Bill Clinton

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Chelsea Clinton champions youth engagement and women’s rights | 

Chelsea Clinton leads a plenary discussion at CGI.
Chelsea Clinton leads a plenary discussion at CGI 2013.
CGI

(New York) – Chelsea Clinton recognizes that being the daughter of a former US President and former Secretary State pushes her onto the American political stage.

It is an opportunity rather than a burden for Clinton. In a conversation with a small group of bloggers on the Sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative last week, she described her interest in women’s rights, national service and youth engagement.

CGI used to host a separate track for women and girls. The idea was to raise the issues concerning the group, but the foundation came to realize that it was not a separate issue. Rather, women and girls are a part of all aspects of development.

“All of our work must have implications for girls and women and for the gender gap,” she said.

The organization now advises its members to consider how they are going to reach women and girls, as well as other marginalized groups, when developing their pledges. The change is working, she said. Nearly two-thirds of all commitments this year included women and girls in their plans. That is up from half last year. Continue reading

Any innovations at the big conferences this week? “Not really.” | 

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CGI

As you probably heard, this week New York City played host to word leaders at the United Nations, celebrities and businessmen at the Clinton Global Initiative, as well as young techies passionate about development at the Social Good conference.

Lucky for you, Humanosphere’s man on the East Coast, Tom Murphy, was there to see all the action firsthand. Despite the stuffy press rooms and being herded like cattle with other reporters into side alleys, Tom still managed to get some facetime with big names, like microfinance luminary Mohammed Yunus and Chelsea Clinton.

So, what got done? Did Bill Clinton, whose handlers have attracted criticism in the press as of late, facilitate ground-breaking new pledges to better the world? Did Mashable’s Social Good conference generate smart ideas for how to use technology in the fight against poverty?

The answer in the headline is a bit of a spoiler, but it’s really more complicated than that. Tune in below to hear Tom spill the beans – the good, the bad, and the jokes.

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Navigating the dynamics of power and security at Clinton Global Initiative | 

The press at work at CGI.
The press at work at CGI.

To interview Chelsea Clinton alongside a small group of bloggers we were directed to meet in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel, home to the Clinton Global Initiative.

Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard waited for a elevator to take her ostensibly up to her room, while Population Services International head Karl Hofmann awaited for a meeting and Grameen Bank founder Mohammad Yunus exited to travel to more meetings.

The main entrance for the Sheraton is along 7th avenue. People are allowed to freely enter and leave through the automatically rotating giant doors, unless they are carrying bags. CGI staff stand alongside the rails directing people carrying bags to an x-ray machine and personal search. Once cleared they are allowed to enter the crowded lobby flanked by an overcrowded Starbucks cafe and a lounge area converted into a pop-up television recording pit.
Continue reading

The dilemma of eating locally and hurting others globally | 

Farmer plants rice in the Philippines. Credit:  International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
Farmer plants rice in the Philippines. Credit: International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

Want to change the world? Many tell you to start at the grocery story…or with your local farmers market.

Eat less meat, go organic, eat local and eat healthier. Such recommendations can be heard just about anywhere and they often end with a call to demand support for American farmers, or politically, renewal of the US Farm Bill. The argument sounds sensible on a quick glance and certainly so from a US-centric, self-serving perspective. But it may not be so sensible and good.

Modern food production and distribution systems are today international in scope and affect almost everyone, everywhere – and in many ways that may surprise you.

As the same time, eating local – locavores – has increasingly become a popular trend in the United States. Farm-to-table restaurants are popping up touting that they source all their products locally. The appeal is that consumers can get fresh (often organic) produce at nearly the same cost while supporting local businesses and reducing the massive carbon footprint produced by shipping food across the United States.

The trend has come with wider public recognition of the downside of industrial food production: The antibiotics used for livestock protect against disease (and boosts production) but this also builds drug resistance that has negative ramifications for people’s health. The high overall consumption of meat hurts the environment – from the methane produced by cows to the amount of land and water needed to care for them. Policies by governments and purchases by consumers have an impact on farmers from Arkansas to Haiti to the Horn of Africa.

The choice between eating cheap supermarket food versus being a sustainable locavore is not really as simple as it looks, at least if your goal is to make the world a better place. Continue reading

And the next president of the World Bank will be … | 

Probably an American and possibly, some say, Bill Clinton or Andy Summers.

The World Bank is an institution created in the closing days of World War II to provide loans to poor and/or struggling countries based on the concept that a healthy global economy is good for all of us.

See, this ‘globalization’ stuff really isn’t that new. The World Bank’s approach to helping poor countries hasn’t always worked out too well or been seen as very healthy (see ‘structural adjustment‘ or economic ‘shock therapy‘ programs) but alleviating global poverty is the stated goal of the institution.

World Bank

The news this week is that World Bank president Robert Zoellick, who before taking the post in 2007 was a Goldman Sachs executive (yes, they’re everywhere), is stepping down. So now the buzz is all about who will replace him. By tradition, the head of the WB is always an American.

Nancy Birdsall, at the Center for Global Development, asks Does it matter who runs the world bank? Yes it does. Continue reading

Wordy word AIDS Day | 

Flickr, Pink Sherbet Photography

No, that’s not a typo.

I’ve decided to mark this 30th anniversary of the recognized beginning of the pandemic as Wordy AIDS Day rather than use its official name, World AIDS Day, because most of what the international community is doing is saying they want to continue the fight against AIDS even as they retreat.

As Sarah Boseley of The Guardian writes, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria is threatening to ‘collapse’ thanks to governments reneging on their promised donations. The bottom line here is that there is insufficient funding to meet the existing challenge while politicians like Sec. of State Hillary Clinton proclaim we are on the verge of an “AIDS-free generation.” Says Boseley:

If this were not so deadly serious it would be absurd. As Clinton declares the end of AIDS is nigh with one massive last push, the donor governments, mostly in Europe, sit on their wallets. HIV/AIDS has gone out of favour.

It needs to be said that there has been progress, with a remarkable scale-up in getting people on treatment (about 40 percent of those who need the drugs in Africa) and 20-25 percent reductions in mortality.

Recent scientific studies have shown that getting people on anti-HIV drugs prevents transmission of the virus so it is possible, in theory anyway, to halt the pandemic by getting everyone infected on treatment.

Yet even as we may be at a beneficial ‘tipping point’ in the fight against AIDS, the world community’s commitment to the fight is flagging. Funding for the global fight against HIV/AIDS dropped by 10 percent last year. IRIN called it a Deadly Funding Crisis.

Two old-time warriors in the fight ask, on CNN, if what we should be celebrating is Another 30 Years of AIDS?

One of the presumed bright spots in this gloomy landscape was celebrated today with President Barack Obama’s announcement that the U.S. plans to “win this fight’ and has increased its global commitment to get anti-HIV drugs to two million more people by 2013.

Obama’s announcement was webcast by the ONE Campaign with commentary from a slew of other bigwigs like Bono, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

The Obama Administration’s new commitment to the global fight will be good news if it actually happens. Little noticed was the fine print that said this would be accomplished not by donating more money but by “increasing efficiency.” Only the domestic HIV/AIDS needs got actual new money, $50 million.

Here are some other worthy links for this day, Wordy AIDS Day:

Alanna Shaikh at UN Dispatch: The End of the Beginning of the End of AIDS?

ONE’s Erin Hohlfelder: Act V, The End of AIDS

George W Bush in Wall Street Journal: No Retreat in the Fight Against AIDS

NPR: What a lack of funding could mean for Africa

The Independent: Victory is in sight but cuts in funding could spoil it all

Simon Bland of Global Fund: Yes, we’re alive but progress in peril

AIDS Meeting: Link Round-Up | 

At the 2010 International AIDS Conference, Bill Clinton and Bill Gates urged the world to continue the progress made against the pandemic, scientists report success with a new HIV-preventive tool for women and UNAIDS reminded us that 10 million HIV-positive people who need treatment are not getting it:

  1. The two Bills called for donors to keep commitments to fund AIDS efforts and for more “efficiency” in spending.
  2. A New York Times report on new tools, efforts aimed at preventing HIV in women.
  3. Huffpo: A report on the glitz, the hope and despair of this high-profile meeting.
  4. There has been progress getting more people on treatment.
  5. This was supposed to be the year we had universal access to AIDS drugs. Here’s the UNAIDS’ assessment of where we’re at, about 10 million or so people short.