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Remarks by CEO Alice Albright at MCC: Celebrating Partnerships and the Global Goals

September 18, 2023

As prepared by Alice Albright

I want to begin by thanking all of you for joining us here this evening. A special thank you to our co-hosts from the U.N. Foundation who work at the forefront of mobilizing ideas, people, and resources to help the UN tackle some of our greatest collective challenges, including the Sustainable Development Goals and the existential threat of climate change. I’d also like to congratulate UNF as they celebrate their 25th anniversary.

I want to set the stage by saying that this evening is about three key themes: First, this is the kick-off event for the celebrations related to MCC’s 20th birthday that is coming up in January. We are proud of what we have accomplished, but we are already looking ahead to the next 20 years of development impact. Second, collectively we must renew our drive and commitment to achieving the SDGs, and MCC has a unique role to play to help meet the challenges ahead. Finally, sustained progress towards the SDGs is going to take partnership and a multidimensional approach, and we are proud of the role we play as part of the US Government whole-of-government development effort.

As we reach the halfway point of the Sustainable Development Goals, it is more important than ever to re-commit ourselves, as the global community, to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and its pledge to leave no one behind. With that in mind, I’m honored to introduce a monumental leader who shepherded the global agreement around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the creation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

My dear friend, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, has demonstrated inspiring leadership of the UN development system. She not only coordinates development activities across the UN system, but more importantly, she has the challenging job of rallying and inspiring all global actors towards achieving the 2030 agenda. We’re incredibly fortunate to have her join us at this pivotal moment. Please welcome the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group, Ms. Amina Mohammed.

Thank you for your remarks, Deputy Secretary-General Mohammed. It’s clear that we’re facing huge challenges in the road ahead. And I would like to make special note of your recommendations to: (1) focus on long-term impact while avoiding short-termism, (2) embrace evidence-based policymaking, and (3) focus on implementing lessons learned when it comes to aid effectiveness. That is what MCC is all about, so those are certainly recommendations we can rally behind.

At MCC, we have always taken issues related to aid effectiveness seriously, especially when it comes to how our agency builds meaningful partnerships with our country partners. Country ownership has always been - and always will be - a defining principle of how MCC does business. To us, ownership means asking our country partners to determine the nature of the investment in line with their own development priorities. We work closely with our country partners to determine what sectors and projects to fund, based on what they know will drive their economies forward and what they are hearing from their citizens. A perfect example of this is our partnership with Malawi.

Less than a year ago, we signed a compact with His Excellency President Chakwera and Secretary of State Blinken. It is now my great honor to introduce His Excellency Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi, and ask him to provide a few remarks about his ongoing partnership with MCC.

Thank you, President Chakwera. We are extremely proud of the partnership we have developed between our two countries, and we look forward to delivering results for the people of Malawi.

Given that we’re now approaching our 20th birthday, please allow me to say a few words about where MCC started, what we’ve learned over the first 20 years, and where we plan to go over the next 20 years. We often joke at MCC that “Challenge is our middle name,” and that’s undoubtedly true. We’ve leaned into every challenge along the way this first 20 years.

But it is often overlooked that “Millennium” is our first name. That’s because MCC was born in the early 2000s, when the Millennium Development Goals represented a promise that the world could work together to address global challenges and improve lives. MCC was created amidst this era of optimism – anything was possible. Around this same time, there was also a new international policy discussion around aid effectiveness.

Building on decades of lessons learned – and frankly, many donor failures along the way – there was an exciting new momentum around best practices for donors to test, operationalize, and scale. MCC’s founders recognized all the challenges that other donors had faced, particularly during the Cold War. They used these lessons to focus the MCC model on delivering development impact rather than the traditional justifications for foreign aid, such as national security and geopolitical imperatives or in pursuit of mercantilist domestic economic interests.

MCC was a bold experiment in testing the new aid effectiveness principles of the MDG era in pursuit of MDG 1 in the most effective way we knew how – reducing poverty through economic growth. We operationalized these principles in a few different ways. First, by being selective in partnering with countries where can achieve impact: we partner with countries that are deeply committed to ruling justly and investing in their people. Second, through country ownership: MCC’s partner countries are in the drivers’ seat for our grant’s development and implementation — from choosing the investment to managing implementation. Third, by being mutually accountable for results. With our partners, we commit to shared indicator targets up front and rigorously measure progress over time, which includes adapting along the way to maximize our impact. Finally, through an insistence on radical transparency. MCC not only evaluates every single project we fund – with about 40 percent of those evaluations being impact evaluations – but we also post all the data and findings on our website. Good, bad, or ugly.

But 20 years ago, these ideas were still just ideas. Some might even say they were crazy ideas. And to be honest, MCC was one of the few donors to go all-in on operationalizing and implementing these principles, and we stuck with it through all kinds of challenges. But now, twenty years later, I’m pleased to report that the experiment worked – and we know this because we’ve evaluated every program.

MCC now has a 20-year history of delivering high-impact investments that have been catalytic in supporting our country partners to meet their SDG goals. MCC has invested about $16 billion in grant financing by partnering with nearly 50 well-governed democracies, which is expected to lift nearly 323 million people out of poverty. And we recently did a mapping of all our historical investments to the SDGs to understand how MCC is supporting the development goals of our partner countries. MCC has invested across all 17 SDGs around the world.

We not only found that about 92 percent of our country-led investments were infrastructure (SDG 9) but we also found that our projects supported about seven SDGs each, on average. That is, MCC’s investments have been multi-dimensional and interrelated, in line with the spirit of the SDGs. You can read all about our contributions in an SDG booklet we have just posted online – there is a QR code on the back of this flyer that will direct you to that short document.

At its core, MCC is an agency whose creation was informed by and inspired by the global push for sustainable development in the early 2000s. As we now approach our 20th anniversary, we’re proud to play a unique role as part of the US Government development effort. While we will celebrate our impact and all that we’ve accomplished, we’re also plotting a path forward for the future of the agency. As we look to the next 20 years, MCC will focus on the where, the what, and the how.

First, the where: As the nature and location of global poverty evolves, we must go broader and deeper to bring MCC’s tools to bear in more places around the world – whether that’s a program focused on regional integration or an urban investment or a pocket of poverty in an Upper Middle-Income Country. MCC will continue to apply its data-driven model to identify the greatest opportunities to reduce poverty through economic growth. Guided by MCC’s framework for selectivity and accountability, we will meet countries where they are on their development journey with effective partnerships.

The second piece is the what: Given the that the global development landscape has changed dramatically since MCC’s inception, we must embrace a broader range of interventions to address new challenges and opportunities. We will respond to countries’ needs by adjusting and adapting the tools within MCC’s model – whether that’s a focus on the digital economy or public financial management or climate-smart infrastructure.

The third and final piece is the how: Applying nearly two decades of lessons learned, we will use innovative approaches to deploy MCC resources that are fit for purpose. We will bolster our processes and operations, while investing in our people and our partnerships to improve MCC’s efficiency, speed, and impact. As we approach our 20th anniversary, we want to share our story and engage the broader development community in a dialogue. And we want to build on our accumulated learning to maximize our development impact and evolve to meet the global challenges of the future.

Fortunately, we already have a roadmap for the global challenges of the future in the SDG agenda. As we have illustrated in our SDG booklet – MCC has demonstrated that we can make progress with our country partners towards achieving the 2030 Agenda. By paying attention to the data and evidence and listening to the needs of our partners, MCC has built a portfolio across the whole of the SDGs. At the heart of our success is the quality of the partnerships we create. For example, just last year, MCC signed a $420 million grant agreement with the Government of Timor-Leste to deliver inclusive growth by making safe, clean water available to residents, while also improving secondary education at every secondary school in the country.

Now, let me introduce the President of the Better World Campaign and Senior Vice President of the United Nations Foundation, Peter Yeo, who will provide brief remarks then introduce His Excellency, Jose Ramos-Horta, President of Timor-Leste.

Thank you, President Ramos-Horta. We are very excited to start implementing our compact with you, and we appreciate you joining us today.

Finally, I must recognize the United States’ whole-of-government effort. Just as we depend on our country partners, we also depend on our US Government partners - not least of which through our Board of Directors, including our USG colleagues at State, USAID, Treasury, and USTR.

For nearly 75 years, the United States has invested in global development. We have supported efforts to end extreme poverty, protect the planet, secure peace, and improve the lives of people around the world. The 2022 National Security Strategy (NSS) reiterated the importance of development cooperation, recommitting the United States to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – through inclusive development partnerships.

Let me say that again – The United States is committed to the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, both at home and abroad. The United States remains committed to efforts that more effectively promote poverty reduction through inclusive economic growth, while better addressing global challenges, such as climate change, pandemics, and fragility and conflict.

It is now my honor introduce Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, Richard R. Verma.

Thank you, Deputy Secretary Verma for your remarks, and thank you to all our incredible speakers. I’d like to say a special thank you to Ford Foundation for the beautiful location. And, I’d like to thank UNF for helping us co-host this event, especially to Vice President Sofia Borges, Senior Director Julie Kofoed, and your teams. Over the course of this anniversary year, we will have more events to come – celebrating MCC’s 20 years of impact and showcasing our vision for the future of the agency.

For more information about our 20th anniversary year, please go to Thank you all again for being here tonight and for your commitment to make this world a more equitable, healthy, and prosperous place. This is the conclusion of our formal program – I welcome everyone to join us for the reception.