Bill Clinton: « The world is on fire », but teamwork can help

NEW YORK (AP) – Former President Bill Clinton is calling on governments, corporations, philanthropies and other leading institutions to come together and help a world that is « on fire » as he reconvenes the Clinton Global Initiative, the meeting of international leaders, for the first time since 2016.

Interest in the two-day meeting was so intense that the Clinton Foundation had to turn away more than 1,000 potential attendees. It convenes an array of luminaries, including Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan, Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai and actor and social media activist. access to water Matt Damon.

Clinton, president of the United States from 1993 to 2001, said he was amazed at the massive response.

“The world is on fire in different ways,” he told The Associated Press in an interview. « But there are a lot of things businesses, non-governmental groups and governments working together can do to help solve a lot of these problems. »

The Clinton Global Initiative, or CGI, has helped more than 435 million people in more than 180 countries since its inception in 2005. Previously, it required participants to create a Commitment to Action, a measurable project that addresses a global issue, although for that year that requirement was waived. These commitments often unite new partners and encourage cooperation between the public and private sectors.

« I think there’s a desire for people to come together and meet with an end in mind, » Clinton said. « Not just talking about it, but knowing that when they leave they will be committed to doing something. »

Clinton Foundation Vice President Chelsea Clinton calls it « a bias for action, » which she says is part of what makes CGI special and a catalyst for global change. She said the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred interest in public health and addressing health disparities because people outside the field can see the impact.

« Health is related to anything and everything anyone can care about, » said Chelsea Clinton. « There are a lot of people who are now mobilized to do something with what they have come to understand and now feel a responsibility to help solve. »

The roundtables planned for the initiative focus on potential solutions. Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will discuss approaches to creating gender equality with New York Governor Kathy Hochul, actor and philanthropist Robin Wright and others. The three Clintons will talk about partnerships focused on common humanity. They will be joined by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, U2 singer Bono and « Hamilton » creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said CGI has always introduced its group to potential new partners, which is even more valuable after two difficult pandemic years that have made difficult access to new donors. « You can’t do much with PowerPoint presentations and zooms, » Sands said.

He is currently in the midst of a fundraising campaign. President Joe Biden will host the Global Fund’s seventh replenishment conference in New York on Wednesday, delayed for two days so Biden can attend Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on Monday.

However, he now plans to attend CGI and said the rally was missed during his hiatus, although the Clinton Foundation itself remained active. The initiative met annually until 2016 during former Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, when questions were raised about potential conflicts of interest arising if donors then had business before her administration.

Bill Clinton said the initiative relies on the unique energy of its participants to tackle a growing number of issues.

« We have the highest number of migrants since World War II, » he said. « And the biggest publicity they get in America is when a governor or two makes a political problem out of it and tries to make problems for other people. Sensible countries work together and try to find the best way to deal with it.

Clinton also hopes CGI can shed light on various solutions that need more support. He cites a study by Generation180, a non-profit organization that promotes the use of clean energy. His research shows that some rural schools have installed solar panels to reduce their carbon emissions and electricity bills. Schools then used the savings to give raises to teachers.

« The energy is there. The jobs are there. The benefits are there. The kids are winning, » Clinton said.

He says philanthropy can help break the political and cultural impasse by showing what can be done. For example, he said that when President Barack Obama offered to hire 100,000 new STEM teachers and Congress turned it down, philanthropy stepped in to make it happen.

« We got together the Carnegie Corporation and the American Federation of Teachers and over 20 other partners and they said, ‘We’re going to raise the money,' » Clinton said. « No one ever thought that was a goal of philanthropy. But it got the job done and demonstrated why Republicans and Democrats should cooperate on such things.


The Associated Press’s coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits is supported by the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content. For all of AP’s philanthropy coverage, visit

Glenn Gamboa, Associated Press


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