Sep 23
September 23, 2012

Turning Ideas Into Action


Our 21st century world is more interdependent than ever, and it demands a new kind of citizenship: one where we work together to advance the common good and to build a stronger, more inclusive global community. One of the most rewarding parts about the work I do today, through my Foundation, is watching just how deeply this new concept of citizenship has taken root, and how much it has already accomplished.

When we began our work 11 years ago, we recognized quickly that we couldn’t do it alone. To address the HIV/AIDS crisis in the developing world, we brought drug manufacturers to the table to negotiate lower prices on key medicines, and we convened governments to guarantee payments. Because of their cooperation, today more than 4.5 million people are receiving treatment at the prices we negotiated – more than half of the total number of people on treatment.

We then took this model and applied it to other challenges. And as our work expanded, we noticed something else: more and more people wanted to be a part of it. Businesses, governments, and ordinary citizens were coming together and asking, “How can we help?”

I saw that there were people who had the resources to make an impact, but they weren’t sure how to connect their resources with the right work – and people who had good ideas, but were looking for resources. So, we created a platform where more of these partnerships could take shape. The first Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, in 2005, brought together some of the world’s most influential and innovative citizens – Nobel Prize winners, global CEOs, heads of state, and visionary leaders from the NGO community – to take part in a new kind of meeting – one with less speeches and more conversation, and one that would help people turn their good ideas into real-world action.

We ask all attendees to make a Commitment to Action – a concrete plan to address a major global challenge. Since 2005, these commitments have made a difference in the lives of more than 400 million people, and will have a value of $69.2 billion once fully implemented. They’ve improved the quality of education for 44 million children, invested or loaned more than $2.5 billion in capital to small and medium enterprises, and protected or restored 122 million acres of forests.

Our CGI model has been so successful that we expanded it in 2007 at the college level. We launched CGI University to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses, which has resulted in more than 3,000 Commitments to Action. And in 2011, recognizing the urgent need to address economic recovery in the United States, we launched CGI America. Over two years, CGI America participants have made more than 160 Commitments to Action, valued at $12.8 billion – all focused on boosting America’s economy.

As we continue to have these meetings, we think about “the how question” – how we can develop a better process to make a bigger impact. This year, the Annual Meeting is focused on a single theme for the fist time – “Designing for Impact” – to help our members achieve every objective that they want.  And we’re continuing to prove the power of today’s global citizens to design tomorrow’s world.