September 23, 2010

Clinton Event Produces Support for Road Safety, Clean Water, and Other Global Issues

Road safety, water issues, and religious tolerance drew pledges yesterday from some of the 1,300 business, government, and nonprofit leaders who are participating in this year's Clinton Global Initiative. Altogether, 40 new commitments to solving social problems were made during the second day of the event, according to its organizers.

They include:

  • A $3.75-million grant from the Coca-Cola Company to start eight water projects in Morocco, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and other African countries that have large Muslim populations. The grant is part of a $7.5-milion project that is also being supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.N. Development Program.
  • The FIA Foundation, a British charity that promotes road safety, will spend along with the International Development Bank and other organizations, $10-million to promote safe driving over the next decade, which is being dubbed "the U.N. Decade of Action for Road Safety."
  • A $3-million commitment from Merck & Company to CARE USA and Save the Children, to develop a set of services to care for children's development, health, nutrition, safety, and economic empowerment. At the end of three years, initial results from El Salvador and India will be shared with policy makers and nonprofit leaders.
  • The Cordes Foundation, along with the Calvert Foundation and Giving Assets, a donor-advised fund, pledged to rank the top 50 investment managers who deliver environmental and social returns along with financial returns. 
  • The Lemelson Foundation made three pledges totaling $4.5-million to Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers, to help small coffee farmers in western Tanzania; to NeSsT, to help the organization assist small businesspeople in Latin America; and to the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, to provide students with science education and technical expertise as part of the group's new global initiative.
  • The Rural Development Institute, with support from the Nike Foundation, Omidyar Network, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, committed to start an advocacy campaign to help girls in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia secure land rights.
  • Vittana, a Web site that helps people provide loans to students for their college education, committed to expanding its work to Africa. 
  • The American Cancer Society pledged to develop a public-health campaign to prevent deaths from smoking in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Refugees International, the telecommunications company Ericsson, and Delta Partners, an investment firm, committed to release a mobile-phone application that enables refugees to locate family members via text message. 
  • The Tony Blair Faith Foundation will start an effort in the United States to use interactive education programs to build understanding and tolerance among people of different religions.

A complete list of yesterday's commitments is available on the Clinton event's Web site.

Today's discussions will focus on helping Haiti recover from the January earthquake, saving the world's forests, promoting clean energy, and expanding the use of mobile phones for social purposes.

The Clinton meeting isn't the only event taking in place in New York this week that produced news of interest to nonprofit officials. At the United Nations General Assembly meeting, U.N. chief Ban ki-Moon announced a new $40-billion fund to help reduce deaths among women and children over the next five years. The investment, which is designed to help the world achieve the U.N. Millennium Development Goals of improving maternal and child health by 2015, drew some praise from nonprofit officials.

In a statement, Mary-Jane Wagle, vice president for international programs at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the organization was "heartened" by the financial commitment but that it wasn't enough.

"To ensure that we truly get 'more health for the money,' governments and international donors need to work with local organizations," she said. "Partners on the ground are the ones best placed to guide these efforts."

Today, President Obama is scheduled to speak both at the Clinton event and at the United Nations.