Civil society was brought to the forefront of the political agenda yesterday as President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron announced a partnership to strengthen volunteering in the global fight against poverty.
As one of six key points of collaboration announced by the world leaders during President Obama's visit to the UK, the partnership between the UK's Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) and the US Peace Corps will see the organisations combine forces with a network of more than 250,000 volunteers, past and present.
Having informally collaborated for more than a decade, VSO and the Peace Corps will capitalise on their joint work to increase their impact in reducing poverty, improve organisational effectiveness and share best practice in training, systems and innovation.
VSO chief executive, Marg Mayne, said:
"This is a landmark step forward for VSO and our transatlantic friends, Peace Corps. We have both shared insight and commitment to engaging people in the fight against poverty. Peace Corps and VSO will support each other's efforts to develop volunteer programmes that are more effective in engaging poor communities in shaping their own future."
The partnership goes hand-in-hand with a renewed commitment to the Millenium Development goals also announced yesterday. The commitment will see the UK and US work together on a range of anti-poverty measures including research, aid and investment. One of the plans involves generating $2.8bn agricultural GDP through research and development activities such as research into flood survival for crops.
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said: "Combating poverty, disaster and conflict is not just morally right, it is firmly in our national interests. It is also an expression of the fundemental values we share. The UK and US will target investment where it can do the most good and are committed to strengthening our partnership to deliver the best results for the poorest people."