Clinton gets pledges to improve the world

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 December, 2008, 12:00am

Charity commitments exceed US$80m

More than 25 'commitments to action' were made at Bill Clinton's Global Initiative in Hong Kong yesterday, event organisers said.

Those commitments - valued at more than US$80 million - are an important part of the former US president's philanthropic movement, which calls upon regional and global leaders to help tackle some of the world's most pressing problems.

'We ask each participant to make a specific commitment to action, to do something new and measurable to address problems like poverty, education, health care, climate change, religious and ethnic conflicts or other challenges which exist today,' Mr Clinton said.

'We don't require anyone to do anything specific or to spend any particular amount of money. We don't get involved in the implementing or funding of the projects except to offer help with our full-time office of implementation when people need it.'

During the opening session yesterday morning, Mr Clinton called attention to CGI Asia's first three commitments, including a plan to develop a Hong Kong Beach Authority in order to keep city beaches clean.

He applauded the efforts of the Cafe Deco Group, a restaurant group in the city.

'They have made a commitment to attempt to establish a Hong Kong Beach Authority to co-ordinate both public and private efforts to clean up Hong Kong's beaches,' he said.

'There are two components to this commitment. First, Beach Savers will energise and motivate the community to make a consistent lifetime effort to keeping the beaches clean. Second, they will attempt to leverage the momentum from the awareness campaign to encourage the Hong Kong government to establish a Beach Authority, tasked with co-ordinating efforts to clean up all categories of beaches and to arrange for the placement of disposal bins there.'

Mr Clinton said the commitment would involve 191,000 students as well as residents and visitors. 'Of whom I am one,' he said. 'So I'm very grateful for this commitment.'

Additionally, Standard Chartered Bank has teamed up with non-governmental organisation Vital Voices to help the financial education of women in China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Vietnam.

And publisher Big Brother Mouse 'aims to improve literacy in Laos by helping 90 per cent of villages in rural areas to have access to a wide range of books by 2016', Mr Clinton said.

Nearly 1,200 commitments, valued at US$46 million, have been made at the Clinton Global Initiative since it was set up in 2005.

'Commitments can be of money, time, skills, even changes in core business practices which can have a huge impact on the climate change problem,' he said.

Other commitments yesterday included Habitat for Humanity China saying it would contribute US$12.5 million over the next 18 months to help rebuilding after the Sichuan earthquake.

Key pledges

US$12.5 million over 18 months on rebuilding three communities hit by the Sichuan earthquake

US$640,000 over three years for Aids-affected young people

US$4 million over five years to combat hepatitis B

US$2.2 million over four years to promote carbon dioxide-free energy

US$1.2 million over three years for improved sanitation in Cambodia and India

US$27 million over three years for new agricultural techniques

US$7 million over next three years for non-religious curriculum for needy Indonesian students

Source: CGI Asia