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Bill Clinton's Global Initiative: High Rollers Brainstorm Disaster Relief

3 years ago
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The Big Dog is back. To the triumphant strains of John Williams, former president Bill Clinton took to the stage to open the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting in New York on Tuesday morning. In the audience of 1,300 were 67 heads of state from 90 countries and six continents, 600 business leaders, and over 500 representatives from international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) -- as well as a fair share of celebrities, political minds and policy wonks.

CGI, as it's known to the initiated, is the sort of high-roller pow-wow where Jesse Jackson might be seen grabbing a danish alongside Maggie Gyllenhall; where Arnold Schwarzenegger and Queen Rania might share a coffee -- a heavy-hitter retreat that's just as likely to result in multi-million-dollar development projects as it is incongruous run-ins. In the next three days of panels and speeches, attendees will be treated to mind melds between everyone from Lance Armstrong, Barbra Streisand and Ashton Kutcher to Laura Bush, Michelle Obama and Bill Gates. The event has become enough of a global powerhouse that some journalists have posited it might just be the United Nations 2.0.

Clinton, always one for facts and figures, began his remarks by outlining CGI's not-insignificant accomplishments over the last five years, including over 1,900 commitments to solving the world's problems -- ranging from environmental to educational to developmental issues -- worth an estimated $63 billion.

More From Clinton Global Initiative:

- Obama's Radical Plan: Development, Not Aid
- Lance Armstrong on Cancer in the Developing World
- What if a Girl Could Change the World? What if a Video Can?
- Dirty Cookstoves Targeted in $51-Million Program

For the organization's sixth meeting -- which will last until Thursday of this week -- Clinton discussed a theme of empowering women and girls, and focused commitments on disaster relief and long-term recovery in Haiti, Pakistan and the Gulf Coast. Speaking to the forces of globalization, Clinton remarked, "The struggle of the 21st Century will be the blizzard of conflict between the negative and positive forces of interdependence," encouraging greater citizen engagement in global issues. "We need to get more people back home involved," he said.

After his remarks, Clinton brought to the stage several business representatives from companies ranging from the established (Procter and Gamble, Google) to the upstart (NRG, Earth Echo) to update the audience about commitments they had made targeting the three geographic areas. Projects ranged from new technology solutions to help flood victims in Pakistan, to solar-powered panels to light the streets in Haiti's Boucan Carre to Gulf Coast journalism scholarships for young writers aged 11 to 18.

In addition to these commitments, Clinton introduced the former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson, to discuss new initiatives targeting waste and waste disposal. Clinton underscored the severity of the problem -- citing the estimated "52 tons of garbage deposited every second," noting both its economic and environmental impacts, but was blunt in his assessment of rallying the public to act. "Very few people get turned on by closing landfills" he said, in typically wry Clintonspeak.

Robinson described several new projects, ones that ranged from environmental entrepreneurship training for women "rag pickers" in India to a "Plastic Disclosure Project" that will introduce a new "plastic footprint" akin to the "carbon footprint" now widely used as a measure of environmental impact.

From here, Clinton was onto a panel with Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO of Google; Tarja Halonen, president of Finland; and Robert McDonald, president, chairman, and CEO of Procter & Gamble. It was a wide-ranging discussion that touched upon everything from corporate responsibility, wireless services in Haiti, and the importance of empowering women in order to combat global issues. Clinton was back in his groove: an ex-president with a career's worth of knowledge, stories, and enthusiasm to share. It was the sort of talk that allowed the 42nd president to begin his comments with lines like this one: "We were in Africa and Hillary dragged me into this fancy hotel to meet with some folks to talk about genital mutilation."

In the coming days, Clinton will share the stage with President Obama and the first lady, as well as heads of state too numerous to mention. Lest anyone doubt the wizard behind this Oz, it was clear from the outset that the man of the hour remains William Jefferson Clinton. The stage, undeniably, was his -- the rest of us, merely actors.

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5 Comments

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hello massa jack

hey bill(w.c.fields look alike)why don't you take a long walk off a short pier,huh you did nothing for 8 years but ride around in air force 1 and get hair cuts on run ways and hold up air traffic for hours,you do nothing bum

September 21 2010 at 9:08 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
happylinda09

You know what Bill? You "people" have already broke America, so I would suggest that you write another one of your famous $5,000,000.00 signing bonus books and if anyone is unintelligent enough to buy it, you donate the money, and get your Chinese coffee drinking partiers whom you sold American businesses out to, to donate to your cause. And all of your glittery "stars" who are so rich from entertaining the zombies, get them to donate. Americans are going to give to America first. Oh yeah, you are always there to be in control of the worldwide donations for disaster relief. I guess that's one way to keep your coffers full, because what the people gave it for is always intercepted by a bunch of hoodlums, and not enough gets to the intended victims of disaster. Good luck with that!

September 21 2010 at 7:40 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
bikeflight

Why is Bill Clinton so idolized by the media and treated like such a hero by so many?. Why has he never been asked the question: "Isn't it probable that Al Gore would have been President if you had not fooled around with Monica (or if you had had the courage to resign)? There is no way that Al Gore would have invaded Iraq. Therefore, the blood of all the soldiers and civilians killed and maimed in Iraq is on your hands" (my son, a Marine, came home in one piece - no thanks to Bill).

September 21 2010 at 7:15 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bikeflight's comment
tausands

Don't blame Clinton for the voting irregularities of Florida...blame the Florida secretary of state who also happened to be Bush's campaign manager.

September 21 2010 at 10:27 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Hello Eileen

The goal of Clinton and the high roller elite, including Soros, is global serfdom.

September 21 2010 at 6:51 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

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