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Press Release: President Clinton Hosts Special Session on Northern Ireland; Announces New Commitments Focused on Harnessing Innovation for Development

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Special Session on Northern Ireland, moderated by President Clinton, featured Peter Robinson, first minister from Northern Ireland Executive; Martin McGuinness, deputy First Minister, Northern Ireland Executive; Declan Kelly, economic envoy to Northern Ireland, U.S. Department of State; Shaun Woodward, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; and Michéal Martin, Minster of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Ireland.

Matthew Bishop, New York bureau chief at The Economist, moderated discussion on innovation, which featured Al Gore, chairman of the Alliance for Climate Protection; Jack Ma, chairman and CEO of the Alibaba Group; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, managing director of The World Bank Group; Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation; and Muhammad Yunus, founder and managing director of Grameen Brank

New York – The second day of the Fifth Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) came to a close with a special session on Northern Ireland, following afternoon plenary and breakout sessions that focused on harnessing innovation for development.

“Innovation can mean a new business model, a new technology, or a new way of delivering services to the poor,” President Clinton said. “No matter the form it takes, innovation is key to the challenges that face our world. There are so many people around the world we have yet to reach – we must find new ways to develop and implement innovative solutions on a massive scale.”

At the afternoon plenary session, “Harnessing Innovation for Development,” six notable leaders discussed how innovation can empower the poor, fight climate change, increase access to education, and improve health care. Matthew Bishop, New York bureau chief at The Economist, moderated the discussion, which included Al Gore, chairman of the Alliance for Climate Protection, Jack Ma, chairman and CEO of the Alibaba Group, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, managing director of The World Bank Group, Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, and Muhammad Yunus, founder and managing director of Grameen Brank.

Highlights from the discussion included former Vice President Al Gore highlighted the innovative tools that already exist in the fight against climate changed and emphasized the importance of putting a price on carbon. Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, spoke about the potential for social businesses to improve lives around the world. As an example, he cited Grameen Danone Foods, a partnership between the Grameen Group and Group Danone, to produce fortified yogurt to nutritionally-deprived people in Bangladesh where close to half of all children under 5 are underweight. He also noted that mobile technology has the potential to improve education and health care in poor areas.

President Clinton convened the session by announcing six new commitments fueled by innovation. A full list of today's commitments included below.

The special session focused on Northern Ireland, moderated by President Clinton, included key figures who exercised political leadership to secure peace in Northern Ireland, including Peter Robinson, first minister from Northern Ireland Executive; Martin McGuinness, deputy First Minister, Northern Ireland Executive; Declan Kelly, economic envoy to Northern Ireland, U.S. Department of State; Shaun Woodward, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; and Michéal Martin, Minster of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Ireland. Panelists discussed factors that can make Northern Ireland more appealing for foreign investors, how local businesses can reach their markets in the U.S., and how talents of young people in the region can be utilized through entrepreneurship.

The Fifth Annual Meeting of CGI will continue until Friday. To learn more, or to watch the meeting webcast live, visit

Commitments Announced on Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The following commitments were announced this afternoon at plenary and breakout sessions focused on “Harnessing Innovation for Development”:

Visa will build on the success of its 2008 commitment with a new commitment to reach 20 million people worldwide with financial literacy education by May 1, 2013. To help reach this expanded goal, Visa will launch 'Financial Football', an interactive, soccer-based video game developed with FIFA, an innovative new approach for helping children and adults learn about personal finance;

Blue Engine will provide one-on-one direct instruction to both high and low performing high school students in New York City through customized tutorials. This program aims to double the number of students enrolled in advanced coursework while simultaneously increasing the number of students who pass end-of-year examinations, with a focus on helping young people from underrepresented, low-income communities.

The Carnegie Foundation commits to support five African postgraduate training and research networks, involving 16 African universities and research centers, in nine countries. This commitment will strengthen higher education insub-Saharan Africa by increasing the population of qualified faculty members in the sciences and technology in African universities.

The Lumina Foundation for Education commits to scaling up its campaign of policy advocacy and direct technical support, Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count. This initiative will help community colleges make the institutional changes required to dramatically increase the number of students who succeed in reaching their goals, with a particular focus on low-income students and students of color.

Procter & Gamble will launch Future Friendly, a natural resource educational initiative that will reach 50 million U.S. households by Earth Day 2010. This will promote the adoption of P&G Sustainable Innovation Products in 30 million U.S. households, which will each achieve at least a 10 percent savings in water, energy, or waste, without trade-offs in performance or value.

Duke Energy and ENN, leading energy companies in the U.S. and in China, commit to form a partnership to accelerate development of low-carbon energy solutions. The companies have committed to accelerate clean energy technology development in solar technology and manufacturing, zero emissions coal technology systems, algae for carbon capture and biofuels, and smart grid-enabled energy efficiency.

  Solazyme commits to work toward commercialization of its renewable oil that produces advanced oils from cellulosic materials such as algae. This revolutionary technology creates biofuels and edible oils, thereby reducing greenhouse gas impacts while improving the well-being of communities.

Adaptive Eyewear, in line with the government of Rwanda's National Plan for the Elimination of Needless Blindness, will implement a pilot program to perform eye screenings and distribute self-adjusting eyeglasses in the district of Gicumbi. The pilot will hopefully lead to a national rollout, covering the remaining 29 districts of Rwanda by 2014.

Bridge International Academies (BIA) commits to deliver a high-quality education to more than one million students in sub-Saharan Africa over the next decade. Charging less than $4 per child per month, BIA will empower poor families to pursue an education, while enabling local franchise owners to operate their school businesses profitably.

  Oxfam America commits to recruit high profile women as Sisters on the Planet Ambassadors to put a human face on climate change and raise awareness about its impacts and solutions. The women will also engage members of Congress on the need for forward-thinking, well-funded climate legislation in the United States.

Paso Pacifico and its partners commit to carry out programs advancing women as environmental leaders across Central America, providing education, training, and opportunities in sustainable tourism and resource management. By linking women's livelihoods to climate change mitigation programs, it will improve the well-being of local communities, and help preserve natural resources and the environment.

His Majesty King Abdullah, on behalf of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, commits to pledge $30 million towards the Global Polio Eradication initiative, and to expand the Saudirequirement for every pilgrim entering Saudi Arabia for the Hajj to receive a polio vaccination.

Genzyme Corporation and its partners commit to raise awareness for and support passage of legislation recently introduced in the U.S. Congress for a partial tax credit that provides financial incentive for companies to invest in neglected tropical disease (NTD) research and development. Genzyme will also continue to support new work under existing collaborations for NTDs.

HelloWallet commits to provide a year of free financial advice to one low-income family for every five paying subscribers, and will provide a minimum of 300,000 low-income families in the U.S. with free advice over the next five years. By connecting low-income families to money-saving tools, financial products, and services, this commitment will generate millions in savings.

The Inter-American Development Bank, the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Disease Control at the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and the Pan American Health Organization will raise awareness of NTDs and mobilize resources for treatment and control. These organizations will mobilize new investments, advocate for NTD control among potential funders, create reference guides for policymakers, and launch water and sanitation pilot programs

The Arthur Guinness Fund, a philanthropic arm of Diageo's Guinness brand, working in partnership with EnterpriseWorks, will fund CrystalPur water filters, providing clean water to 250,000 low-income individuals. By creating a private sector supply chain for the filters at an affordable price for communities, this commitment addresses the critical need to create an inexpensive point-of-use water treatment device in developing countries.

Autism Speaks launched the Global Autism Public Health Initiative to enhance public awareness of autism and train community-based providers to screen, diagnose, and treat autism. This commitment advances Autism Speaks' ongoing efforts in Albania, India, Mexico, and Qatar, and includes launching national autism awareness campaigns and training courses. Autism Speaks will also expand these programs into Chile and the Philippines.

The following commitments were announced this morning at a plenary session on Investing in Girls and Women:

Merck and Qiagen are launching a major new partnership to prevent cervical cancer in the poorest countries of the world. The program will facilitate the development of national comprehensive cervical cancer prevention and control programs that integrate two breakthrough technologies, HPV vaccines and HPV DNA tests. These programs will benefit at least 1.5 million girls and 1.5 million women.

The ING Foundation and Girls Incorporated commit to expanding the ING-Girls Inc. Investment Challenge, an innovative program giving girls hands-on investing experience while allowing them to keep their gains as college scholarships.  Increasing the number of cities participating in the program, this commitment will have a direct impact on 100 young women's lives, while increasing financial literacy in the U.S.

The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women (CBFW) and Tomorrow's Youth Organization (TYO) are engaging in a new partnership, committing to increase women's participation in the Palestinian labor force and their contribution to the economy of Nablus by offering customized training opportunities and services that will increase participants' business, craft, and innovation skills.

Sustainable Health Enterprise commits to provide access to affordable, eco-friendly sanitary pads, plus health and hygiene education, through sustainable, locally-led businesses, for one million girls and women in Africa by 2012. This commitment will increase school/work attendance, decrease pelvic infections, and drive economic growth.

Plan USA and its partners commit over the next three years to train 140 adolescent girls from Ghana in media production and journalism skills, empowering the girls to advocate against gender discrimination through diverse media. This commitment will increase awareness of the needs of adolescent girls in West Africa by reaching a radio and television audience of approximately 1 million.

The Freeplay Foundation commits to distribute its award-winning, self-powered Lifeline radios and new clean energy Lifelights to poor women and girls in Rwanda, directly benefiting 20,000 people. The Lifelights will enable women to extend their business hours and the radios will enable the women and girls to access health, literacy, and practical skills, as well as agricultural advice.

The Nike Foundation and its partners commit to utilize the Adolescent Girls' Global Health Agenda to advocate around the report's key recommendations to stimulate global attention and investment in adolescent girls' health. The Grameen Nurse Institute in Bangladesh will serve as a sustainable business model to demonstrate how girl-focused innovation improves outcomes for everyone.

Exxon Mobil commits to identify and deploy innovative technologies to advance economic opportunities for women in developing countries, in partnership with the Ashoka Changemaker Campus Initiative and the International Center for Research on Women. The project will improve the quality of life of women in developing countries and enable them to participate more fully in income-generating activities.

Goldman Sachs commits to working with partners including the Inter-American Development Bank to provide women entrepreneurs in Peru with quality business education and enhanced access to capital. Their efforts will offer more than 700 high-potential small business owners with the specialized training, access to capital, networking, and mentoring necessary to significantly expand their businesses.

Hathay Bunano and its partners commit over the next year to develop 22 handicraft production centers in Bangladesh which will provide training and subsequent employment for 2000 destitute women. Hathay Bunano will train the women in hand knitting and hand crochet, enabling them to make high quality, export-orientated children's toys to be sold worldwide.

Pro Mujer commits to provide poor women in Latin America with an integrated package of microfinance, healthcare, and training that will allow them to take an active role in changing their lives and creating a better future for their families. The organization's goal is to expand its reach to 350,000 women and impact the lives of more than 1.7 million children.

General Mills and CARE will launch “Join My Village” which will tap the power of online communities to connect women in the U.S. with families in Malawi, igniting a new level of consumer education and involvement. Ongoing reports from the field will enable consumers to participate in the lives of some of the poorest women and girls in Africa.

  Women for Women International commits to improve the livelihoods of 103,000 female survivors of war over the next three years. This will be accomplished by a comprehensive program of rights education and vocational and business skills training. These will give the women access to the resources that allow them to participate in their countries' political and economic decision-making.

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