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Aid and multilateralism in an era of populist politics

Time (GMT +00) 18:30 19:30
Hero image description: Teresia Oloitai sells corn at the Maasai market in Tanzania Image credit:USAID/Morgana Wingard


Gayle Smith @GayleSmith - President and CEO of the ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development



Christina Bennett @cr_bennett - Head, Humanitarian Policy Group, ODI


The relationship between a state’s foreign policy and its role in humanitarian action is getting increasingly complex, particularly in relation to the changing global and regional order and the evolving threats to national security. Populist movements and leaders are thriving, challenging the status quo, multilateralism and overseas aid spending.

In the United States, the Trump Administration has made deep cuts to aid, threatened withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, and more recently, from UNESCO and the Iran nuclear deal and challenged the role of the United Nations and multilateral institutions more generally. In America and elsewhere, world leaders are questioning the effectiveness of aid.

Delivering our annual lecture this year is Gayle Smith, the President and CEO of the ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development. Join us as she discusses the future of humanitarian aid and multilateralism in an era of populist politics and global volatility.

Speaker biography

Gayle E. Smith is the President and CEO of the ONE Campaign. She served as a top advisor on development issues for two American presidents and is one of the world’s leading experts on global development. She has an unparalleled expertise on development and democracy issues, and an extraordinary network of relationships across the African continent and around the world. In her most recent role, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Smith led a staff of more than 10,000 people working to end extreme poverty, foster sustained and inclusive economic growth, and promote resilient, democratic societies all over the world.

Smith had previously served as special assistant to President Obama and senior director for development and democracy at the National Security Council, and as special assistant to President Clinton and senior director for African affairs at the National Security Council. Before her work on the NSC, Smith founded the sustainable security program at the Center for American Progress, and co-founded the ENOUGH project and the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network. She also worked as a journalist and with NGOs in Africa for more than 20 years. Smith is originally from Bexley, Ohio and earned a B.A. from the University of Colorado.

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