What is the Clinton Global Initiative?

Today I’m in New York covering the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative summit for TKS. You’re probably asking just what CGI is and does.

Since 2005, President Bill Clinton has held a conference attended by some of the most prominent figures in the international community. Their goal? According to the mission statement, CGI aims to “to turn ideas into action.”

In order to achieve this goal, the convention brings together an impressive list of attendees, including “more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media,” according to their website.

This year, the opening plenary session, which I attended earlier today, featured a panel discussion on the theme of the conference, Designing for Impact. The panel included President Bill Clinton, Her Majesty Queen Rania AL Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, President of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Michael T. Duke President and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

The way it works

CGI achieves progress by gathering people with the means to institute “Commitments to Action,” in other words projects in areas of the globe with glaring needs in the realms of environmental impact, health, gender equality and many other tracks.

A full list of the tracks, along with descriptions, is available at this link, with a list of the 2012 tracks.

Presently more than 2,100 of these commitments have been made, making a difference in the daily realities of more than 400 million people in upwards of 180 countries. When these projects reach their full capacity, their value is estimated to be $69.2 billion.

Ever since volunteering at the press desk in 2010, I’ve looked forward to the day when I would be able to come back and experience the conference from the other side and spread the word of this incredible event to whatever audience would listen.

For live updates on the summit, follow Julian on Twitter @inkpenguin.