Department of State Releases State of Global Partnerships Report
The Secretary's Office of Global Partnerships at the U.S. Department of State issued the latest State of Global Partnerships Report, outlining the progress of public-private partnerships in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report highlights strides made towards Goal 4, which focuses on quality education, through World Learning’s Digital Youth Virtual Exchange Program, and iEarn-USA’s BRIDGE program (Building Respect through International Dialogue and Global Education).
In 2015, 193 countries agreed to a fifteen-year agenda of the 17 SDGs – which together serve as the global framework and a plan of action for addressing a wide range of the world’s most pressing challenges, such as poverty, quality education, gender equality, and climate action. Thomas Debass, Deputy Special Representative for Global Partnerships, believes diplomacy and development goals must be a collaborative effort:
“When governments engage in cross-sectoral collaboration with non-governmental partners, we leverage each other’s unique individual resources, expertise, and experiences, better enabling us to create innovative solutions for the challenges impacting business, government and society.”
As the report outlines, SGD 4 on quality education has advanced through the Stevens Initiative. Created as a tribute to Ambassador Christopher Stevens, the program seeks to increase quality education by increasing people-to-people exchange between the US and the Middle East and North Africa by using technology and virtual exchanges. The initiative is largely funded by the Bezos Family Foundation, but also operates in partnership with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships, governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates, and The Aspen Institute.
The Stevens Initiative is a merit-based competition for organizations that administer virtual exchange programs. According to the report, among the ten recipients for 2016, ten U.S. organizations administered virtual exchanges that reached more than 21,000 students in 25 U.S. states and 17 countries in the Middle East and North Africa.