The Center is about building partnerships with like-minded individuals and organizations to educate the public, create a new cadre of leaders, and develop effective policy options.  It also will build bridges across partisan and ideological divides and identify areas in which disparate groups can work together.

I have noted in other venues that our current partisan atmosphere is unique in character if not intensity.  It is unlikely to recede without a concerted effort to change our political culture and institutions.  The Lugar Center, with its staff of policy experts, will lead and coordinate collaborative engagement in the policy community.  By bringing together experts and policy makers, we seek to develop new ideas, based on sound evidence, to create opportunities for consensus building.

WMD Security.  The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction remains the number one security threat facing the United States and the international community.  The Lugar Center seeks to educate citizens, students, and leaders on the risks of proliferation of nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological weapons and materials.  The Center emphasizes especially the security of these weapons and the construction of international arms control agreements and norms designed to reduce WMD and prevent their use.  It works to ensure that the international community maintains the technological and human capabilities and political will necessary to peacefully inventory, inspect, safeguard, and deactivate weapons of mass destruction.

Global Food Security.  The world’s population is expected to grow from 7 billion in 2012 to 9 billion by 2050, requiring farmers to increase production by an estimated 60 percent in the face of growing water and resource scarcity, climate change, and increased weather variability.  These immense demands, coupled with the reality that almost one billion people already suffer from food insecurity, underscore the centrality of agriculture, nutrition, biodiversity, functional markets, and trade to poverty alleviation.  Food security also must be at the forefront of foreign policy debates, because it will deeply affect the core U.S. foreign policy goals of a more prosperous, peaceful, and stable world. The Center will work to improve understanding of food security challenges and to foster a more productive and bipartisan debate. Current disagreements in this area encompass views on the role of foreign assistance, the value of business engagement, and the use of advanced technologies.  Our view is that these are not either-or decisions.  One can value the contributions of genetically modified seeds and agricultural business at the same time one advocates for the welfare of smallholder farmers and improvements in neglected indigenous crops.

Aid Effectiveness.  It is vital that all of us use every opportunity to explain why foreign assistance is an indispensable tool of U.S. foreign policy and to support reforms of foreign assistance that ensure its effectiveness and transparency.  The current period of budget austerity requires that we identify the approaches that have the greatest promise of alleviating poverty and hunger.  Even in the worst of times, the United States remains a wealthy nation with interests in every corner of the globe. The Center will strongly advocate for the modernization of U.S. foreign assistance programs and holding government programs accountable for objectives and results, including those outlined in the President’s Policy Directive on Global Development.

The Lugar Center looks forward to contributing to solutions related to these and other issues.  I hope you will join us as partners as we work together to provide solutions to today’s global challenges.