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Posts Tagged ‘President Clinton’

The Republic of Kosovo declared its independence in February 2008 and currently 64 countries have recognized her as a sovereign state. After almost two years of self-rule, the Council is honored to host Kosovo’s first President, Dr. Fatmir Sejdiu, on Tuesday, January 12th to discuss the future for this new nation.

For a look back at the days before and after Kosovo declared independence, visit New York Times journalist Andrew Testa’s slide show.

With its international allies and partners committed to ensuring the stability of Kosovo, watch BBC News’ coverage of President Clinton’s recent trip to Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo, for the inauguration of a statue honoring our 42nd President.

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Earlier this week, the UN Economic and Social Council held a special event on the role of philanthropy in combating global public health challenges.  The meeting convened over 400 executives and philanthropy leaders, representatives of UN Member States and other partners at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for all partners, whether UN actors, philanthropists, governments or other, “to come together to deliver as one in the field of global health.”

The event focused on ways to strengthen partnerships toward reaching the health-related MDGs – especially health outcomes for women and girls and neglected tropical diseases.

Watch President Bill Clinton’s closing keynote address on the need for concerted action between governments, civil society, and the private sector for interventions in public health.

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Several Council staff are back in the office today after a long weeked in Austin Texas where they took part in the Clinton Global Initiative University conference.  While mainly involved in the Poverty Alleviation track, Council staff also got to participate in the plenary sessions with President Clinton, and in several of the breakouts in the four other tracks: education, global health, climate change, and peace and human rights.  They are still brimming with the excitement and energy carried over from the conference, and are looking forward to seeing the new student commitments that will come out of this conference.  We’ll have more personal updates later, but for now – check out some of the session simulcasts here on the CGI U website.

And check back to our September 08 archives for posts from the CGI Annual Meeting in New York.

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An article today on Bloomberg.com explores one of the biggest forces in today’s global philanthropy: hedge fund leaders.  The authors emphasize the weight these hedge fund philanthropists place on results: “If a hedge fund manager is going to give money, we want them to give based on the effectiveness of the charity,” says Martin Brookes, chief executive officer of NPC and a former international economist at Goldman. “There is much more focus on what the money achieves.”

The article details some pretty inspiring results from the work of leaders in the field, including Chris Cooper-Hohn of The Children’s Investment Fund LLP or TCI, and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, or CIFF, run by his Harvard-educated wife, Jamie Cooper-Hohn.  One example highlighted is that of a 3.7 million pound grant in 2005 from CIFF to the Clinton Foundation which enabled the Clinton Foundation – together with a coalition of government and nonprofit agencies – to reduce the price of a year’s dosage of antiretroviral drugs to $180 from $1,500.

These hedge fund leaders vow that they will continue their philanthropy in these difficult times, even though their investments may suffer.  Let’s hope they mean it.

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Just this morning, former President Clinton released for the first time his complete donor list.  Over 200,000 donor names appear, all having given to his foundation since 1997.  The publication of the list is one piece of a nine-part agreement with President-Elect Obama to dispel any concerns of a conflict of interest if Senator Hillary Clinton is confirmed as Secretary of State. The complete list is posted on the Clinton Foundation site, which seems to have crashed this morning from all of the traffic.

An article in today’s NY Times goes into further detail on specific donors and dollar amounts – Saudia Arabia and other foreign governments gave a total of $46 million.  The article shares several intriguing stories about individual donors and their relationship to President Clinton around the time of their donation.  It also discusses how the other 8 parts of Obama’s agreement will curtail Clinton’s activities.

Jane Wales, our President & CEO, continues to serve as Working Group Chair of the Poverty Alleviation Track for the Clinton Global Initiative. Watch videos from this year’s conference here.

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As President-Elect Obama prepares for taking office on January 20th, speculation abounds on the names surfacing as potentials for major cabinet positions. One name that has been the subject of much discussion in the past few days is that of Senator Hillary Clinton. President-Elect Obama met with her in Chicago to discuss the possibility of naming her as the next Secretary of State. In the vetting process, however, it is her husband, former President Bill Clinton, that is under the most media scrutiny.

In an article from today’s issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, World Affairs Council President & CEO Jane Wales is quoted on what this process will mean for President Clinton’s philanthropic work, and how Senator Hillary Clinton’s appointment might change and restrict the work of the Clinton Foundation, and President Clinton’s work more generally.

Here, Jane Wales interviews President Clinton at the Aspen Ideas Fest about the power of philanthropy to affect change and other global issues.

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Across all panels in the past two days, and especially this morning, we have seen that technological innovation now arms us with unprecedented opportunities for alleviating poverty. In our final panel for the poverty alleviation track, we heard about the nexus between information and poverty from moderator Sonal Shah, Head of Global Development Initiative at Google.org, Holly Ladd, President & Director of AED-SATELLIFE, Brian Richardson, Founder & Managing Director of WIZZIT Bank in South Africa, and Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President & CEO of Women’s World Banking. Each panelist highlighted the great opportunity presented by mobile technology in expanding and accelerating access to financial services, and explored other ways to leverage information technology to strengthen the service delivery of existing health and microfinance initiatives. Sonal asked each to discuss how technology can best collect and share information about poor communities and individuals, such as demographics, health statistics, credit history, etc.

Holly emphasized that our challenge is to alleviate the burden of disease, so that we can move to alleviate the burden of poverty; creating wealth by creating health. She argued for the use of new technology to capture data more effectively – and more importantly, to make every effort to make this information widely available. Brian seeks to provide affordability, accessibility, and availability in financial services for the poor, and believes that mobile technology is the best way to achieve this. Banking via mobile phones enables up-and-coming entrepreneurs to save valuable amounts of time and productivity. While there remains a lot to be done on regulation and building trust in the security of mobile banking, he is working to prove scalability and commercial viability to take his model global. Mary Ellen pointed out that despite the attention the microfinance movement has received, only 133 million people in the world have access to its services. Banks need information on customers, but we must work out the sensitivities of who owns the information. Sorting this will be fundamental to enabling microfinance to have the impact that it can and should.

At the close of working group sessions, we all moved to the ballroom for the final plenary with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Clinton. We learned of the range and depth of commitments made this year in our 3 days together, and heard from past commitment makers who have made extraordinary progress. Prime Minister Brown spoke of the financial crisis, and argued that there is no future for isolationism, just as there is no future for protectionism. The essential thing to do is to begin to restore confidence in markets, and to do so globally – for this global problem requires a global solution. President Clinton reflected that instead of pouring money into the narrow housing market, we should have invested in our poor neighborhoods, in a clean, independent energy future – in solar power or wind power or bio-diesel or electric cars – into making an energy partnership with Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and our other neighbors in the Caribbean. It would have been a different world out there, and a lot fewer people would have taken improvident risk. He urged us not to forget that as it turns out, doing the right thing is the best economics, and that over the long run, it’s the best politics too.

Now that CGI has concluded for another year and production staff is busy pulling down the lights and microphones, we must pause, reflect, and take with us what we’ve learned. The poor are worthy of our efforts and it is time for us to make good on our promises. It requires a real commitment and true audacity from each of us. I have been moved by each of the members of CGI – experts, activists, philanthropists – and I look forward to advancing their work and the work of others in the year ahead.

Jane Wales
President & CEO, World Affairs Council of Northern California
Working Group Chair, Poverty Alleviation, Clinton Global Initiative

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“This country that we sit in is a great country. And it’s a great country because it’s not just a country, it’s an idea. And that idea was supposed to be contagious – it’s bound up in the idea of the inalienable rights of men and women and children, equal in the eyes of God.” This morning, at the opening of the 4th Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, Bono called each of us to action. He asked us to place the current financial meltdown in a larger context – to remember the privilege from which we come, and of our responsibility to help those who have been living with this kind of insecurity for their entire lives. Joining him on stage, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Vice President Al Gore, and fellow panelists introduced the four focus areas of CGI – Poverty Alleviation, Climate Change, Education, and Global Health. Queen Rania of Jordan highlighted in particular the need for a paradigm shift in how we view education – that we must see it not just as the responsibility of government, but of everyone. This shift is needed across all issues – for we each must have a stake in improving these pillars of society.

As Working Group Chair for the poverty track, I structured each of our panels to address a core dimension of poverty. We began today with a panel discussion on strengthening financial services for the poor. While we in the rich world consider ways to rescue and repair our financial services industry, 2.3 billion people in the world have been living without access to any financial services. Even in the face of frightening developments in our own markets, we must work to reach these people. Confidence makes or breaks financial systems – and right now, we lack it. Robert Rubin, former Secretary of the Treasury in both Clinton Administrations, and now Director and Chairman of Citi’s Executive Committee, spoke on the panel about the current financial melt-down and its implications for the poor. He identified our situation as a “crisis of confidence,” and emphasized that we must address it as such. We need responsive action to restore confidence, and must prepare for the hugely consequential challenges this crisis poses, especially in helping the poor move in to the mainstream.

Dr. Julio Frenk, a Senior Fellow for the Global Health Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Mexico’s former Minister of Health, spoke powerfully on the links between health and poverty. He believes health insurance is crucial in mitigating the risks that drive people in to poverty, and that micro finance institutions should work in partnership with government to provide health services. He noted that the high cost of health and medical care has driven more than half a billion people in to poverty around the world. As President Clinton said almost fifteen years ago, millions of people in the world are only one serious illness away from losing their savings. We must provide services to help the poor protect their assets in the face of these risks. Fazle Abed, Founder and Chairman of BRAC, highlighted the regulatory constraints that currently limit NGOs from accepting savings deposits, thereby forcing microfinance institutions to borrow money to provide loans, which is not a sustainable model. CEO and Managing Director of Equity Bank in Kenya, James Mwangi argued that we should adopt a philosophy of “taking banking services to the people,” which Equity Bank does through mobile vans powered by solar panels and equipped with simple computer technology that travel to poor villages. The poor need savings products that are structured with no restrictions regarding frequency or amount – Mwangi believes this simplicity is key to usability.

Our audience participants concluded that we must decrease fraud, improve transparency, encourage cross-sector collaboration, and impose new regulations to ensure stability and flexibility in financial services – advice we can all appreciate, and should bear in mind as we react to the crisis in our own financial system.

Jane Wales
President & CEO, World Affairs Council of Northern California
Working Group Chair, Poverty Alleviation, Clinton Global Initiative

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