09/23/2010 03:24 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

CGI Commitment Brings World One Step Closer to Safer Products for Future Generations

This year's Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting (CGI) has been all about commitments that will make a positive difference around the world. Yesterday, during the Market-Based Solutions for Protecting the Environment session at CGI, the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (formerly the Green Products Innovation Institute) joined industry and NGOs on stage to contribute its own global commitment to train at least 100 assessors and certify 1,000 products by 2015. This is part of the Institute's effort to jumpstart a market for new product development that will protect human health and the environment while growing the economy.

The Institute is developing comprehensive metrics and standards for every day products that are safe and healthy for our environment and our children based on the Cradle to Cradle certification protocols. When training begins early next year, assessors will learn how to help companies develop these safer products, which can then go through the process of receiving the Cradle to Cradle certification mark.

"The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute is proud to make such a vital pledge to bring healthy products to citizens across the globe," said Bridgett Luther, president of the Institute, about its commitment. "With the support of governments, industry, academia and non-governmental organizations, we can turn the Cradle to Cradle certification into a worldwide standard in developing safe and sustainable consumer products."

Numerous influential industry and NGO stakeholders participated in yesterday's session and were there for the announcement, including Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres; Matt Kistler, senior vice president of sustainability for Wal-Mart, Jeffrey Swartz, president and CEO of The Timberland Company; and M. Sanjayan, lead scientist for The Nature Conservancy.

While not present on stage, several of the nation's leading manufacturers joined the Institute in its commitment, including Shaw Industries and Steelcase.

Shaw Industries, Inc., the world's largest carpet manufacturer announced its commitment to moving toward increasing the number of 'wholly' Cradle to Cradle certified products by 2015 so more of its product line will be safer for human and environmental health.

"Over 50 percent of our commercial products are now Cradle to Cradle certified, but we are not stopping there," said Vance Bell, CEO of Shaw. "We plan to increase that percentage over the next several years as we work closely with the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute."

Steelcase, the world's largest office furniture manufacturer, announced that its first seating product for the education sector, "node," will also be certified under the Cradle to Cradle protocol.

These types of industry commitments will be crucial to the Institute's success in bringing safer products to market.

It will also require collaboration with countries like China who manufacture products for citizens all over the world. On that front, the Institute just last week signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Shanghai Yangpu District Government, which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger witnessed during his trade mission to Asia. The MOU solidified Shanghai's commitment to working with the Institute to promote an innovative model for eliminating toxic chemicals and other negative environmental impacts.

The Clinton Global Initiative is a catalyst for change and challenges industry leaders and NGOs to implement solutions that will have a lasting effect on the world's environmental and human health. Through commitments from nonprofits like The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, this vision can become reality.