Clinton Gets US$2 Billion in Pledges to Fight World Woes
Author: Michelle Nichols
The pledges to combat illness, poverty, religious and ethnic conflict and climate change were made during the first day of the second annual Clinton Global Initiative in New York, which last year raised a total US$2.5 billion over three days.
Among those helping generate ideas and money at the summit were billionaire businessmen Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Richard Branson and 50 current and former heads of state, along with entertainer Barbra Streisand.
"The rich world is where the expertise is, so bringing those innovations and putting them in a form that can be applied globally, that's where people can make such a difference," Gates told the summit, attended by 1,000 people.
"In many cases it takes huge amounts of dollars, it takes ways of organizing people, pilot projects and that's why I think the variety of people here at this event is such an exciting thing."
The 107 pledges received included a promise by microfinance service provider Opportunity International to provide US$500 million in loans, savings, insurance, and training to help 50 million people work their way out of poverty around the world.
The Global Partnership for Afghanistan will invest US$450,000 in Afghanistan to launch 100 commercial orchard and woodlot businesses, while US Doctors for Africa will spend US$75 million to deploy 200 mobile clinics and 2000 volunteer medical professionals throughout sub-Saharan Africa by 2011.
TALK AND ACTION
The New York-based initiative grew out of Clinton's frustration as president between 1993 and 2001 at attending conferences on important world issues that were simply all talk and no action.
"While we certainly like commitments with lots of zeros behind them, when you consider the hundreds that were made and kept over this past year, some of those with smaller budgets had very large impacts indeed," Clinton said.
The 2006 summit was opened by Clinton and US first lady Laura Bush and a discussion between Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
The first lady announced the first commitment - US$10 million from the US government to kick-start a US$60 million public/private project to build children's merry-go-rounds in Africa, which pump clean drinking water into a storage tank.