Man smiling at CameraManuel Sager traversed the world as a diplomat, including serving as Switzerland’s ambassador to the United States from 2010 to 2014, and he still draws on those experiences in his current position as executive director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), his government’s lead agency for official development assistance.

With a staff of 1,700 and an annual budget of approximately $2.5 billion, the SDC provides short-term emergency relief in cases of armed conflicts or natural disasters, long-term assistance in 46 low- and middle-income countries to reduce poverty and social inequalities, improve health care and education, promote local enterprises, and fight corruption; and addresses the causes and effects of climate change, water shortage, food insecurity, health risks, and forced migration.

Sager, who developed expertise in finance, economics, and international humanitarian law through diplomatic portfolios that included heading communications and the Political Affairs Division in the Federal Departments of Economic and Foreign Affairs, serving in the foreign ministry’s International Law Department, and as an executive director at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London, says his current position demands a similar skill-set. Sager has taught Development Finance at Duke Law for the past five years and will be leading a course on Actors in International Development Finance for DCID and says his classroom experience has been one of the most enriching of his professional life.

“My immediate goal, of course, is to familiarize students with the concept of sustainable development and the different ways in which governments, the private sector, and nonprofit organizations work together to provide necessary financing,” he says. “However, my true motivation has always been to empower my students to make informed decisions on matters that will affect their generation and beyond.”

Sager, received a PhD from the Faculty of Law of the University of Zurich and an LLM from Duke Law School.

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