Bill Clinton Initiative to Seek Global Solutions

Monday, 22 Sep 2008 10:43 PM

By Stewart Stogel

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The fourth annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to tackle worldwide issues gets under way in New York City Tuesday.

The project, which former President Bill Clinton founded, is designed to bring world political, economic and entertainment leaders together to try to solve issues.

Unlike other symposiums, the initiative, created to occur during the annual U.N. General Assembly, is targeted "not only to bring together world leaders, CEO’s and entertainment notables to discuss world problems, but get specific commitments on how to handle them," the former president says.

Taking a swipe at the Bush administration's economic problems, Clinton quipped, “Things weren't too bad when I was president, were they?”

President Bush is not expected to attend the Clinton gathering. It was not clear whether he was invited.

Dignitaries expected to attend include Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan; U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon: Mexican President Felipe Calderon; British Prime Minister Gordon Brown; former British Prime Minister Tony Blair; former Vice President Al Gore; Microsoft founder Bill Gates; cyclist Lance Armstrong; musician Bono; and boxer Muhammad Ali.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee for president, is slated to deliver opening remarks at the plenary session on “Integrated Solutions … Water, Food and Energy.” Illinois Sen. Barak Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, will address the attendees by satellite.

Topics for the gathering are: energy-climate change, poverty alleviation, and global health.

During the past four years, the Clinton Initiative has drawn more than 80 heads of state, 130 CEO’s and 10 of the past 16 Nobel Peace Prize recipients.

The initiative is promoted as a meeting place where discussions and traditional debates actually occur, compared with the U.N. assembly, which, though billed as a debate, is no more than a series of individual speeches.

Notably absent from the meeting are Wall Street leaders. Only Citigroup Chairman Robert Rubin, former Clinton treasury secretary, and Swiss Re CEO Jacques Aigrain are on the schedule.

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