Investing in Human Capital, Collaboration, and Development Assistance in the Post-Pandemic World

Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, 2 June 2022 - The Lives and Livelihoods Fund ("LLF"),hosted a major panel discussion on the sidelines of the Islamic Development Bank ("IsDB") Group’s 2022 Annual Meetings in Sharm El Sheikh, the Arab Republic of Egypt.

The panel, which was delivered in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Local Development, saw panelists share their respective experience with the LLF over the past six years, referencing how engaging with country-level decision-makers, partners, and donors have been beneficial to investing in human capital, particularly in the current global context and post-pandemic environment. 

During the discussion, the implications and the role of multilateral development cooperation platforms in strengthening the capacity of beneficiary countries to build resilience against emergencies and their economic impact in the future were unpacked.

The panel also highlighted the importance of executing practical cooperation models to support sustainable growth and development in health, agriculture, and basic infrastructure sectors and the role such cooperation plays in realizing the SDGs' human development goals. Director-General Director-General for Country Programs, Mr. Anasse Aissami, provided opening remarks, following which a keynote address by H.E. Mahmoud Shaarawy, the Egypt’s Minister of Local Development.

Commenting on the importance of investing in human capital, H.E. Mahmoud Shaarawy expressed his appreciation for such an initiative: "The Ministry of Local Development is proud to co-organize this panel discussion. Muslim countries, like other countries, have suffered on many fronts due to the pandemic and its implications. Therefore, seeing representatives of leading development organizations an policymakers coming together today to discuss opportunities of investing in human capital is reassuring".

The Minister then also shared his perspective on implementing socio-economic projects post the pandemic, stating that despite the global disruption, sustaining focus on developing essential systems and securing livelihoods among the most vulnerable remains pivotal to mitigating against future threats: "By integrating innovative investment models that improve underlying systems of healthcare and economic empowerment, countries will be able to drive a resilient recovery from the pandemic and lay the foundation for more equitable, sustainable and robust growth".

According to Minister Shaarawy, Egypt's commitment to structural reform of the economy preceded the pandemic. He emphasized that Egyptian governmental initiatives such as the Decent Life and The Upper Egypt Local Development Program (UELDP) have introduced multiple growth opportunities to enhance competitiveness, raise living standards, and empower people to lead economic development.

The invited panelists represented a wide spectrum from the international development world. These included Dr. Abdul Hakim El Waer, Assistant Director-General of the UN FAO and Regional Representative of the Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa; Dr. Waleed Addas, Head of the LLF, and LLF donor representatives, ; Mr. James Carty, Head of Middle East and East Asia at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ; and Mr. Khemais El Gazzah, Senior Advisor at Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development.
On his part, Mr. James Carty emphasized incorporating effective partnerships to deliver results while ensuring development effectiveness principles: "The LLF represents one of the most influential investing models in human capital in the Middle East. Since its inception in 2016, the Fund has been leveraging the capacities and grants from six major development partners in the region; the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD), King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre KSRelief and Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) in addition to the funding from the IsDB."

"Through this innovative model, we don't just address an immediate need but help create fundamental change in country systems for generations." Mr. Carty added. Dr. Waleed Addas, Head of the LLF, commented: "This panel has convened in alignment with the annual meeting's theme of Beyond Recovery: Resilience and Sustainability with the aim of sharing the experiences of the LLF as well as building on these through the reflections of other members of the panel. As LLF, we strongly
believe in driving impact through collaboration, a key theme which the panelists outlined and agreed on.

" To date, LLF has 37 active projects in 22 countries to help lift the poorest out of poverty across IsDB Member Countries through projects in Health, Agriculture, and basic infrastructure.