About the Author: Cheryl D. Mills serves as Counselor and Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The Obama Administration is forging a new vision for development -- one that fundamentally elevates development as a central pillar of our foreign policy alongside diplomacy and defense, changes the way we support development in new and innovative ways, and integrates development much more deeply with defense and diplomacy to address some of the world's greatest challenges. The Administration's core vision is to build a safer, more prosperous, more democratic, and more equitable world. The Feed the Future Initiative is central to achieving that vision. Recognizing the importance of food security to our collective environmental, economic and human security, President Obama asked Secretary Clinton to lead a robust whole-of-government effort to make food security a reality for millions in need.
Today, I am honored to be in the presence of leaders such as Liberian President Sirleaf, Ministers of Agriculture, Administrator Shah, U.S. members of Congress, government colleagues, and representatives from civil society and the private sector to discuss the development of Feed the Future. In a world where over a billion people suffer from hunger, and more than 3.5 million children die from under-nutrition each year, the challenge can be daunting. Feed the Future, the U.S. government's global hunger and food security initiative, renews our commitment to invest in sustainably reducing hunger and poverty. We will work through partnerships with countries vulnerable to food insecurity and most committed to creating rigorous investment plans which will strengthen the entire agricultural chain -- from the lab, to the farm, to the market, to the table.
We have come far since global leaders met in L'Aquila, Italy, last July and committed to act with the scale and urgency needed to achieve sustainable global food security. Just last month, Treasury Secretary Geithner announced our $475 million investment in the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, a new multi-donor trust fund administered by the World Bank that will support country-led plans for food security.
Women and girls are at the heart of this initiative. There's a proverb that speaks to a central lesson of development: “Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime." Secretary Clinton has offered an addition to that proverb: "If you teach a woman to fish, she'll feed her whole village." As the status of women improves, agricultural productivity and nutrition improve as well. Greater gender equality is a force multiplier in all of our development efforts.
Feed the Future requires the best of our government, including effectively leveraging diplomacy and development to work with host governments and other donors. Perhaps most importantly, this inclusive approach invites stakeholders from all segments of society to concentrate on food security for all. What will your role be?