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Gates Forum: Why Reinvigorating US Development Assistance is Essential to America’s National Interests

Date & Time

May. 16, 2024
11:00am – 12:00pm ET


Online Only


In an increasingly competitive global landscape, America must articulate its value proposition as a preferred development partner. To do so, US leaders should first go back to the basics: strategic clarity about what they want development assistance to achieve, where, how, and why. Second, they need to strengthen and expand America’s development toolkit to ensure it is fit for purpose in crowding in civil society and private sector partners, coordinating well with allies, and responding effectively to countries. 

In December 2023, former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates convened leaders from across government, the private sector, and the academy to tackle these questions and more. His Gates Global Policy Center recently published a menu of recommendations to modernize and revitalize America’s development toolkit, which was inspired by the senior leader forum and an extensive research volume prepared by the AidData research lab at William & Mary’s Global Research Institute

In this signature conversation, Secretary Gates and Wilson Center President & CEO Mark A. Green reflected on what is needed to revitalize America’s development toolkit and why now is the time for action. Dr. Nancy J. Walker, Senior Advisor for Programs and Public Policy fellow provided remarks and Samantha Custer, AidData Director of Policy Analysis and lead architect of the Gates Forum research volume, moderated the discussion of the new report and its long-term implications. 


Headshot of Samantha Custer

Samantha Custer

Director of Policy Analysis, AidData


Headshot of Robert Gates

Secretary Robert M. Gates

US Secretary of Defense (2006-2011); Chairman, Gates Global Policy Center
Ambassador Mark Green

Ambassador Mark A. Green

President & CEO, Wilson Center

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