I heart CGD and apologies

First, the apology: I should have been blogging a lot more last week from the Clinton Global Initiative, but it turned out to be pretty much impossible in light of many work related obligations. I will say, though, that I was really glad to be involved only from afar with the logistics of this event (unlike my NY based Clinton Foundation colleagues) – so much work goes into the organization of a high-level conference such as this one, I was tired just looking at the small army of Clintonites running around for 3 solid days.

It was a really great experience – even though I sometimes felt a little out of place, a little bit like a “fly on the wall”, as the majority of those present are incredibly accomplished individuals from all sectors – NGOs, governments (although not enough Western reps in my sense), private sector, international institutions. They all gather for 3 days around Bill Clinton (seriously – they gather around him), and make promises to change the world. It’s pretty incredible. This year, members made 250 commitments, valued at $8 billion, to impact 158 million lives.

Those are some serious numbers.

One of the most positive aspects of this conference is that it allows attendees to mingle during pretty fascinating working sessions (the one on poverty alleviation chaired by Madeleine Albright was great for instance). It allows for views and perspectives to be confronted in interesting ways. Then, the fact that throughout the 3 days, commitments are made by the prestigious attendees, really enhances the quality of the gathering. If anything, this conference encourages meaningful cooperation between sectors, and the search for common solutions to common problems prevails over particular interests (at least in the short run – I am not that idealistic…)

While not my field of predilection, I highly recommend to reading/watching/listening to some of the sessions on climate change, particularly this one, which features John McCain and Barack Obama, among others – and, because he was such a great speaker, Al Gore’s comments in the opening plenary.
Or just watch the whole thing here.

In related news, Nancy Birdsall, the president of CGD, delivered some sharp remarks at the UN, highlighting the painful truth of highly inefficient and non-transparent official development aid:

“How ironic that the United Nations carefully assesses and reports on the progress of developing countries against the MDGs, but has no measures or indicators and no periodic official reports on the progress of the rich countries against their commitments to those goals!

“At the moment the only concrete measure of rich country commitment is the proportion of GDP dedicated to aid. Yet the quality of aid is on average so poor—because it is tied, fragmented, uncoordinated and unaligned with developing country programs and budgets, and almost entirely input-based instead of outcome-oriented—that the quantity from any one donor is a poor measure of even that donor’s own real contribution. And of course aid itself is only one measure of a rich country’s overall commitment to development and the war on poverty.”

It makes me wonder whether a case could be made that international development (not humanitarian efforts, which are different), should be undertaken by non-governmental actors (in

the broad sense of the expression). I’m not the biggest free market advocate out there, but something should be said about how much more efficient private sector efforts are in bringing about positive systemic change in the developing world.

Some photos of CGI:

Mayor Bloomberg, Lance Armstrong, WJC

The Queen of Jordan, Ellennnnnnn!!!, the chairman of Coca-Cola, Bono and Al Gore.

H.W. Bush and WJC

A pretty crappy shot of Gordon Brown

Here is Bono, spreading the good word – apparently, he’s been doing it elsewhere too.

One thought on “I heart CGD and apologies

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