By Jane Morse, 31 January 2013 Africa:
Washington — On her last day as secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton announced four new or expanded public-private initiatives valued at up to $86.5 million.
"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," Clinton said at a January 31 State Department event meant to bring together and thank representatives from the many nongovernmental organizations, faith communities, businesses and companies that have participated in such initiatives in the past.
Since 2009, the U.S. Department of State has worked with more than 1,100 partners and mobilized more than $650 million in public and private resources to support key foreign policy objectives including climate change mitigation, women's empowerment, economic growth and human rights, according to Kris Balderston, Clinton's special representative for global partnerships, who introduced the secretary.
These are the new or expanding initiatives:
• wPower. This new program will train more than 7,000 women entrepreneurs, helping them to sell new technologies, like clean cookstoves and solar lanterns in India and Nigeria and throughout East Africa. The MacArthur Foundation, USAID, CARE International, Solar Sister, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and the Wangari Maathai Institute are among the participants supporting this program.
• Alliance for Affordable Internet. This new effort by multilateral institutions, civil society and the World Wide Web Foundation will be aimed at providing affordable Internet access to a billion people in developing countries, where only about 25 percent of the population is currently online. Internet access, Clinton said, "is a key element of economic growth and innovation."
• Global Equality Fund. First launched in 2011 to promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons around the world, this program will be expanded. Clinton announced that the governments of Norway, the Netherlands and France have recently joined this partnership.
• Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. This program, which has already aided millions of families by helping them obtain affordable residential cookstoves that use less fuel and produce less pollution, is being expanded to include 600 partners and 18 foreign governments, Clinton said. Recent studies, she said, find that pollutants from conventional cookstoves are responsible for some 4 million deaths worldwide. New commitments from Paradigm Project and Bunge will bring as many as 5 million clean cookstoves to East Africa. And in Kenya, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and General Electric Company are establishing a clean cookstove manufacturing facility, with additional plants in Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
"Partnerships have proven to be an invaluable tool for meeting very tough challenges," Clinton said, but she added: "Partnerships themselves are not a solution; rather, they bring together the people and the resources that can then lead to solutions."
"Diplomacy and development is not in any way confined to government-to-government relations," Clinton said. "We have to think differently."