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CGI Summit Looks At Businesses’ Involvement In Philanthropy

A growing number of companies are putting more emphasis on philanthropic investments, former President Bill Clinton and business leaders said on Wednesday during the second day of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting in New York, Reuters reports.

So far, businesses were involved with 54 percent of the pledges made at the meeting, Clinton said. When the program started in 2005, businesses played a role in 35 percent of the commitments, according to Reuters. “Corporations are more interested in this,” Clinton said during a discussion about the economy. Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical Company, “said that corporate social responsibility was now considered to be a part of the ‘sustainable growth’ strategies of about 20 percent of the world’s top companies and that number was growing,” the news service writes. “A modern day corporation has to have a modern day lens,” he said. “We have had a tectonic shift in the way business is conducted and should be conducted.”

Standard Chartered Chief Executive Peter Sands and Barclays PLC President Robert Diamond also discussed businesses’ involvement in philanthropy at the meeting (Nichols, 9/22).

On Tuesday at the CGI meeting, the Coca-Cola Co. “committed to boosting economic opportunities for some 5 million women entrepreneurs in its business system by 2020,” according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle (9/21). “In Africa, Coca-Cola wants to grow its ‘micro distribution centers,’ an independent network of entrepreneurs who distribute Coke’s beverage products to retailers, often by bicycle or pushcart,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes (McWilliams, 6/22).

“Enhancing economic opportunities for women in the Coca-Cola value chain will result in increased incomes, enhanced skills in business, increased stature within the community, and improved potential for communities,” Muhtar Kent, the company’s CEO and chairman, said during a CGI panel discussion, moderated by CBS Evening News Anchor and Managing Editor Katie Couric, according to a Coca-Cola press release (9/21). “Other panelists included Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia,” RTTNews reports. The panel focused on empowering women in the developing world (9/22).

Special Session Focuses On Cancer In Developing Nations; Laura Bush, Daughters Speak About Health, Education

On Wednesday, a special CGI session focused on cancer in the developing world, RTTNews reports (9/22). Fast Company writes that “cancer is the deadliest disease on the planet, and the majority of new cases occur in developing countries, and yet they receive only a fraction of available resources.”

Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners in Health (PIH) and chair of Harvard Medical School’s global health and social medicine department, said, “We need a global fund for cancer. … For all layers – prevention, diagnosis and care.” The publication describes the relationship between CGI and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, now known as Livestrong, which helped organize the panel (Salter, 9/22).

Politics Daily, which also covered the discussion, writes that “cancer is largely considered the problem of rich nations – countries where patients can afford the treatment and care of trained professionals. Less developed nations are traditionally understood to be plagued by communicable diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS – and global resources have been allocated accordingly.”

In addition to Farmer, the cyclist Lance Armstrong participated in the panel along with CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta, Harvard Global Equity Initiative Director Felicia Knaul, Director General of the King Hussein Cancer Foundation Princess Dina Mired, and Director of the Public Sector Partnership for PIH Charles Patrick Almazor, The discussion addressed the challenges associated with treating cancer in developing countries, including the prevalence of taboos. “The real cancer,” said Knaul, a cancer survivor, “is the cancer of stigma and discrimination” (Wagner, 9/22).

Also on Wednesday, “[f]ormer First Lady Laura Bush spoke along with her daughters at a forum” at CGI, RTTNews writes. “Drawing on her experiences as a teacher in Baltimore’s impoverished inner city, Jenna Bush said educational opportunities can change lives in the developing world and here in the United States. Barbara Bush encouraged young people to explore health care as a career option, noting that disease and poverty are a major barrier to harnessing human potential,” the news service reports (9/22).

“The lack of access to good health care is a barrier to growth and opportunity in too many countries around the world,” Barbara Bush, who helped found the Global Health Corps (GHC) to work towards health equity, said, according to a GHC press release (9/22).

In related news, ABC News reports on some of the CGI meeting highlights so far, noting the emphasis on the empowerment of women and girls. According to the article, the organizers of an advertising campaign, which aims to engage men in India “in the fight against victimization of women,” announced at the CGI summit that it would expand to other countries.

Of the meeting, ABC News writes: “The gathering, conducted under extremely tight security, this year drew 1,300 participants from 90 countries, President Clinton noted in his opening remarks. … CGI, which in its [sixth year] has come to be viewed as the World Series of networking” (Allen, 9/22). WNYC News also reported: “Empowering women and girls is among major threads at this week’s Clinton Global Initiative, the yearly conference designed to bring together people with ideas and people with money and power,” the news service writes (McCune, 9/22).

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