March 30, 2021

New Global Needs Assessment Surveys Experts and Identifies Additional International Aid to Protect American Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A needs-based assessment coordinated by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) with dozens of experts in the international advocacy and business community provides new insights about the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the investment levels across the International Affairs Budget needed to protect the health, safety, and economic interests of the American people.

Specifically, partners across the national security, foreign policy, and global health community identified at least $14 billion in new resources to support U.S. economic, health, and national security interests and mitigate the global health and humanitarian impacts of the pandemic – from record famine and poverty rates to destabilizing backsliding for women and girls, democratic institutions, and infectious disease prevention.

Key investment areas identified across the assessment are:

  • Investing in pandemic preparedness;
  • Responding to global health and humanitarian crises; and
  • Bolstering American economic competitiveness & helping countries on their journey to self-reliance.

“There’s no question that the world has been turned upside down since last year’s budget cycle – with COVID-19 creating unprecedented global challenges that directly impact every American family,” said Liz Schrayer, President and CEO of USGLC. “The global stakes couldn’t be higher for America to step up with additional resources alongside our partners – and doing so will require Congress and the Administration to ensure that the relatively small but critical investment in development and diplomacy truly reflects the urgency of our nation’s health and economic recovery.”

Key Quotes

External stakeholders also offered comments on the importance of international investments in responding to global challenges affecting American families and communities like never before:

Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.): “COVID-19 has had destabilizing effects on regions around the world — causing hunger and food insecurity, while also displacing families and creating opportunities for violent extremism to take root. This is particularly troubling in areas where there’s already unrest and conflict, like sub-Saharan Africa, which saw an increase in violent extremist attacks by 40% in the first few months of COVID-19. The pandemic has highlighted importance of global investments to stabilize these communities, which simultaneously protects Americans.”

Mayor Steve Benjamin and Senator Norm Coleman: “If there were any doubts that what happens overseas impacts us at home, then the COVID-19 pandemic has erased all of them. We’ve seen the impacts in communities across America — everything from our health and well-being to our jobs and economic stability. The global challenges — and the stakes for American families and communities — have never been higher. We hope Congress and the Administration take a serious look at this assessment in determining how best to invest in America’s International Affairs Budget to deliver for the health, security, and economic interests of American families.” (Benjamin and Coleman are Co-Chairs of the USGLC Board of Directors.)

Raj Shah, President of the Rockefeller Foundation: “The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the need for greater global health security. With more than 500,000 lives lost here and over 2.7 million lives lost around the world, U.S. investments in global health security are all the more critical to counter COVID-19 and its greater impacts on our economy and security. They’re necessary to stop the spread of new variants, shore up weak health systems, and ensure we do not lose decades of progress on global health—including in the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. This assessment is a critical tool in making vital budget decisions that will have long term impacts on America’s global health, economic, and national security.”

Michelle Nunn, President and CEO, CARE USA: “Over the last year, we’ve seen how COVID-19 has exacerbated health, humanitarian, and economic inequalities around the world — undercutting much of the progress we’ve made against poverty, hunger, and health security. What’s particularly concerning is how women, girls, and vulnerable populations are bearing the brunt of these impacts. We need strategic investments in America’s global leadership to help tackle these challenges head on — investments that are also critical to help protect and advance the safety, health and economic recovery of families across our own country.”

Myron Brilliant, Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “The U.S. economy has taken a major hit in the wake of COVID-19—as have many economies around the world. With global growth contracting by over 4% in 2020 and over 95% of the world’s consumers living outside the U.S., action is needed to get both the U.S. and global economy back on track. We must invest in strengthening trade ties and expanding export opportunities and market access for U.S. businesses.”

USGLC Needs-Based Assessment Overview

The global COVID-19 pandemic has erased any doubt that what happens abroad directly impacts the health, security, and economic interests of every American family. From new strains of the virus to rising authoritarianism, climate change, economic competition from countries like China, poverty, hunger, conflict, fragility, corruption, and migration, America is facing multiple complex challenges that require U.S. leadership and engagement to advance and protect our interests and values. At the same time, funding for America’s development and diplomacy programs has not kept pace with these growing challenges and is down by half as a percentage of GDP from its peak during the Cold War-era Reagan Administration.

To meet the challenges of the global pandemic, prevent future pandemics, and address today’s growing global threats, this needs assessment identifies at least $14 billion in new resources across the International Affairs Budget for FY22. The prospective resources identified here would represent less than 0.3% of total federal spending — a small investment with big impact for American families. Key areas prioritized for increased resources include:

  1. Investing in pandemic preparedness to not only stop the spread of COVID-19, but also to stop new pandemics before they emerge.
  • According to the International Chamber of Commerce, failing to ensure an equitable global distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine could cost the global economy $9 trillion as secondary effects to routine health treatments and immunizations will devastate vulnerable populations.
  • According to a study by GAVI, the vaccine alliance, every $1 spent on vaccinations delivers a return on investment of $54 in terms of the cost of illness prevented and the value of lives saved and lived longer.
  • All too often, once the immediate threat from a pandemic passes, investments and lessons learned are not sustained – as we saw after the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 that left us unprepared for COVID-19 in 2020.
  1. Responding to global health and humanitarian crises, many of which have been directly or indirectly exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and are impacting the health, safety, and economic recovery here at home.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified health, humanitarian, and economic needs around the world – threatening to devastate countries with fragile health systems and set back decades of progress on hunger, conflict, disease, extreme poverty, and democracy and human rights, among others.
  • Without additional health and development resources, COVID-19 could push as many as 160 million more people into extreme poverty in 2021, according to the World Bank.
  • The number of people going hungry increased from a record 135 million in 2019 to more than 270 million in 2020, according to the World Food Program, with 2021 expected to be even worse, leading to greater human suffering as well as increased instability in the world.
  1. Bolster American economic competitiveness and help countries on their journey to self-reliance, creating long-term security and economic partners for America.
  • Of the top 15 American export markets, 11 were former recipients of U.S. foreign assistance. For example, as the Chinese government seeks to expand its influence in Asia, the U.S. has partnered with Vietnam to improve trade regulations and commerce. As a result, its market has opened and improved dramatically so that U.S. exports to Vietnam have increased by over 700% since signing a Trade and Investment Partnership in 2007.
  • Every $1 the U.S. spends to prevent conflict saves an estimated $16 in response costs, according to the Institute for Economics and Peace.
  • Climate resilient growth could lead to $26 trillion in net economic benefits by 2030, according to the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

Given the magnitude of these challenges, we urge Congress to make a down payment in FY22 on the international affairs resources identified in this assessment that are needed to advance U.S. interests and values and protect the health, security, and economic interests of all Americans.

The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition ( is a broad-based influential network of 500 businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic, military, and community leaders in all 50 states who support strategic investments to elevate development and diplomacy alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world.