Clinton Global Initiative: A Powerful, Magical Venue for Global Action

10/03/2007 11:11 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The three-day convening was a spectacle of promise for the future, despite the gravity of the topics: Education; Global Health; Poverty Alleviation; and Energy and Climate Control.

It was awe inspiring to see so many world leaders in one place, at one time outside the walls of the United Nations. They all came together to build bridges, start dialogues, forge partnership, and make commitments. They stood tall and proud together.

Reach for the sky, believe in change and see the promise of the future. Become a citizen of the world; come on this journey with the pied piper of statesmen, former President William Jefferson Clinton. He was the essence of global leadership -- a man who makes things happen.

This was not the so-called "land grab" for the private sector, as many skeptics have accused. Rather, it was a venue for new beginnings with definitive actions.

Voices were heard, and billions were committed through partnerships between the titans of industry, philanthropists, government, non-profits and celebrities.

Global citizens filled the halls, and all danced with Bill Clinton's saxophone moving "intention to action."

It will take a village given the enormity of the problems of our world. And the "village" came to New York City.

And the walls of the New York Sheraton rocked. The music played on and in the first
24 hours yielded over 40 commitments worth billions of dollars. And they kept coming in hour by hour...

In the last two years over 400 leaders from more than 50 countries have been speakers at the annual meeting and members have made more than 600 global commitments towards initiatives. These commitments have involved more than 1,000 organizations working in 100 countries and have had the following impact around the globe:

• More than 3.2 million people have been reached with clean energy services in the developing world.

• 1.2 million people throughout Sudan, Chad, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have received emergency and primary care - including mental health.

• Over 8.8 million patients around the world are receiving emergency and primary care.

• 857,300 children under 5 in 25 countries have been provided with life-saving services over the last year.

• Close to 3 million micro-entrepreneurs received access to funding thanks to commitments to 270 microfinance institutions.

THIS was a happening; perhaps more far reaching than even DAVOS. The dollars committed and partnerships announced between the parties were staggering. And these are just a sampling:

• Hewlett Packard teams up with Microsoft and UNICEF and IRC donating $30M over three years to develop distance learning programs for the displaced children of Iraq, and other areas of the Middle East.

• The newly announced Education partnership for Children of Conflict commits to placing 350,000 out of school children in school, and improving the learning environment, safety, materials and teacher quality for another 650,000 students - including 200,000 refugees of Iraq and 300,000 children affected by the crisis of Darfur.

• Florida Power and Light pledges over $2B to develop solar energy as the Governor of Florida stands beside him. This commitment encompassed investment dollars for the development of new technologies to increase capacity for solar energy.

• A consortium of eight of the largest electrical companies in the US - Con Edison, Duke Energy, Edison International, Great Plains Energy, Pepco Holdings, PNM Resources, Sierra Pacific Resources, and Xcel Energy - make a 10 year commitment to lead in energy efficiency, and invest almost $1B a year over the next 3 years with the goal of reducing 30M tons of green house gas emissions per year.

• BRAC announces $271 M committed to educating girls in Africa and Asia together in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the NoVo Foundation and the Nike Foundation.

• Brad Pitt and Steve Bing plan for the rebuilding of the lower ninth ward of New Orleans with 150 affordable and sustainable homes - as part of the first step of the "Make it Right" project.

• The Dow Chemical Company will provide $30 M of loan guarantees to support the financing of up to 2,000 community water systems, serving 11 million people in India through Water health International (WHI).

• The SCOJO Foundation is committed $1.6M to making affordable reading glasses available in developing countries stimulating the micro economies of these areas, while providing sight to over 300,000 people who have no glasses.

• The Poverty Alleviation track was impassioned in the pursuit of safety for people, economics for women, and a better world. People who have jobs have hope. Girls that are better educated grow into women that can provide better for their families, and avoid succumbing to AIDS.

Tears came often at this meeting, particularly when Angelina Jolie spoke with the Minister of Education from Afghanistan. The killing of girls attempting education was deeply felt throughout the room. The atrocities that Jolie witnessed were beyond words in the countries in crisis. The President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste even spoke of a world without the death penalty; one in which the sanctity of life was cherished.

The message resounded that people with jobs could have dignity and food; people with education could strive to be more and give more; gender killing must end; and climate change is the overwhelming crisis of this time.

Former Vice President, Al Gore's call was for a Global Marshall Plan came in the spirit of the necessity of government working together with the private sector to solve the impeding climate crisis.

This is the moment - and it was unprecedented.

And the singing began again and again:

People with jobs have dignity, and can feed their families.

People with education strive to be more, and give more.

Gender killing must end.

Girls must have access to education.

Medicine and treatment must be made available.

Climate change is the crisis of this time.

Bill Clinton brought the magic, the private sector the dollars, and the global citizens took action.

Everyone swayed to the music, whether it was the leaders of Wal-Mart, or Hewlett Packard, or Google, or Microsoft, or Florida Power and Light, or Duke Energy, or Donna Karan, or superstars Angelina and Brad, or whimsical Bishop Desmond Tutu, among throngs of others. .

It didn't matter everyone wanted to dance, and they boogied up and down the halls! The press followed the celebrities with lights and cameras. Rock stars, movie stars, relief organizations, governments let it rip!

Bill Clinton's saxophone sang the songs of change and hope. And the music played on.

Magic was in the air, hope in our hearts, and dreams of a better tomorrow.

We all left proud, hopeful, and committed to a world that could be healed.