Global Cooperation

Why does the World Economic Forum work with USAID and other government agencies?

Workers harvest grapes at the La Motte wine farm in Franschhoek near Cape Town, South Africa in this picture taken January 29, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings - RTSFW3V

The Grow Africa project has generated over $2.3 billion of investment in agriculture Image: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings - RTSFW3V

Lisa Dreier
Managing Director, Advanced Leadership Initiative, Harvard University
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At the World Economic Forum, our mandate as an International Institute under Swiss law is to find innovative ways for the public and private sectors to work together to solve critical global challenges. We have identified fourteen broad areas where we believe our work can be most effective. We work on these programs throughout the year, and our Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters is dedicated to advancing our work in these areas by bringing leaders together to find ways of working together to achieve goals that none would be able to achieve on their own.

USAID has invested directly in both Grow Africa and the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation having committed approximately $26 million in multi-year agreements. In accounting terms, this money is not income to the Forum: all of it pays for real work.

What do USAID funds support at the World Economic Forum?

Project 1: Grow Africa

  • USAID Funding: $13.3 million over 5 years (2013-2017)
  • Impact generated: Over $2.3 billion in private-sector investment in agriculture projects in Sub-Saharan Africa, benefiting over 10 million smallholder farmers and creating a reported 88,000 jobs.
  • Next Steps: The partnership is now based at NEPAD Agency in South Africa.

Project 2: Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation

  • USAID Funding: $13 million over 7 years (2015-2022)
  • Impact expected: Increased growth and development in countries around the world through reducing barriers to trade. It is estimated that implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement which is expected to enter in to force within weeks, would boost global GDP by $1 trillion.
  • Next Steps: Facilitate public-private cooperation to implement trade facilitation across Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and other regions.

A key component of the Forum’s work on major global issues is catalysing and facilitating public-private partnerships. These partnerships are led by diverse coalitions of organisations including governments, companies, civil society and international organisations. Working together, these organisations develop innovative new approaches to solving problems and advancing progress.

Funding agencies such as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) can play a vital role in providing seed funding to initiate these partnerships and enabling them to have large-scale impact. As part of its work to develop innovative approaches that maximise the impact of U.S. taxpayer dollars, USAID supports public-private partnerships that mobilize large-scale investment and impact on specific issues.

In recent years, USAID has supported two major partnership initiatives catalysed and developed by the World Economic Forum. Both partnerships aim to benefit the public interest by accelerating sustainable economic growth globally, and food security in Africa.

The Grow Africa partnership is an African-led public-private partnership established jointly by the African Union, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD – an implementing agency of the AU), and the World Economic Forum in 2011. Over 300 organisations are involved in Grow Africa, working to sustainably increase food production on the African continent in support of African leaders’ ambitious goals to achieve zero hunger on the continent. Grow Africa acts as a convener and facilitator to help organizations define opportunities for agricultural investment, develop project plans, and implement them through partnerships. Grow Africa also convenes public-private dialogues at the leadership level to set commitments, review progress, and solve challenges.

To date, Grow Africa has helped to mobilize over USD 10 billion in private-sector investment commitments by 230 African and global companies. By end of 2015, $2.3 billion of these commitments had been implemented on the ground, 10 million smallholder farmers had benefited from these investments, and which companies reported had created over 88,000 jobs. The project was credited with changing leadership mindsets and mobilizing significant new commitments to transform African food security and agriculture. USAID has provided funding to support Grow Africa in the past 5 years. The partnership, which was originally based at the World Economic Forum, is now hosted by the NEPAD Agency in Johannesburg, Africa.

The Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation is a public-private partnership facilitated by the World Economic Forum, International Chamber of Commerce, the Center for International Private Enterprise and German Development Organisation (GIZ). Launched in Nairobi in December 2015, it focuses on supporting the implementation of trade facilitation improvements in developing countries in order to boost global economic growth and opportunity. To date, the Alliance has been active in Kenya, Ghana, Vietnam and Colombia. USAID has joined several other funding organizations in providing funding to support the establishment of the Alliance, complemented by in-kind contributions of the World Economic Forum.

When the Forum accepts donor funding, we commit to using those funds solely for the purpose of the designated project, according to detailed budget plans approved by the donor. We keep the funds in segregated accounts and audit them annually. We ensure that the funds have maximum impact by contributing institutional services and support to magnify the project’s impact. We feature these projects in discussions in Davos, but don’t use donor funds to do so.

Donors who invest in public-private partnerships are part of a new generation of innovative organisations which aim to increase the impact of their development assistance and other donations by catalysing partnerships that leverage much larger amounts of private sector investment and economic activity. The Forum welcomes the partnership of these organisations as part of its role as the international institution for public-private cooperation.

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Global CooperationIndustries in DepthTrade and Investment
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