National Security Council's Gayle Smith Talks About Transitioning States at the Forum
Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the National Security Council, spoke to InterAction’s Forum about transitioning states just hours after having returned from the Horn of Africa. In her speech, she pointed out that the most successful transitions can take up to 30 years, and that the international community needs to start including development work from the beginning of the relief phase in order to make them successful.
Read the session summary here.
UN’s Valerie Amos and USAID’s Don Steinberg Address Opening Session
Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator (USG/ERC), and Don Steinberg, Deputy Administrator at USAID, opened the Forum on Wednesday with keynote addresses that touched on the growing humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa.
They were followed by a distinguished panel that continued that discussion. The group included Ashoka CEO Bill Drayton; Brookings Senior Fellow and Global Economy and Development Deputy Director Homi Kharas; Save the Children President and CEO-elect Carolyn Miles; Habitat for Humanity International President and CEO Jonathan Reckford; and USAID’s Paul Weisenfeld. In addition, the group detailed how the full range of humanitarian and development actors—governments, the UN and NGOs—are revaluating their roles and partnerships in working to improve the lives of the world’s poor.
Read a summary of the plenary here.
Muhammad Yunus to Close Forum August 12
Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, founding member of the Elders, founder of Grameen Bank and recognized father of microcredit will be keynote speaker at the closing luncheon of the Forum: Shaping and Protecting the Environment to Do Our Work.
This year, after months of government attack, the Bangladesh government fired Yunus from his position at Grameen Bank, citing legal violations and an age limit on his position. Yunus and Grameen Bank are appealing the decision, claiming Yunus' removal was politically motivated.
Dr. Yunus received his B.A. and M.A. in Economics at Dhaka University in Bangladesh. A Fulbright scholar, he earned his Ph.D. in Economics from Vanderbilt University, and became an Assistant Professor of Economics at Middle Tennessee State University in 1969. Inspired by an independent Bangladesh emerging in 1971, he returned to join the Economics Department of University of Chittagong.
What started as Dr. Yunus' own small business loans to Bangladeshi villagers grew into the full-fledged Grameen Bank (which means Village Bank). Grameen Bank now has 7.93 million borrowers, 97% of whom are women, and has lent over $8.26 billion with a near 100% repayment rate. Dr. Yunus has founded several other companies in Bangladesh to abate poverty and aid development, including mobile phone services, energy, education and health care. He is also the founder of Grameen Trust, which extends the Grameen microcredit system all over the world. More recently, he has been promoting the idea of social business as the missing link in capitalism.
Together with Grameen Bank, Dr. Yunus was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to create economic and social development, the first Bangladeshi and the third Bengali to be so honored. He has won a number of other awards, including the Ramon Magsaysay Award, World Food Prize and Sydney Peace Prize, and is the author of the best-selling books Banker to the Poor and Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism in 2008. In his home country, he has received the President's Award, Central Bank Award and Independence Day Award, the highest national award. And most recently President Barack Obama decorated him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the USA.