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Clinton Global Initiative Meeting Kicks Off, U.S. Will Commit To Clean Cookstove Project

“World leaders, CEOs, non-governmental organizations and philanthropists” are gathering this week at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting, “[t]imed to coincide with the beginning of the United Nations General Assembly,” WNYC News reports (Herman, 9/20). According to the Toronto Star, “the mood was more upbeat” at CGI, and since former President Bill Clinton “launched the project five years ago, some $57 billion in pledges have been made to improve the lives of 220 million people in more than 70 countries.”

The article looks at CGI’s focus on commitment follow-up. It mentions the findings of a recent study, which found that “the high-level meeting was the most popular summit for chief executives last year, and the price for a seat at the table is $20,000. Those who don’t keep their pledges will be barred from future meetings,” the newspaper writes (Ward, 9/20).

“The ‘Commitment to Action’ is what distinguishes this from several other gatherings like this around the world,” said CGI’s Communications Director Craig Minassian, WNYC News writes. According to the news service: “The more than 1,000 participants choose a ‘Commitment to Action’ in one of four categories: Education, Economic Empowerment, Environment and Energy and Global Health. This year, the conference is focusing those areas … on topics such as empowering women and enhancing access to new technologies” (9/20).

At this year’s meeting, Clinton also plans to “hold a special session on the recovery of [Haiti] with Haitian President Rene Preval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive,” Reuters reports. Highlighting the situation in Haiti “might help shake loose some of the donor commitments from the governments,” Clinton, who is the U.N. special envoy for Haiti, said. “There is a lot of money that has been promised to Haiti, but not much has been given. Almost all that has been given has been for the emergency phase. Now we’re into rebuilding … but we need the donors to come up with the money,” he added.

Clinton also said he hoped the CGI meeting would result in aid for Pakistan to help the country recover from the severe floods. “They didn’t get the response that Haiti got partly because of donor fatigue and partly because there’s apprehension in our part of the world about whether the money could be effectively spent,” he said (Nichols, 9/20).

Sec. Of State Clinton To Announce U.S. Contribution To New Clean Cookstove Alliance

At the CGI meeting on Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will announce a U.S. commitment of about $50 million over five years for a project aimed at reducing smoke inhalation morbidity and mortality by providing clean-cooking stoves in developing countries, Reuters reports (Mason, 9/21). 

The project’s goal is to distribute “100 million clean-burning stoves to villages in Africa, Asia and South America by 2020,” the New York Times reports (Broder, 9/20). Several partners, including the U.N. Foundation and the Shell Foundation, are involved in the new project, called the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which seeks to raise as much as $100 million over five years for new stoves, Bloomberg writes. 

Alliance “backers propose establishing a revolving loan fund to finance projects on advanced stoves and fuels, while campaigning to raise awareness about the dangers of cooking smoke. The project will work with manufacturers to develop new stove technologies, and with governments to cut duties and tariffs to ease the introduction of safer stoves, [a document describing the plan] says,” the news service reports (Krause-Jackson/Green, 9/20). 

Other partners are expected to contribute at least $10 million to the alliance, the New York Times notes. U.N. data show that indoor-stove smoke leads to 1.9 million deaths annually, mostly women and children who can die from lung and heat diseases and low birth weight. According to the WHO, “indoor air pollution caused by such cooking methods is the fourth greatest health risk factor in developing countries, after unclean water and sanitation, unsafe sex and undernourishment. The gathering of fuel is mainly done by women and children, millions of whom are exposed daily to dangers in conflict-torn regions. The need to forage for fuel also keeps millions of children out of school,” the newspaper writes (9/20).

Poor health effects from unclean stoves is most pronounced in India, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, said Reid Detchon, vice president for energy and climate at the U.N. Foundation, Reuters reports. “You’re not going to solve this problem with aid alone,” he said. “You’re going to have to create a thriving cookstove industry that can supply both stoves and fuels that people want and need,” Detchon added (9/20).

In an interview, Clinton said pollution created by basic cookstoves is a “‘cross-cutting issue’ that affects health, the environment and women’s status in much of the world.” She added, “That’s what makes it such a good subject for a coordinated approach of governments, aid organizations and the private sector.”

The alliance’s other founding partners include, “the Morgan Stanley Foundation, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Environment Program, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the governments of Germany, Norway and the Netherlands,” according to the New York Times. “Aside from the State Department and the EPA, participating United States agencies include the Departments of Energy and Health and Human Services,” the newspaper reports (9/20). 

Speakers Discuss Technology’s Ability To Promote Humanitarian Goals At Social Good Summit

Technology’s potential to help alleviate social problems has not yet been realized, Howard Buffett, policy advisor for the White House Domestic Policy Council, said on Monday at the Mashable and 92Y Social Good Summit in New York, RTTNews reports.

“Our faith in technology has led us to believe that we become empowered to remedy social injustice by simply carrying a technological device – that a mobile phone can place the capacity to create massive change in our pockets,” Buffett said. He discussed the need for connections, enabled through technology, to endure. “After a terrible event occurs, public interest surges, but quickly shifts to the next news cycle,” he said. “The work of caring, feeding the poor, healing the sick and fighting injustice cannot end when our interest has waned,” Buffett added (9/20).

CNN Founder Ted Turner also spoke at the summit and focused on the relationship between population and global poverty, RTTNews writes in a separate article. “We can’t continue to add a billion people every decade,” according to Turner. He “said stabilizing the world’s population must be done voluntarily, with the mass media playing an important role in the process” (9/20). Turner also discussed poverty and his philanthropy on NPR’s Talk of the Nation (Conan, 4/20).

Also on Monday, “Susan Smith Ellis, CEO of (RED), took to the stage to announce the organization’s next goal: To use social media to help ensure that no children is born with HIV/AIDS by 2015,” Mashable reports. Ellis said the organization relies on social media to promote its projects, noting that that without a large marketing budget, it “requires a high level of engagement” to raise awareness. “Social media will be the engine of our success,” she said (Ehrlich, 9/20).  

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