Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wednesday - 2008 Clinton Global Initiative Meeting

Wednesday’s opening plenary session, held in the Metropolitan Ballroom at the Sheraton Towers in Manhattan, included the voices of Lance Armstrong (Founder and Chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation), former President Bill Clinton, Queen Rania of Jordan, Bono (who is representing the ONE anti-poverty organization and has been blogging his experiences at, former US Vice President Al Gore (now Chairman of General Investment Management), and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia.

President Clinton impressed upon everyone, regardless of what part they played in the meeting, that they are important to the success of the CGI, each in their own way. He said, "Everyone who has come to CGI's annual Meeting or is following it online has the power to make a difference. The commitments you will make this year - both at the meeting and on our web-portal come at a time of great uncertainty for the world. This makes our collective ability to touch the lives of others more important than ever. Working together, we can help make a safer and more sustainable future."

Former President George H.W. Bush made a surprise trip to the stage to join with Clinton to announce the creation of the Bush Clinton Coastal Recovery Fund. [see ABC News story]

President Clinton said that the current financial crisis is no excuse to ignore poverty. In his words, "This crisis is not an excuse to walk away from the world's challenges, but a compelling reason to intensify our efforts to meet them, around the corner and around the world."

Bono [of U2 and ONE] who, along with fellow rok singer and activist Bob Geldof have thrown their support behind a European Commission plan to give nearly 1.5 billion US dollars to African farmers, spoke passionately on Wedneday's plenary session panel about his unrealized expectations for his work with and hope for people who live in Africa.

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children UK, who spent the day here at the Sheraton yesterday, wrote about the potential good that the Clinton Global Initiative has as it is bringing together "non-traditional partners - governments, aid organisations, charities and business." ­She added,
At the opening of the session, U2 singer Bono immediately raised the mood by asking: "If we can spend $700 billion to save Wall Street, why can't we find $25 billion to save the lives of the 25,000 children who die each day?" [Telegraph UK]
Bono spoke of what he called "the extremes," each damaging to humankind, the three extremes being extreme poverty, extreme climate change, and extreme ideologies.

Al Gore gave a fiery talk on climate change, speaking of a need for a new "electronet" as the current grid is in dire need of update. Gore went as far as giving the green light to civil disobedience on behalf of progress on issues surrounding climate change.