USAID chief meets corporate leaders at the White House

CEOs Paul Polman of Unilever, Mike Duke of Walmart, and Paul Bulcke of Nestlé. The corporate leaders met with U.S. Agency for International Development Rajiv Shah at the White House to discuss supply chain management within the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020. Photo by: World Economic Forum, Walmart and Nestlé / CC BY-NC-SA

U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah met corporate leaders — including the CEOs of Wal-Mart, Mike Duke: Unilever, Paul Polman; and Nestlé, Paul Bulcke — at the White House on Wednesday to discuss supply chain management within the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020.

The agency describes TFA 2020 as “a public-private partnership in which partners take voluntary actions, individually and in combination, to reduce the tropical deforestation associated with the sourcing of commodities such as palm oil, soy, beef, and paper and pulp.” The initiative seeks to engage “smallholder farmers and other producers on sustainable agricultural intensification, promoting the use of degraded lands, and reforestation.”

According to Shah, the meeting offered an opportunity to discuss how supply chains can better draw smallholders into major retailers’ production markets in developing countries, as well as factor more effectively into U.S. development programs — with private sector partners — to achieve sustainable poverty alleviation goals.

In response to a question about Pope Francis’s recent “apostolic exhortation,” which cautioned that capitalist economic growth is not the solution to all human development goals, Shah stressed the importance of “intermediaries” like USAID and its partners, who can help ensure private enterprise contributes to poverty alleviation.

PPPs and other collaborative agreements with the for-profit sector are hallmarks of Shah’s USAID Forward reform package, as well as President Barack Obama’s policy directive, which elevated the role of development to a core U.S. foreign policy priority.

Other international donor agencies — in particular the U.K. Department for International Development — are increasingly paying more attentions to PPPs for supply chain management that target the rural poor and other populations that otherwise struggle to benefit from economic growth.

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About the author

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    Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.