diverse set of industries together to collaborate on bold and innovative solutions to the toughest resilience challenges facing the three focus regions.

Multi-sector and multi-disciplinary teams will research and diagnose problems collectively, and then develop viable, locally-driven, and high-impact solutions that can build resilience at scale. We anticipate opening the challenge in September.

In each region, teams will be part of a regional hub, which will also comprise innovators and experts who will collaborate to inspire new thinking and ideas.

A second feature comprises predictive analytics that will offer tools for strengthened decision-making. This could include crowd-sourced data collection, vulnerability and crisis mapping, and a set of early warning systems. Predictive modeling, for example, can generate compelling evidence and catalyze financing toward resilience dividends.

A third feature will include new streams of flexible financing to increase the support for innovative practices. One such product that we are exploring is a resilience impact bond, which would pay for improved resilience outcomes, or an expansion of risk insurance or rapid micro-lending facilities.

The Partnership is not looking to replicate the good work underway—rather we aim to catalyze new innovation and scale what is already working.

We seek a true partnership that comprises civil society, other donors, governments, companies, and a range of others who are interested in infusing resilience thinking throughout global development investments to drive a paradigm shift, and realize the resilience dividend—whether it’s more effective diplomacy, more streamlined use of tax dollars, or greater impact of development aid.

In USAID, The Rockefeller Foundation could not have asked for a better co-convener to spearhead this exciting effort. We look forward to getting this off the ground, and will have more exciting announcements in the weeks to come.

Thank you.

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