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Clinton Global Initiative Shines Spotlight on Designing for Impact

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 24, 2012 04:17 PM

"Designing for impact” is the theme of this year’s Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting, the annual philanthropic TED-like session now underway in New York.

Former President Bill Clinton framed the discussion in his opening remarks on Sunday, as noted in TIME: “Today we want to talk about how you can design your actions in advance to make it more likely they will succeed.”

He went on to challenge Walmart to open a store in Libya creating jobs in the world's hot spot for trouble and woes. "If the new president of Libya asked you to open a store in Tripoli, would you consider it?" Clinton asked Walmart CEO Mike Duke, part of the opening panel that included U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Queen Rania of Jordan and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. Duke's dry-witted response: his "small company from Arkansas" has operations in regions of sub-Saharan Africa, but no presence or plans for Tripoli.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced, "I'm going to sound an alarm to all the leaders. We are living in an era of insecurity, injustice, inequality and intolerance, and what should we do?" as he called on business leaders like Walmart to act "for humanity" and not just for profit.

“The CGI annual meeting is the apotheosis of philanthrocapitalism—big companies and world leaders meeting NGOs to solve major global problems, with the 42nd President of the U.S. overseeing it all,” comments TIME.

The meeting, attended by Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton, also highlighted Procter & Gamble’s project focused on providing 2 billion liters of clean drinking water every year to save the life of one child per hour in the developing world. P&G’s Purifier of Water technology just shared its 5 billionth liter in Malawi saving an estimated 26,000 lives and preventing over 200 million days of illness.

Joining that cause is Smokey Robinson’s Smoke Alarm, aggregating celebrity social media feeds into a global initiative to raise funds for the P&G program in collaboration with CP+B. Smoke Alarm already counts Elton John, Eva Longoria, James Franco, LMFAO, Daryl Hall, Brandy and others and when it reaches 200 million followers, Robinson will turn the global switch on and sound the alarm.

Clinton created the Global Initiative in 2005 and member commitments have reached 2,100 in more than 180 countries, but the key challenge according to Kim is, "How do you go from promising initiatives to taking things to scale? We need to plan for scale from the beginning. Designing for impact means taking that scale seriously,” as Kim told TIME.

An example, cited by Tim Brown, CEO of design group IDEO, is lack of proper sewage and access to clean toilets suffered by nearly 40% of the world’s population. IDEO is working with Unilever on WSUP, Water Sanitation for the Urban Poor that includes rentals of portable toilets. “Great design is anything that meets the need of the community that it is developed for,” said Brown.

The 2012 CGI Annual Meeting sponsors are: Abraaj Capital, American Federation of Teachers, Ambassador Gianna Angelopoulos, APCO Worldwide, Barclays, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cisco, CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, Delos Living, Deutsche Bank, Diageo PLC, The Dow Chemical Company, Duke Energy Corporation, ExxonMobil, The Ford Foundation, Varkey GEMS Foundation, The Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, Hewlett-Packard, Inter-American Development Bank, InterEnergy, Jive Software, Knoll Inc, Laureate International Universities, Microsoft Corporation, NRG Energy Inc, Procter & Gamble, The Rockefeller Foundation, Shangri-La Industries, Standard Chartered Bank, Starkey Hearing Foundation, Swiss Reinsurance Company, Tom Golisano, Toyota Motors Corporation, United Postcode Lotteries, The Victor Pinchuk Foundation, and Western Union Financial Services Inc.

Among the corporate citizenship commitments announced at this CGI Meeting: Catapult, an online funding platform aiding girls and women.

The Clinton meeting is taking place as the United Nations convenes in New York, where the United Nations Foundation today launched its largest and most ambitious digital initiative to date: the Global Good Challenge.

Participants are asked to "donate their voices"  through mid-November by engaging their online networks to support the UN’s work online or on Facebook in return for prizes that include VIP backstage passes for a Lady Gaga concert, MTV Video Music Awards tickets, and a visit to the set of "The Celebrity Apprentice" for a meeting with Ivanka and Donald Trump.

"The Global Good Challenge is a new way for people to use technology and social media for social good. With the click of a button each person can be a digital champion for the world and help support the life-saving and life-changing work of the United Nations," stated Elizabeth Gore, VP Partnerships at the UNF.

Philanthrocapitalism — scaled-solutions, abetted by social media and collaboration, and aided by best-of-breed innovative thinkers and brands.

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