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CGI Opening Day Focuses On Economic Growth, Natural Disasters, Women’s Rights

The Clinton Global Initiative’s (CGI) three-day annual summit began on Tuesday with a focus on economic growth, natural disaster preparation and the empowerment of women and girls, Reuters reports.

As the world works to recover from the global economic downturn, former President Bill Clinton said governments and the private sector should partner to expand economies and address global problems, according to the news service. “I hope when we come out of this meeting every one of you will have a clearer idea about how you can best use your resources in this climate to promote more economic growth in all the countries represented here,” Clinton said during the opening plenary.

“Clinton also hoped a better way of responding to and minimizing natural and man-made disasters would be developed. ‘There’s every reason to believe that the incidence of economically devastating natural disasters will accelerate around the world with the changing of the climate,’ he said” (Nichols, 9/21).

“Clinton also pressed attendees on the need to educate and empower women and girls in developing countries, saying the global economy would improve with women’s full participation,” the Associated Press reports. “There are still a lot of places in this world where women are part human and part property and where men define their meaning in life,” he said. “The former president’s wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, was also attending the conference and planned to focus on issues connected to women and girls,” the news service notes (Fouhy, 9/21).

Clinton moderated a panel discussion about collaboration between corporations, governments and non-profits, according to the Financial Times’ “beyondbrics” blog. “Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, Bob McDonald, chief executive of Procter & Gamble, Melinda Gates, co-chair of the [Bill & Melinda] Gates Foundation, and Finnish president Tarja Halonen” participated in the discussion (Bond, 9/21). McDonald announced that Procter & Gamble would distribute two billion free PUR water purification packets in developing countries, while Schmidt “pledged $1 million to help Pakistan recover from floods that devastated the country, including a Web-based computer application that helps rescuers find people missing in natural disasters,” Bloomberg reports.

Melinda Gates, said of reducing maternal deaths in the developing world, “‘It all comes down to women. … You have to put the power in their hands’ to help break the cycle of maternal deaths, a key factor keeping women in poverty in the developing world,” the news service reports.

Clinton also announced that aid group AmeriCares plans to build a safe haven for adolescent Haitian girls to protect them from sexual assault, Bloomberg writes (Green/Kassenaar, 9/21).

“Clinton introduced the former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson, to discuss new initiatives targeting waste and waste disposal,” Politics Daily reports (Wagner, 9/21). On the first day of the CGI meeting, Clinton “announced 17 new Commitments to Action, most focused on providing immediate relief and long-term solutions to disaster-affected areas in Haiti, the Gulf Coast, and Pakistan,” according to a CGI press release. It notes that “67 current and former heads of state, more than 600 business leaders, and more than 500 leaders from NGOs and philanthropic organizations” are attending the meeting (9/21).

Also, as expected, Tuesday Secretary of State Clinton announced a U.S. commitment of almost $51 million to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, CNN reports (Labott, 9/21). A press release from the State Department outlines the U.S. pledge (9/21). 

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