Less Money, More Commitment?
The organizers of the Clinton Global Initiative, unfolding this week in New York, expect the actual dollars committed to projects this year to decline over the 2008 total because of the global recession – but they also expect the number of commitments (the CGI term for development deals) to increase.
There are more than 1,200 delegates to this annual gathering – timed to coincide with the opening of the United Nations each September – including more than 60 heads of state. That's more people than attended last year, when more than $8 billion was committed through about 250 partnerships, facilitated (and tracked) by the year-round CGI commitment process.
CGI CEO Robert Harrison told Reuters this week that he wasn't even sure there would be a 2009 meeting if corporations weren't able to continue their funding and involvement.
"I was genuinely nervous that companies would close their
pocketbooks and that this would be a very bad time for corporate social
responsibility and … grants," Harrison said. "All of us have been very pleasantly surprised at how none of that is the case."
He said that while the dollar number may be lower, CGI expected a greater number of commitments this year. CGI continues to evolve, meanwhile: this year there are fewer panel discussions and more collaborative sessions designed to let delegates meet (and develop commitments). Since it kicked off in 2005, there have been 1,400 commitments valued at $46 billion. But the number President Clinton always mentions first is the number of people assisted by a program that came out of CGI – a number the organization pegs at 200 million people worldwide.