PAUL BOIS In a statement on Friday, former President Bill Clinton said the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) will be making its comeback to address the many challenges facing the world today, from climate change to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Cooperation and coordination has never been more urgent than it is now,” wrote the former president. “The COVID-19 pandemic has ripped the cover off of longstanding inequities and vulnerabilities across our global community. The existential threat of climate change grows every day.”
“Democracy is under assault around the world, most glaringly in Ukraine where Russia has launched an unjustified and unprovoked invasion that has put millions of lives in grave danger,” he continued. “The number of displaced people and refugees worldwide is higher than it has ever been—more than one in 95 of all people alive on the planet today has been forced to flee their home—and rising.”
A subset of the infamous Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative “convenes global and emerging leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges,” according to its website.
“Rather than directly implementing projects, CGI facilitates action by helping members connect, collaborate, and develop Commitments to Action — new, specific, and measurable plans that address global challenges,” it says of itself.
The Clinton Global Initiative ended in 2016 as Hillary Clinton launched her presidential campaign, fearing it could create a conflict of interest. It will convene for between September 19 to September 21 in New York City.
“Just like the world we’re living in, the September meeting will likely look different than the ones we held before. But what will not be different is the spirit that has driven CGI from the very beginning—the idea that we can accomplish more together than we can apart,” the former president said in his announcement.
Past events have featured A-list celebrity speakers and top business executives such as Ben Affleck, Bono, and former Presidents Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter. The initiative has also been sponsored by major corporations, from Coca-Cola, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, Blackstone Group, Laureate Education, Monsanto, and Standard Chartered Bank. As the Washington Examiner profiled in 2016 upon the initiative’s downturn, CGI has drawn criticism for “its atypical method of operation.”
“Instead of issuing traditional grants to groups in need, the Clinton Global Initiative’s primary function is to convene powerful figures from the business, political or entertainment worlds and encourage them to pledge contributions for future projects called ‘commitments,’” noted the Examiner.
“However, the group’s most recent philanthropic portfolio indicates fewer than half of the thousands of commitments made since 2005 have ever been completed,” it added. “The charity’s financial structure has also raised eyebrows, since most direct contributions go toward the annual meeting or salaries rather than philanthropy.”