Remarks
Reta Jo Lewis
Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs
The John D. O'Bryant African-American Institute, Northeastern University
Boston, MA
April 6, 2012


Good afternoon and thank you Richard for that very kind introduction.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to visit Northeastern University, a highly acclaimed institution well-known for experiential research opportunities with a global outlook.

I would like to take a moment to thank the John D. O’Bryant African-American Institute. Not just for hosting this afternoon’s event, but for your commitment to intellectually, culturally, and socially inspiring students of African descent toward excellence, success, and service. Under the inspired leadership of Dr. Richard O’Bryant, the Institute fosters a positive and inspiring learning environment.

Today, the world faces a unique set of challenges -- economic, environmental, social, and political – that require collaborative innovation and determination of our world’s best minds.

It is almost hard to imagine how much has happened in the last 18 months, from revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa, to renewed fears over economic default in Europe. The world has changed very quickly under our feet and before our eyes.

Over the last three years, the United States has ended one war, and we have begun to wind down another. We are affirming our place as a Pacific power. We are strengthening our alliance with our European and NATO partners. We are elevating the role of economics and development within U.S. diplomacy to help create jobs here at home and to advance our strategic interests around the world. And of course, we are reaching beyond governments to engage directly with people.

In this fast changing world, the Obama Administration is convinced of the need to seize this moment, to meet these challenges, and to lay the foundation for sustained global leadership in a rapidly changing world increasingly linked and transformed by new technologies. Only America has the reach, resources, and relationships to anchor a more peaceful and prosperous world.

At the same time, urbanization is occurring at an unprecedented rate, especially in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Fifty-two percent of the earth’s population now lives in cities. Every week one million people move to cities. Continued rapid urbanization will lead to three billion new urban dwellers.

Global partnerships which put aside individual philosophies and focus on solutions are essential to solving these global challenges and to building a more stable and secure world.

As Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton has said, and as the United States has long maintained, U.S. foreign policy relationships will always be nation-to-nation. But the scope of what defines nation-to-nation conversations are shifting in the modern, more global, and more flattened economy – deeming city-to-city and state-to-state dialogues just as critical to the larger context of executing, implementing, and achieving a nation’s overarching diplomatic goals.

Building peer-to-peer relationships between state and local elected officials has a tremendous effect on foreign policy that often goes unrecognized. Still, building these relationships and encouraging this engagement at the subnational level has limitless potential.

Peer-to-peer relationships provide state and local leaders around the globe with an intimate glance into the American way of life, and more importantly, into our democratic institutions and system of governance. Even at a more basic but equally important level, these interactions develop trust – an attribute essential to developing strong bilateral ties.

Secretary Clinton has stated time and time again that 21st century global challenges require us to work with new partners to collaborate and innovate globally. At the Department of State, this has meant making a transition to 21st Century Statecraft, a strategy for creating partnerships for achieving modern diplomatic goals by engaging all the elements of our national power and leveraging all forms of our strength.

Two years ago, Secretary Clinton created the Office of Global Intergovernmental Affairs emphasizing the need to utilize local leaders as a key component in the much needed widespread and deep-rooted efforts to take on our world’s greatest challenges – a key part of that charge is empowering subnational officials to lead their states and communities to a stable and secure future.

My job is to realize Secretary Clinton’s vision by connecting what the Federal Government does best with what state and local governments are doing and can do, and what our successful private sector is doing and can do. We have launched partnerships with China, India, and Brazil to strengthen subnational economic and cultural networks.

So, just as Secretary Clinton engages in important bilateral discussions with her counterparts, such as the Minister of External Relations of Brazil, so too does our office engage in pivotal conversations on a range of issues with Brazilian mayors and governors.

I just returned from a 10-day visit to Brazil during which I sought opportunities for state-to-state cooperation around the 2014 World Cup matches, trade and security interests, Sister City relationships, and social inclusion programs. I have worked to expand the relationships between U.S. mayors and governors and their counterparts in Brazil. I have made several trips to Brazil to support this effort. In each of the twelve cities and states I have visited, I have been met with incredible enthusiasm.

Exchanges between Brazilian and U.S. subnational entities have become more numerous and robust in the past two years. We have worked with the governors of California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, and other elected officials to connect with their fellow leaders in Brazil

While all of the Brazilian officials with whom I have met have expressed the desire to collaborate in various ways, the issue of education is raised consistently. The United States and Brazil strongly support the internationalization of higher education. Both nations truly are honoring the commitments established in the U.S.-Brazil Partnership on Education by working together to achieve the shared goals of President Obama’s 100,000 Strong for the Americas initiative and Brazilian President Rousseff’s Science Without Borders. I am committed to engaging subnational entities in this effort, and am proud that we can count on their leadership and expertise to help make these initiatives successful.

For example, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick led a delegation of university leaders to Brazil last year, where they established the TOP USA-Massachusetts Program, an initiative that will promote an academic exchange of faculty and students between several Brazilian and Massachusetts universities. I had the opportunity to meet with a delegation from CAPES (the Brazilian Federal Agency for the Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education) in Washington, DC last month during their Science Without Borders exchange. They made visits to various states a top priority. During her U.S. visit next week, President Rousseff plans to visit Massachusetts where she will meet with Governor Patrick and speak at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). When the United States and Brazil initiated the Partnership on Education, this is precisely what we had in mind.

These relationships truly strengthen the U.S.-Brazil bilateral partnership. As the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games approach, and as efforts are made to prepare our young citizens for the workforce and future leadership, the importance of subnational engagement between our nations becomes increasingly palpable.

The United States and Brazil signed in 2011 a memorandum of understanding to work together in preparation for these major global sporting events. In this agreement, we recalled our prior commitments from the Joint Action Plan to promote Ethnic and Racial Equality (JAPER) and the MOU for the advancement of women. We affirmed that we view these mega events as opportunities to tackle inequality and to advance economic opportunities to ensure citizens at every level of society benefit from those opportunities.

So, as we interact with state and local leaders in Brazil and around the world, we employ Secretary Clinton’s Economic Statecraft initiative which place economics and market forces at the center of U.S. foreign policy. Economic Statecraft harnesses global economic forces to advance America’s foreign policy and employs the tools of foreign policy to shore up our economic strength. In furtherance of the Secretary’s vision, our office has leveraged U.S. state and local officials in our economic strategy in China and India, among other nations.

For instance, we supported the establishment of the U.S. China Governors Forum in 2011. It has been reported that this dialogue fostered interactions that resulted in tangible U.S. job creation.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal visited several Chinese cities and corporations in October 2011, including Sany Group, which has invested $60 million in Peachtree City, Georgia. Sany Group plans to invest $25 million more in the State of Georgia, and to hire 300 engineers over the next five years.

Similarly, North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue’s interactions with Chinese subnational leaders has reportedly led to an agreement between a Chinese and U.S. company that will create approximately 300 new jobs in North Carolina.

We collaborated with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley on his historic trade mission to India in 2011. The mission resulted in opening new doors for the State of Maryland to create jobs, bolster trade and investments, and strengthen existing business relationships.

Two Indian companies plan investments in Maryland and eight Maryland businesses signed deals with Indian partners, with a combined total of nearly $60 million in business deals for the state and several additional deals worth millions still on the horizon.

While in India, Governor O’Malley met with a number of top Indian companies to promote Maryland as an ideal location for establishing U.S. operations. He signed an agreement in New Delhi with the Federation of India Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) to create an India-Maryland Center in Maryland to boost trade between the two regions.

In addition, Maryland signed an agreement with the U.S.-India Importers Council committing Maryland and India to boost imports and exports. During the first nine months of 2011, the Port of Baltimore saw $341 in trade to and from India compared with $229 million during the same timeframe in 2010 – a 49 percent increase.

Many of the agreements entered into between Maryland and India will be of direct benefit to India. For example, CyperPoint, a Maryland cyber security company signed a $10 million contract with New Delhi-based Appin Security Group to jointly develop security solutions for mobile phones. A $20-50 million deal agreed to by Amarex Clinical Research, a Maryland company, and Scalene Cybernetics Limited, an Indian company, will create jobs both in Maryland and India.

While we are committed to continue working with state and local officials to advance U.S. economic interests, we are at the same time collaborating with these leaders on the creation of a sustainable future.

Today, we face daunting global challenges and we look forward to discussing them at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, in Rio de Janeiro in June. As we head toward an urbanized planet, we will have to build over the next 40 years, the same urban capacity as we have built over the past 4,000 years.

I believe we have the ability to meet all of these needs to build a sustainable future. We have the tools and the understanding, and we have the necessary commitment to global cooperation and collaboration. U.S. subnational leaders want to work with their foreign counterparts, with the private sector, investors, and clean technology to achieve global sustainability.

Rio+20 is about the future. The United States believes that Rio+20 should be a different kind of meeting, one that transforms the multilateral approach to sustainable development and incorporates its concepts across all sectors. It is our hope that Rio+20 will be truly inclusive of a broad collection of stakeholders, including state and local officials, civil society and the private sector.

States and cities do not face a choice between green and growth: they CAN and MUST pursue both. There is no “one-size-fits-all” model for implementing sustainability, and strategies will differ across regions as they do across countries. However, we firmly believe that local government leadership bears the fundamental responsibility to support urban sustainability.

Another fundamental message that the United States is bringing to Rio is the importance of good governance if we are to achieve a sustainable future. We need governance at all levels to be open and transparent, with robust channels for public participation, to better engage citizens and build new networks across all sectors of our societies.

So again, organizing subnational relationships promotes a deeper cultural exchange among nations, advances principles of openness, freedom, transparency and fairness in economic growth, and assists in the creation of a sustainable future.

In a 21st century world, there are no shortages of great partnerships, nor shortages of great ideas when we shore up our collective will to address the challenges we face.

By combining our strengths, we can more than double our impact to this subnational end. And the multiplier effect continues if we add philanthropies, businesses, NGOs, universities, and entrepreneurs. That’s the power of partnership at its best -- allowing us to achieve so much more together than we could apart.

As young people and the next generation who will inherit this globalized world, you possess the power to make change. You are indeed privileged to attend this fine university which affords you the opportunity to develop a global view, as well as the leadership skills to take grassroots action for peace, prosperity, and sustainability.

All over the world today our youth are taking up the batons of civic engagement and striving to build a world free of social ailments. They are springing up against dictatorships and occupying the excesses of corporate inequality; they are insisting upon a strong respect for our environment and challenging the status quo of bitter partisanship.

In order for the youth of today to truly be the leaders of tomorrow, in order for them to become effective advocates for inclusion and vanguards of social change, they would be well-advised to heed the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. All of us must continue to make those around us aware that the path to social change demands an ethic of public service, a commitment to reconciliation, and a spirit of love and mutuality.

Only 26 years old when he began preaching the gospel of tolerance, Dr. King’s principles of understanding – even now – are vital to encouraging young minds to build a compassionate world that stands up against inequality, illiteracy, hunger, and poverty, for many generations to come.

I am here today to urge you to prepare yourselves to be effective global citizens by sharpening your international perspective. I thank you for being here today to participate in this discussion of U.S. global engagement. Learning a foreign language and studying abroad are two excellent ways to expand your world view.

Secretary Clinton strongly supports study abroad programs. In her 2009 New York University commencement speech, Secretary Clinton said, “…study abroad is like spring training for this century: It helps you develop the fundamentals, the teamwork, and the determination to succeed. And we want more American students to have that opportunity.”

At the State Department, we are committed to increasing the number and the diversity of students who study in this country, as well as our American students who study abroad. We need and welcome your participation in this effort.

For our part, we recognize that finding new ways to communicate and engage with you and the young citizens of the world is critical. After all, nearly half of the world’s population -- almost 3 billion people -- is under the age of 25. The State Department is committed to strengthening our bonds with youth – reaching them wherever they are around the globe, by using every tool at our command including new media. In fact, last fall I took a leap into the 21st century by joining Twitter. Follow me at @SSRGIA so that we can stay connected.

And with that, I am happy to take your questions.