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Associated Press – Clinton Global Initiative restarted to tackle urgent needs

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This originally appeared in Associated Press on March 4, 2021.

The Clinton Foundation is planning another Clinton Global Initiative – a high-profile gathering of business, political and philanthropic leaders – this September in New York, according to a letter former President Bill Clinton sent to the foundation’s supporters Friday.

The initiative, which began meeting annually in 2005 and boasted speakers ranging from former presidents Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter to celebrity philanthropists like Bono and Ben Affleck, ended in 2016 during former Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, when questions were raised about the appearance of potential conflicts of interests if donors then had business before Hillary Clinton’s administration.

Bill Clinton said he wants to bring back the initiative because the kind of “cooperation and coordination” it created is urgently needed. “The COVID-19 pandemic has ripped the cover off of longstanding inequities and vulnerabilities across our global community,” Bill Clinton wrote in the letter Friday. “The existential threat of climate change grows every day. Democracy is under assault around the world, most glaringly in Ukraine where Russia has launched an unjustified and unprovoked invasion that has put millions of lives in grave danger.”

Clinton said the meeting, which will coincide with the United Nations General Assembly in September, will likely look different than it has in the past, perhaps in reference to new health and security concerns. However, he hopes the spirit of cooperation it fostered will return.

“It seems that all across the globe, people are pulling away from those who are different from them—putting our future at greater risk and making it harder to solve the challenges and seize the opportunities in front of us.”

According to the foundation, more than 3,700 projects and partnerships resulted from the Clinton Global Initiative, making a difference in the lives of more than 435 million people in over 180 countries.

“While the challenges our world faces today are steep, CGI has always been about what we can do, not what we can’t do,” Clinton wrote. “And by bringing diverse partners together to take action and achieve real results, we can create a culture of possibility in a world hungry for hope.”