Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–January 31, 2013. Thank you all very, very much. As Kris just said, we’re all like one millisecond away from just collapsing here – (laughter) – because of the emotion and the feelings that are coursing through all of us. And this is my final event in a room named for Ben Franklin who has watched over us over the last four years. I have lost count of how many times I’ve walked in here along with many of you for an event that rewards innovation or launching a new initiative or bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders to tackle a shared concern. And there are so many of you that I am grateful to.
I want particularly to thank my two colleagues and friends who are here on the stage, the Special Representative for Global Partnerships, Kris Balderston, and our first ever Ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Issues, Melanne Verveer. They have, along with other of my colleagues, really embraced the whole idea of partnerships and understood that in the 21st century, diplomacy and development is not in any way confined to government-to-government relations. Those have to be tended, those have to be respected, those have to be nurtured and grown. But at the same time in this increasingly interconnected, networked world, we wanted to reach out people-to-people, to our NGOs, our faith communities, our private sector, and so much more.
So partnerships have been a hallmark of what we’ve done in the last four years here at the State Department, because many of the challenges that we face extend beyond traditional, political, and even geographic divisions. How do we grow the global economy and give those hundreds of millions of young people, men and women alike, a chance at a good, decent job that will give them and their families and children better opportunities? How do we address the threat of global climate change? How do we fight global terrorism and undermine and rebut the narrative that recruits young people and spreads extremism?
Now, these challenges and so many others affect people from all walks of life, and therefore, they do require a new set of solutions and new kinds of collaboration. So I set up the Global Partnerships Initiative because I wanted to spur the State Department to collaborate more among government, civil society, the private sector, universities, religious institutions, other groups, and even individuals. And I’m very pleased and proud of what we’ve achieved. Through Partners for a New Beginning, we’re working with local businesses and civil society groups in 10 countries across the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. Working with Cisco, Coca-Cola, and the Aspen Institute, this partnership has launched 120 projects in the last two years to promote economic opportunities, strengthen education, and yes, create jobs. The International Diaspora Engagement Alliance is mobilizing America’s vast network of diaspora communities to promote volunteerism and philanthropy around the world. With the Migration Policy Institute, Microsoft, IDB, DigiSol, and Boom Financial, we’ve built a network of more than 1,500 communities representing more than 190 countries and regions.
And I could go on and on, because there have been so many exciting partnerships, sometimes very small and very targeted, sometimes quite large and expansive, but they all had in common a belief that we had to start thinking more creatively about solving problems that affect us all.
I’m pleased we are announcing new initiatives today. One called wPower looks at the cross-cutting challenges of climate change, access to clean energy, technology, and economic opportunity for women. We will be working with the MacArthur Foundation, USAID, CARE International, Solar Sister, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, and the Wangari Maathai Institute to provide training for more than 7,000 women entrepreneurs, helping them to sell new technologies, like clean cookstoves and solar lanterns in India, Nigeria, and throughout East Africa.
Another called the Alliance for Affordable Internet will expand access to the internet in developing countries where only 25 percent on average of the population are online. This is a key element of economic growth and innovation, so working with multilateral institutions, civil society, and the World Wide Web Foundation, we’re going to help the next billion people come online.
We’re also expanding on some of our successful partnerships. In 2011, I launched the Global Equality Fund to promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons around the world. And I want to welcome the Governments of Norway, the Netherlands, and France to this partnership. And I thank the Arcus Foundation and MAC AIDS Fund for their recent contributions. Also with us is Michel Togue, a human rights lawyer from Cameroon who has fought tirelessly to defend LGBT persons with support from this fund, and we greatly applaud his commitment and his courage.
And our Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which has helped millions of families live healthier, more productive lives, has expanded now to include 600 partners and 18 foreign governments, including our newest partners, Mongolia and France. Our longtime partners from Morgan Stanley, Dow Corning, and UNF are also with us today. And new commitments from Paradigm Project and Bunge will bring as many as 5 million stoves to East Africa. In Kenya, OPIC and GE are establishing a stove manufacturing facility with additional plants in Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Finally, Philips, the South African industrial development corporation and African Clean Energy, have begun manufacturing and distributing what is probably the cleanest cookstove made in Africa. When I first started beating the drums on this alliance, there were people who said, “There she goes again.” (Laughter.) “Clean cookstoves? What does that have to do with world peace and prosperity and human rights and democracy and freedom?” Well, everything actually. And a recent publication, I guess in Lancet, right Kris, of the world disease burden actually upped the fatalities from breathing the air from unclean cookstoves to four million, making it one of the top five, actually the number four killer in the world. But it’s also a contributor to black soot, which along with methane and other slow-acting pollutants is a major contributor to climate change. So you go on and on.
We have to think differently. Part of what it means to be the Secretary of State of the United States today is to expand what we do and how we do it on a range of issues, to add to our toolkit that already consists of government-to-government diplomacy, government-to-government development, and the other kinds of values-driven actions that are part of our portfolio, but to add new tools. And this partnership initiative that we have nurtured and grown has really delivered to show how we can do more together. And by that, it’s not just the people who traditionally walked into the Ben Franklin Room, but it’s all of you and so many others.
So partnerships have proven to be an invaluable tool for meeting very tough challenges. And I’m confident that the United States, under our next Secretary and in the Obama Administration and, I hope, for years to come, will continue building this capacity for creating and nurturing and growing partnerships that produce results around the world. Now, partnerships themselves are not a solution; rather, they bring together the people and the resources that can then lead to solutions.
So really, in other words, we’re not just happy you’re here so we could have this final event together; we’re happy you’re here because it is you, our partners, who have to be part of the solutions. It’s you who have made the great difference. I mean, we could have opened up a partnership office and nobody came. But instead, you understood, and in fact, you helped to create the vision that we had. And you have helped verify the validity of that vision through the work you have done with us. Your commitment, creativity, and compassion have led to outcomes that are improving lives, building prosperity, and promoting justice.
Now, great things about partnerships – and we’re beginning to do even more of that and we’ll add to it in the future – is through our online communication, we can encourage people to begin partnerships anywhere. People who are out of government, you can’t tell them, okay, you can act like a government; that’s not going to work. But you can sure be a partner, and you can create partnerships, and you can come up with solutions, and we can support you in every way that is possible.
So, thank you so much for what you have already done. I hope that you will continue to be partners with the State Department and USAID and the rest of our government as we expand this whole approach and look for new ways to solve problems that affect all of us. So for me, it truly is a bittersweet moment to leave this room for the last time as Secretary of State at an official event. But it gives me such great pride and pleasure to thank you and know that the work will continue. I am very, very grateful. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)