Welcome to the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s first board meeting of 2021 – and the first of the Biden Administration.
I’ll just say a few words to get us started.
As you know, MCC was established by Congress in 2004, with the mission of reducing poverty in well-governed, low-income countries. And the way that MCC would do that is through economic growth. The agency would focus on “what works” – evidence-based decision making, accountability, transparency, and country ownership. It would be rigorous, principled, and ahead of the curve.
Seventeen years later, MCC has invested more than $13 billion across 38 compacts with 29 partner countries. More than 188 million people have been served through its work.
Now the Biden Administration wants to make sure that we make the most of MCC as we seek to achieve our foreign policy goals.
One of our top priorities is stopping the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to being a global health emergency, the pandemic has also had a devastating economic impact on many parts of the world. That makes MCC’s mission of alleviating poverty through economic growth even more urgent.
Another top priority is climate change. President Biden has called for a green recovery to the crisis. MCC was an early mover in integrating climate adaptation, resilience, and mitigation into project assessment and project design. It funded climate resilient infrastructure in the Philippines and is helping Burkina Faso transition to cleaner energy sources. It can help spur a green recovery, so countries can enhance their resilience to future crises, reduce emissions, and create jobs and stimulate growth.
Our Administration is committed to supporting women and girls around the world. MCC adopted women’s economic empowerment as a key metric for investment, because it knows that empowering women to gain skills, earn incomes, and start businesses can have a transformative effect on their lives, their children’s lives, and beyond. When you invest in women, you invest in entire communities.
And we’re committed to supporting democracy worldwide. MCC works in countries that are committed to good governance. And it emphasizes accountability and transparency, which are hallmarks of democracy. At this moment when democracies are under threat around the world, we need MCC to keep incentivizing democratic values and reforms.
There’s a lot about MCC’s model that just makes sense. It focuses on country ownership, because our partners know better than we do what will work for them. It has flexible funding, which means the agency can make investment decisions based on the best, most up-to-date information, rather than having decisions dictated by annual budget cycles. It makes multi-year grants, which provide predictable funding, so our partners can dream big, knowing the money will be there. And the MCC Board has shown that it’s not afraid to scale back or end partnerships if a partner fails to meet its commitments or our rigorous standards.
I’m grateful to MCC’s talented and diverse staff, both here in Washington and overseas. And I’m looking forward to working with my fellow Board members. We’re building on a strong foundation. The work we do together will reduce poverty, drive growth, and promote stability and opportunity – all of which will help improve people’s lives around the world, and all of which ultimately serves the interests of the American people.
So let’s go to work. Thank you.