“Public-Private Partnerships: Creative Connections for Global Development” Conference

by Yuhan Liu, MSFS '16

The “Public-Private Partnerships (PPP): Creative Connections for Global Development” Conference (PPP Conference) took place in the Copley Formal Lounge at Georgetown University on October 23rd. The half-day conference successfully brought together a host of high-level speakers from different sectors, students, scholars, and professionals from all over Washington D.C. to discuss innovative ways in which PPPs help change the way we think about international development. The PPP conference was organized by the Georgetown Anti-Poverty Society (GAPS) and supported by MSFS leadership, with special thanks to Professor Erwin H.R. Tiongson. Second-year students Dipika Chawla, Lilian Lee, Il Young Shin, and Veanessa Jones were the primary event organizers.

Keynote Speaker - Rajiv Shah, M.D

The conference kicked off with an inspiring and engaging keynote address by Rajiv Shah M.D., Former Administrator of USAID. As Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Dr. Rajiv Shah led the efforts of nearly 10,000 staff in more than 70 countries around the world to advance USAID’s mission of ending extreme poverty and promoting resilient, democratic societies. Dr. Shah talked about the significance of PPP in today’s development sector. He noted that this is the first time in history we’re actually succeeding at reducing extreme poverty and we have the ability to end it altogether, we have everything necessary to create “a baseline of opportunity” for all the people of the world. Dr. Shah listed a few examples when the private sector played especially important roles in development issues, including the response to Haiti earthquake, the Somalia famine and the fight against Ebola.  

Panels Discussions - Energy, Technology & Innovation, and Health

The keynote speech was followed by three thematic panels on Energy, Technology & Innovation, and Health, which featured distinguished guests from the World Bank, International Finance Corporation, Brookings Institution, Procter & Gamble, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the United Nations Foundation, and more.

The three panels covered many key concepts, issues and questions in the realm of PPP. Panelists from different organizations shared their different insights on how to make a PPP successful. Fair allocation of risks, symmetry of information and expertise on both sides, having an appropriate and applicable project were some of the key elements defined for a successful PPP by the Energy panel. The Technology panel focused on technology’s role as a double edged sword in development. The Health Panel explored the relationship between coporations and development from both moral and economic perspectives. Panelists also answered questions from the audience on different projects, issues and areas where PPPs are involved.

Closing Speaker – Peter Raymond

The closing remarks were presented by distinguished MSFS alumnus Peter Raymond, who provided further insights on the innovations that PPPs can bring to development. He also summarized the conference with the help of MSFS first-year student Robert Mominee, whom he invited to the stage for an impromptu conversation.  Mr. Raymond is the US Leader of Pricewaterhouse Cooper's Capital Projects and Infrastructure business as well as Public Sector Financial Services. He brings more than 20 years of experience working around the world with public and private sector entities on the design, delivery and financing of large scale capital and infrastructure projects.  After his closing remarks, Mr Raymond, together with a few other panelists, each provided suggestions and insights for students who want to pursue careers in PPPs.

About GAPS

The Georgetown Anti-Poverty Society (GAPS), the organizer of the conference, connects graduate students with international development practitioners from a range of backgrounds, including the public, private, multilateral, and non-profit sectors. GAPS hosts presentations, panels, workshops, and other events in order to facilitate conversations about issues, solutions, challenges, and career opportunities in the field of development. ​GAPS supports MSFS students' academic and professional development through skill building, networking, and discussion relating to international development. Any MSFS student can join and participate in the forums and opportunities that GAPS provides.

The following students and staff also played an important role in planning the conference: Chris Clem, Jake Owens, Paige Lovejoy, Andre Pinheiro, Aisha Toor, Spencer Parsons, Mei-Ling Klein, and Sarah Krauss. The conference was co-sponsored by MOVE, the Georgetown Graduate Student Organization, and Georgetown Global Engagement Student Fund.