By Megan Soller
The Office of Global Partnerships (GP), a small office in the Department of State that has existed for more than a decade, is now beginning a new chapter after its realignment to the Office of the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment (E). The office’s mission is to engage the private sector in top policy priorities and to build impactful public-private partnerships. The importance of building partnerships across sectors, industries, and borders to promote economic growth, opportunity, and sustainable peace has become an essential aspect of the Department’s approach to U.S. diplomacy. In recent years, the private sector has invested $10 for every $1 of U.S. foreign assistance spent on global development. GP is embracing this new trend and serves as the direct link for private sector collaboration within the Department, fostering and developing cross-sector relationships that will advance U.S. foreign policy goals.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has challenged Under Secretary Keith Krach and GP to champion the development and execution of a proactive global economic security strategy. Under the leadership of Under Secretary Krach, GP is launching a public-private partnership to foster collaboration between the Department and leaders from the private sector that will enhance and preserve global economic opportunities. The partnership is intended to serve as a critical forum for the Department to showcase its advocacy of economic security, as well as an important convening tool to mobilize members’ support and resources. Consultations with the partnership’s members will assist the Department’s efforts to strengthen relations with allies and partners, amplify the moral high ground of American values, and counter threats to U.S. economic and national security and global economic security by incorporating private sector input, alignment of related efforts, shared values, and burden-sharing considerations.
Even before the realignment under E, GP Managing Director Thomas Debass and his team have been working to advance global economic security. Last May, along with the Bureau of African Affairs, GP organized the first-ever Ethiopia Partnership Forum (EPF) in Washington, D.C. The one-day event convened more than 400 private sector leaders, representatives of the Ethiopian government, and USG personnel to showcase Ethiopia’s emerging business and networking opportunities. Hundreds of potential industry investors received an in-depth analysis of Ethiopia’s economic and commercial landscape. As a follow-up to the event, the GP team traveled to Ethiopia last November with a delegation involving many EPF participants to cultivate partnership opportunities and to gather insight into the Ethiopian market.
In addition to launching new initiatives, GP continues to manage several ongoing public-private partnerships, including the Women in Science (WiSci) STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Design, and Mathematics) camps. WiSci brings in some big names from the private sector, including Google, Intel, and Microsoft, to leverage resources and expertise to empower high school girls with STEAM skills, leadership training, and cultural exchange. The two-week summer camp program has included girls from 27 countries and has reached more than 800 participants to date.
GP continues to fulfill its enterprise-wide mandate to institutionalize private sector engagement and help bureaus and posts utilize the private sector to fulfill their goals. GP does this by providing several partnership resources for the Department, including online and two-day trainings both U.S.-based and overseas. The training covers the basics of private sector engagement and the lifecycle of public-private partnerships, including partner identification, the vetting and approval process, how to craft a memorandum of understanding, and how to manage partnerships. GP also provides consultations and technical assistance to posts and domestic offices on how to conduct private sector engagement and how to build partnerships. GP serves the Department by conducting due diligence on potential partners and donors, and uses its wealth of data to produce business intelligence reports on potential private sector partners and on private sector engagement for specific policy priorities.
GP looks forward to continuing to leverage private sector support for the Department’s top policy priorities and continuing to help the Department reimagine how to conduct diplomacy by utilizing private sector engagement. To stay up to date with GP, follow them on Twitter @GPatState or Facebook.
Megan Soller is a communications and outreach associate in the Office of Global Partnerships.