Over $6B Pledged As CGI Annual Meeting Wraps Up

Donors made 291 commitments worth more than $6 billion at this year’s Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting, which wrapped up on Thursday in New York, Reuters reports. “The value of [CGI] pledges for economic empowerment, education, environment, energy and health was $3 billion less than 2009, but the organization said that in previous years one or two big commitments represented a disproportionate share of the whole,” the news service writes. “Since 2005, nearly 2,000 commitments have been made valued at $63 billion,” according to Reuters (Nichols, 9/23).

First Lady Michelle Obama spoke during the closing session on Thursday, where she “urged international development organizations to engage military veterans and spouses in their work,” the Associated Press writes. “This issue may seem too uniquely American in scope for such a global audience here at CGI,” Obama said. “But right now, the human potential of America’s veterans and military families is both vast and woefully underutilized.”

“Obama said military duty exposes veterans to the kind of development projects the CGI promotes and said they should be encouraged to contribute their expertise,” according to the AP. “Are you working to get clean water into a village? Are you trying to move people to safety in the wake of a natural disaster? That’s all in a day’s work for these folks,” Obama said. “That passion for serving, that commitment to helping others – that doesn’t just disappear when they return to civilian life” (Fouhy, 9/23).

Obama “said veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are trained in state-of-the-art medical, information and communications technology, ran the complex military operation that moves equipment and supplies to thousands of locations around the world, and had borne the responsibility of undertaking life-or-death missions,” CNN reports (9/23). President Barack Obama, in New York for the U.N. General Assembly and Millennium Development Goal Summit, introduced his wife at CGI, the AP reports (Lee, 9/23).

“Earlier on Thursday, Cisco Systems Chief Executive John Chambers, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and other business leaders told the initiative that Internet technology drives economic growth and enables poor countries to develop at a faster pace than rich nations did,” Reuters notes (9/23).

According to Chambers, Internet communication has enabled such effective collaboration on global development that it is one of the most significant markers of progress since the Industrial Revolution, a second Reuters article reports. “It suddenly allows us to change people’s lives at tremendous speed,” Chambers said during panel discussion. “If you watch the speed of change that is now occurring its almost what used to occur in 10 years can occur in one,” he added.

“Ratan Tata, chairman of India’s oldest and best-known conglomerate Tata Sons, told the panel: ‘Technology is going to be very much the enabler and the driver of changing the quality of life and changing the level of livelihood of people around the world,'” the news service reports (Nichols, 9/23).

Another panel discussion looked at the “impact of digital information on social causes and government reforms,” RTTNews writes. Maria Otero, U.S. under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs, participated in the panel and discussed how technology has changed the way people deal with governments (9/23).

In related coverage about the CGI meeting, ABC News examines efforts by the businesses Procter & Gamble; Becton, Dickinson and Co.; and LivingGoods to improve health care worldwide (Allen, 9/24).