On Tuesday morning, President Clinton opened the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and framed the discussions to take place in the coming days. He announced that 67 current and former heads of state, more than 600 business leaders, and more than 500 NGOs and philanthropic and development experts were attending CGI 2010. This week CGI attendees will make new connections, share insights and ideas, and forge partnerships that will strengthen their work.
"CGI members come from 90 different countries, speak many languages, work in all sectors, and approach problems in unique ways,” President Clinton said. “But together, their desire and capacity to build a better world for our children and grandchildren has resulted in 1,946 commitments, valued at $63 billion dollars, which have already improved nearly 300 million lives."
Those joining President Clinton to kick things off were:
- Melinda French Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Tarja Halonen, President of the Republic of Finland
- Bob McDonald, Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, Procter & Gamble
- Eric Schmidt, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Google Inc.
Highlights from the opening plenary include:
- Bob McDonald reinforced the role of the private sector in development and talked about the importance of any organization to make its “purpose pervasive.” McDonald discussed how P&G lives this philosophy in how they do business and approach social good. McDonald mentioned that 51 of the largest economies are companies, not countries, and 40 percent of all global trade is done by companies, not countries. It was a reminder that while companies must deliver profits to shareholders, and have an interest in building new markets, they also have established in-roads for delivering services and support for public good. We must bring the private sector into the development equation more effectively and substantively if we want to have long-standing and wide-reaching impact.
- Melinda Gates focused on the role of women in building up communities and combating poverty. She said that while progress has been made against the MDGs, more can and must be done and it should involve women. She said that we must put the power in women’s hands and give them the tools and resources to be empowered, educated and healthy. She said that if we are going to meet the Millennium Development Goals, we “have to go with women.”
- President Tarja Halonan’s Finland boasts among the highest rates of education, economic development and health of any country worldwide. President Halonan highlighted the successful collaboration of her government with Finland’s private sector and NGO community. By having strong public and private sectors, Finland has shown that growth and progress emerge and are sustained in the long run.
- Eric Schmidt said mobile devices are among the most important achievements in technology, and allow the world to be ONE world. When President Clinton asked about affordability of mobile devices, Schmidt said the prices are getting pushed lower and lower each day. He said the development leaders and governments should embrace mobile technology and digital platforms because they serve as the lifeline of a community. For example, instead of spending money on textbooks that are bulky, expensive, not accessible and quickly outdated, leaders need to look at investing in technology-based platforms for education. Schmidt talked about how after the Haiti earthquake and Pakistan flood, it was mobile technology that served as the lifeline for those affected because mobile phone networks remained operational.
The role of women and girls, use of technology and new digital innovations, economic development and creation of efficient public-private approaches to tackle global challenges are CGI focus areas this week. President Clinton recognized that the role of women and girls is a dominant theme at the meeting, and was frustrated by the ongoing violence and abuse that women face worldwide.
“There are still a lot of places in the world where women are part human and part property. I think all of us can talk about that, and challenge people to think about what is truly going on in their minds and hearts that this is still a problem in the world and that we have to come here and have a separate section on this.”
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