Clinton Global Initiative Convenes in NYC to Tackle Global Poverty

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September 19, 2011; Source: Forbes (Associated Press) | StubHub didn’t have any extra tickets for us to attend, so we’re staying home and watching the three-day Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting online this week. We do wonder which members of the nonprofit community will be in New York hobnobbing with America’s most beloved living ex-president-turned-philanthropist. Some highlights:

  • Former Obama Administration green-jobs “czar” Van Jones, dismissed for political reasons before he could even get to work, is emceeing one of four lunchtime plenaries, this one on green technology.
  • Michael Porter is moderating a “values-based leadership” luncheon. Porter is known to NPQ readers for his writings on philanthropy (especially his 1999 co-authored article “Philanthropy’s New Agenda”), as well as his founding or co-founding of the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City and the Center for Effective Philanthropy, More recently, he provided technical advice to deposed Libyan ruler Col. Moammar Qaddafi, which should help frame the “values-based leadership” issues nicely for the panel.
  • Cheryl Dorsey, president of Echoing Green, appears on a panel about impact investing, the latest hot topic in philanthropy.
  • Luis Ubinas of the Ford Foundation and Carlos Slim, one of the wealthiest people in the world and founder of Fundación Carlos Slim, will speak on the challenges of “mega-cities.”
  • Hilary Pennington of the Gates Foundation is leading a session on the value of college in today’s technology-driven economy.
  • Zeenat Rahman, director of USAID’s office of faith-based and community initiatives, is leading a multifaith dialogue.

The CGI Annual Meeting features enough variety so that almost anyone can find a topical foothold. For example, well-known amateur saxophonist Bill Clinton OK’d a session titled “From Conflict to Creativity: Reducing Violence through the Arts,” which perhaps will strengthen the role of the arts in CGI’s global anti-poverty agenda.

The Washington Post contends that the CGI conference will be devoted to job creation. The Post quotes Clinton suggesting that even though President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak on “Sustainable Consumption: Redefining Business As Usual,” he will actually talk about his $447-billion job-creation proposal. Clinton himself suggests that for all of the good ideas at the CGI, poor countries fear that “the global economic crisis is going to stop them from creating sufficient employment to continue to grow.” He argues that “It’s going to be very difficult for us to return to full employment and dramatically robust growth until we find a way to unlock the capital reserves in the $2 trillion in corporate money . . . that is not being invested now and the more than $2 trillion that banks have in cash reserves.”

So check your mail to see if you missed your invitation to the Clinton Global Initiative. It’s happening now in the Big Apple and winds up on Thursday.—Rick Cohen