Reflections on the Atlanta Summit
May 24, 2012
J. Stephen Morrison
Senior Vice President, CSIS & Director, Global Health Policy Center at CSIS
On Monday, May 21, at the Atlanta Summit, CARE, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the World Affairs Council of Atlanta gathered Atlanta’s leaders and other prominent Americans to discuss sustaining U.S. leadership to improve the world’s health. It was a remarkable, exciting occasion, which we would like to share with you, knowing your interest in global health, development and U.S. foreign policy. Over the course of the day, we hosted dynamic panels on global health, water, partnerships and the American opinion climate. These featured a star cast detailed below.
There were several very notable highlights:
Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) delivered a stirring and eloquent keynote speech on U.S. interests and what it will take to continue to draw support from the American people for U.S. investments of scarce foreign assistance dollars overseas, to enhance and extend the lives of disadvantaged populations, in a time of austerity.
We issued the Atlanta Declaration, a succinct vision statement, embraced by our three organizations, and drawing upon the expertise of many Atlanta institutions. It argues that making the world healthier is rooted in Americans’ humanitarianism, and that better health makes for a safer and more secure world, where communities can flourish and productivity can rise. It lays out four concrete priority actions for the next administration and Congress: helping our developing country partners become sustainably self-reliant; building stronger, better managed international organizations – the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the GAVI Alliance, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the World Bank; convincing China, India, Brazil, and South Africa to use their voice, expertise, resources and leadership to tackle common global problems; and finally, integrating safe water, sanitation and hygiene into our health approaches. That long overdue change will improve nutrition and food security, lower child mortality, and better control infectious disease.
We unveiled a powerful 9 minute video to accompany the Declaration: it features almost 20 diverse senior leaders, the majority from Atlanta, speaking to why Atlanta is such a center of excellence and authority on matters of global health and water: as a global hub of leading health and development organizations, with a legacy of struggle for civil rights and social justice; as the home to innovative partnerships across government, business, universities, and the non-profit sector, that enhance lives. The leaders on the video speak to the remarkable health achievements the United States has championed in the decade, the outstanding challenges before us, and the way ahead.
We released a statement by the Atlanta Water and Health Working Group on the extensive expertise that Atlanta’s many cooperating institutions possess in linking water, sanitation and hygiene to improvements in health. It lays out the framework for expanded future cooperation.
At the Atlanta Summit, the Kaiser Family Foundation released the results of a major new national survey of American opinion that illuminates how Americans view U.S. foreign, and what this will mean for future policymakers seeking to cement American support.
And of course, we created four dynamic panels -- on U.S. achievements in global health, elevating water, sanitation and hygiene and integrating them into global health approaches, creating successful partnerships, and understanding the dynamic, evolving American opinion climate.
We hope you will find the find the results of this gathering valuable – especially as we all weigh the future of U.S. national policies, how to focus our efforts most productively in the next administration and Congress, and the special contributions Altanta’s people and institutions will make into the future.