Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds foreign assistance, hosted a forum Oct. 28 in Wilmington with the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition to discuss the importance of investing in America’s civilian tools overseas to strengthen U.S. national security, create new opportunities for Delaware businesses and reinforce America’s role as a global leader.

Coons was joined at the event by CNN’s Dana Bash, former Rep. Ed Royce, R-California, Nobel Prize-winning economist Michael Kremer and more than 400 political, business and community leaders.

“U.S. diplomacy and development programs address the root causes of the world’s toughest challenges, from poverty to pandemics to climate change, while helping to advance American values abroad,” said Coons. “I’m proud to have worked with the administration and a bipartisan group of colleagues to pass legislation to make foreign assistance more effective and efficient and help Delaware businesses stay competitive overseas. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will continue to work across the aisle to protect our critical investments in the State Department and USAID and ensure that the U.S. maintains its position as a world leader.”

Coons and Royce have been long-time champions of the global development agenda and protected funding for America’s International Affairs Budget.

With more than 108,000 jobs in Delaware tied to international trade, and Delaware exports to foreign markets totaling more than $4.7 billion a year, America’s global leadership isn’t just a matter of national security. It’s also a strategic economic issue for the First State.

“It’s not just a matter of research, it is not the government just spending taxpayer dollars, it’s finding out the most efficient way to do [development], not necessarily with government money,” said Kremer. “This approach has such bipartisan support, because this is very focused on evidence. It’s very focused on cost effectiveness… I think there are a lot of people out there who care deeply about [development] issues and want to do the right thing.”

The forum also brought together leaders from the private sector alongside the veteran, NGO, faith and diaspora communities. Through panels and breakout sessions, the forum provided insights on a diverse array of foreign policy topics from climate change and conservation to global health and food security.

The event marks the third annual mid-Atlantic summit hosted by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition in Delaware, building on the past success of Coons’ Opportunity: Africa summit over the past decade.