While Washington and a rural village in Africa are still as far apart in miles as they were fifty years ago, modern technology and the global economy have made them close neighbors. What happens in one area of the world affects us here at home. That’s why it is so important for us to make strategic investments in our development and diplomatic programs, as they provide tremendous returns for not only our national interests but also our values as a nation.
Just as our world is interconnected, the work of America's businesses and humanitarian organizations agree that helping children and families in the developing world improve their lives is not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do for our national security and economic prosperity.
Save the Children began its work in America during the Great Depression to meet the needs of children as our entire nation struggled to get back on its feet. Today the organization operates in over 120 countries with the same mission of providing opportunities and support for children so that they may survive and reach their full potential.
Working to alleviate poverty, illiteracy, and poor health is an essential building block for stable families and societies, and the support from individual donors, corporate partners like The Coca-Cola Company, and from U.S. foreign assistance allows Save the Children to carry out its important work. The more stable societies are, the less likely they are to succumb to extremism and terrorism.
American businesses around the world are doing their part as global citizens. The Coca-Cola Company is the largest employer in Africa and a leader in providing people with opportunities overseas to earn a better living, as well as benefitting our economy here at home through expanded markets for U.S. goods and services.
But American businesses cannot expand overseas alone. To be successful, Coca-Cola requires clean water, electricity, and roads-the kind of infrastructure our international affairs programs support in the developing world. That is why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is such big supporter of the International Affairs Budget, and why Coca-Cola is partnering with USAID to provide access to water for millions in Africa. It's just good for business.
Most Americans don't realize the International Affairs Budget, which funds our development and diplomatic programs, is just one percent of the federal budget. But for so little, that one percent does so much for so many. This is why Save the Children and The Coca-Cola Company are part of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), a network of 400 businesses and NGOs, national security and foreign policy experts, and community leaders who support a strong and effective International Affairs Budget and greater American engagement in the world.
We share this view with politicians and foreign policy experts from both sides of the aisle who understand we must elevate and strengthen development and diplomacy to their proper positions as equal pillars alongside defense.
Tonight, the USGLC will pay tribute to Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) for their leadership and expertise in American foreign policy. These two extraordinary men have worked together to ensure America's tools of development and diplomacy are results-driven and deliver real returns for American taxpayers.
Our work around the world tells us investments in developing countries are the right thing to do and the smart thing to do. Organizations like Save the Children and businesses like The Coca-Cola Company are leading the way in public-private partnerships to maximize the impact our international affairs programs have. When we all work together, we can go a long way to ensuring a better, safer world.
Miles is the president and CEO of Save the Children. Tuggle is the senior vice president and chief public affairs & communications officer of the Coca-Cola Company. Both organizations are members of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, and the authors are co-chairs of the USGLC's Tribute Dinner to Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on July 17, 2012.