Clinton Initiative Battles Poverty

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“CGI tackles big global challenges with the conviction that, regardless of size or scope, they will yield to concerted action and innovative partnerships that include individuals, NGOs, businesses and governments,� said President Clinton.

(Bill Clinton).

The 2nd Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) officially launched yesterday morning in midtown Manhattan with the Opening Plenary Session: Urgent Issues & Innovative Solutions. 

Over a thousand leaders of business, government and non-governmental organizations attended the opening session, in addition to nearly 50 current and former heads of state. At the plenary session, President Clinton announced the first five commitments of 2006, including a commitment by First Lady Laura Bush to provide thousands of citizens in sub-Saharan Africa with safe, clean drinking water.

“CGI tackles big global challenges with the conviction that, regardless of size or scope, they will yield to concerted action and innovative partnerships that include individuals, NGOs, businesses and governments,� said President Clinton. “There is no better time to forge those partnerships or to take that action than right now.�

Speakers at the Opening Plenary included Mrs. Bush and President Clinton. Panelists included President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President Pervez Musharraf and President �lvaro Uribe Vélez. Thomas Friedman, Foreign Affairs Columnist for the New York Times, moderated the panel discussion.

Mrs. Bush announced the first commitment of the day, a $16.4 million combined pledge from USAID, PEPFAR, The Case Foundation and the MCJ Foundation. These funds will bring the PlayPump water system to more than 1,000 communities and schools in Sub-Saharan Africa in order to provide safe, clean drinking water to thousands of people. Play Pumps use merry-go-rounds to pump water for an entire community. “Play Pumps are fueled by an endless energy source: children and play,� said Mrs. Bush.

In addition to the First Lady’s announcement, President Clinton highlighted four more commitments, one in each of four focus areas: Climate Change: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) are doubling their commitment to Global Greentech Innovation with an additional $100 million in support of breakthrough ventures in renewable energy, conservation and low carbon technologies. KPCB is also introducing the KPCB Prize for Greentech Policy Innovation recognizing and rewarding outstanding green policy innovators. Finally, KPCB is expanding its Pandemic Preparedness Fund to fund four additional projects targeting global infectious disease.

Global Health: Based on its highly effective health improvement and poverty eradication interventions in Bangladesh and Afghanistan, the Bangladesh Royal Advancement Committee (BRAC) will put $250 million toward programs in Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Kenya and Nigeria. These programs will target increasing access to medical care and malaria prevention, expanding primary education programs, sustainable and equitable agricultural activities and microfinance programs aimed at stimulating local entrepreneurship through a sustainable financial mechanism.

Poverty Alleviation: The First American Corporation will commit $1 million in funding and in-kind licensing contributions to empowering people in underdeveloped countries with legal title to their land. A multi-disciplinary design team has been identified to create the first level of requirements needed to construct a universally adaptable land record system for deployment in countries seeking to maintain land transfer, ownership and lien information.

Mitigating Religious and Ethnic Conflict: Gadi Kenny provided $450,000 in funding to Abraham’s Vision to fund the groundbreaking 2006 Vision Program. Co-led by Jews and Palestinians, Abraham’s Vision educators took a group of 12 pairs of Jewish and Palestinian American university students to the Balkans (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia) to engage in conflict analysis and transformation. By exploring the components of the Balkan conflicts, students were able to re-examine the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and re-develop their notions of themselves, the ‘other’, and the world at large.

The Clinton Global Initiative is a non-partisan event with an emphasis on results. During the three-day conference, attendees will participate in workshops and meetings focused on four main topics: energy & climate change; mitigating religious and ethnic conflict; poverty alleviation; and global health. Attendees will make specific commitments to address one of the topics covered and will report to President Clinton on the progress made throughout the course of the coming year. Attendees who do not make or keep their commitment will not be invited to attend future meetings.

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