DECEMBER 3, 2008
(STAR) By Doreen G. Yu - That is the mantra of the Clinton Global Initiative, which is having its first gathering outside the US from Dec. 2 to 3 in Hong Kong.

The CGI is a project of the William J. Clinton Foundation, and was first held in September 2005 around the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York City, taking advantage of the world leaders gathered there for a meeting to foster a shared responsibility to address global problems.

More than discussions and exchanges of views and ideas, the CGI seeks “Commitments to Action” from its participants, in the form of specific projects that the participants and his or her organization will implement. While the commitments are made to CGI, the latter will in no way take part in the implementation of the project in terms of funding or management. It may provide support in the form of profress reviews and facilitating additional resources and partnerships where possible.

A wide range of commitments have been made in the last three years – over 1,200 projects that affect 200 million people in over 150 countries, resulting in, among other things, a reduction of an equivalent of 40 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions; funding over 270 microfinance institutions; providing more than four million people in developing nations with access to clean-energy services; providing over eight million children with access to schooling; and afforded 34 million people with access to treatment for neglected tropical diseases.

Through the two days of the forum, various commitments were made by individuals, foundations, corporations, and non-government organizations. From the Philippines, Lopez Group patriarch Oscar Lopez committed $8 million to a reforestation program over 10 years, to be carried out by the group’s Energy Development Corp. (EDC), the second largest producer of geothermal energy in the world. The project will cover 1,000 hectares a year for the next decade.

Another commitment personally handed to former President Clinton is a $210,000 grant to the Knowledge Channel (KC) for intensive teacher training to supplement the educational television component provided by the KC, which has seen significant improvement in student performance, evidenced by higher scores in division and national assessment examinations givern by the Department of Education.

Commitments made during this year’s CGI are expected to impact about 160 million people worldwide.

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An ocean and a continent away as his wife was officially named Secretary of State of the US, former US President Bill Clinton opened the first – and last – Clinton Global Initiative outside the United States, at the Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong. Against too a backdrop of the US officially in recession, the global economic meltdown, a just-concluded terror attack in India, the world’s climate and natural world under threat and in peril, world leaders – including President Arroyo among 11 former and current heads of state – and leaders in business and industry, education and environment gathered to put concrete action to ideas on global initiatives on education, health, and energy/climate change.

President Clinton opened the two-day forum by again stressing that the CGI seeks to turn “good ideas into action” – the tone set frm the first CGI held in September 2005 around the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York City. This gathering of the most powerful, wealthiest, most innovative and brilliant people in the world seeks concrete commitments from participants for specific projects or action plans that target any of a number of problems facing the world community today – poverty, lack of education, climate change, religious and ethnic conflicts… The commitments can be of money, talent, manpoewer, ideas, access to resources, or a combination of these. So far, over 1,200 commitments worth about $46 billion have been made, benefiting 200 million people in over 150 countries.

“Our work has never been more important,” Clinton stressed, noting the “persistent inequalities” between the world’s rich and poor – people as well as nations – between rural and urban populations.

Holding the first CGI outside the US in Asia in of particular significance, he noted, because as Asia is home to the world’s leading boom economies, the region is also home to a major portion (641 million) of the world’s p[oor.

Unfortunately, this is the first and last CGI to be held outside the US. With his wife Hillary taking on the Secretary of State position in the Obama government come January, the former president’s participation in such initiatives will be subject to intense scrutiny and limitations to avoid any possible conflict of interest. The CGI will be established and run as an entity separate from the William J. Clinton Foundation. Likewise, funding for both the foundation and CGI will be subject to strict rules.

But the initiatives of the both entities will continue with the commitments made by thousands of people all over the world.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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