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Dr. Laurie Marker Headshot

Committing to the Future: For Cheetahs and Everyone Else, Too

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Bob Suir, Dreamstime.com
Bob Suir, Dreamstime.com

I just finished four exciting, inspiring days as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). President Bill Clinton established CGI to convene global leaders each September to find innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges.

I shared this experience with featured speakers President Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Kingdom of Jordan, Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State, Deepak Chopra, Founder of The Chopra Center for Wellbeing, Barbra Streisand, The Streisand Foundation, Bill Drayton, Founder of Ashoka Changemakers, and over a thousand CGI members. Since 2005, CGI has "brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media." I am so honored to be a 2012 Clinton Global Initiative Member.

At the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in September, CGI members make commitments to better the future and seek partners to accomplish their goals. This week, I committed to the expansion of my award-winning Bushblok project that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. Bushblok is a high-energy low-emission fuel log that is created from selectively harvested thornbush. See how the Bushblok project works here.

I have committed to increasing Cheetah Conservation Fund's efforts to tackle bush encroachment in Namibia, Africa, our international headquarters. In addition, CCF will develop a biomass industry in Namibia that will protect the bush, create jobs, and provide clean, renewable energy.

When I moved to Namibia in 1990 to ensure the future of the cheetah as a species, I realized that saving the cheetah really could help save the world. If the environment, the people and the systems that surround the cheetah aren't working properly and aren't sustainable over time, then the cheetah will not survive , and our planet's ecosystems will suffer as well. Assuring that cheetah range countries like Namibia have reliable, sustainable energy sources that increase the availability of productive land and provide jobs is important, not just for people, but for the cheetah as well.

The purpose of the Clinton Global Initiative is to help commitment makers like myself connect with potential partners and resources to make these big ideas into reality. We are grateful to the Mulago Foundation for jump-starting our Bushblok commitment with a generous grant. CCF continues to seek funding, expertise, and other resources that will help us develop and implement better strategies for bush harvest and processing, and expansion of a biomass-focused clean energy industry in Africa.

Our goal is to create large landscapes that are healthy places for people, livestock and predators and prey. My CGI commitment will do this in Namibia. Our Bushblok program is replicable, and with enough support we can expand to other arid, bush encroached African countries, helping more people and saving more cheetah habitat.

Please consider joining us in our CGI commitment -- your help, as an individual, corporation or NGO, will help Cheetah Conservation Fund change the world for the better.

Dr. Laurie Marker can be reached at dr.lauriemarker@cheetah.org.