Ksenija Pavlovic, political scientist and Editor-In-Chief of The Pavlovic Today records in her political diary Day 1 of the Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. She writes about her favorite moments from the meetings, in which the most dedicated group of problem solvers, visionaries, celebrities, and altruists in the world have committed to help alleviate poverty and disease, and further global development.
On Monday, September 19, I found myself at the Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City. Early morning in midtown Manhattan was swamped by NYPD police and government vehicles with tinted windows. On the same morning, the United Nations hosted world leaders for the 71st session of the UN General Assembly, CNN was sending breaking news on the Chelsea terrorist attack and yet, for the twelfth year, former President Bill Clinton was somehow successful in managing to pull in global game-changers for three full days in the premises of the Sheraton hotel and keep them interested, energized, and engaged to resolving burning global issues, from the refugee crises to the containment of Zika.
Heads of states from countries all across the world, chief executives, leaders of non-governmental organizations, and the finest political experts attended groundbreaking sessions focused on turning ideas into action. Such sessions included the importance of gender equality in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, partnerships as a key to global prosperity, and opportunities for those in the world’s toughest places.
10:15 AM. The Metropolitan ballroom on the second floor of Sheraton hotel was packed. The Opening Plenary Session: Partnership for Global Prosperity, put forward an interesting idea that global prosperity can only be reached through the pursuit of partnership and recognition of our own interdependence. On the matters of creative cooperation, the members of the Clinton Global Initiative had an opportunity to engage with remarks from Chelsea Clinton, Bono, John Allen, President Bill Clinton, Mauricio Macri (President of Argentina), Matteo Renzi (Prime Minister of Italy), and Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London).
Former President Clinton began the final Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative by saying, “I think the way to end this is not on a nostalgia trip, but doing what we set up to do. Which is just keep working to push the ball forward.”’
Reflecting on the past twelve years, Bill Clinton said : “No one had ever had a meeting where you invited political leaders, business leaders, philanthropists, NGO leaders from developing countries and from developed countries and in some case just concerned citizens and said, ‘Come here talk about the problems, but you actually have to commit to do something’.”
1:00 PM. The afternoon plenary : “Succeeding in the World’s Toughest Places”, explored successful approaches for doing business and providing access to services in the toughest places, with an emphasis on youth and marginalized groups. Raj Panjabi (CEO, Last Mile Health) opened the session, followed by a panel with Hikmet Ersek (President and CEO, Western Union), Lara Setrakian (Executive Editor and CEO, News Deeply), and Muzoon Almellehan (Student and Education Advocate, Malala Fund), and moderated by David Miliband (President and CEO, International Rescue Committee).
Today, millions of people are living in tough-to-reach places. From refugee camps and conflict-affected areas to the world’s most remote regions, they face extreme poverty, the effects of war, environmental threats, and underdevelopment. Members of the Clinton Global Initiative have made a commitment to ensure that those living in the toughest places have the opportunities and services they need to thrive.
3:15 PM. In the New York West room, the breakout session “COP21: The Time for Climate Action is Now”. Leaders from diverse sectors discussed ways to build global partnerships to combat climate change and meet the historic COP21 agreement’s goals.
3:45 PM. In the room Liberty 3, small discussion :”Developing People’s Skills, Character and Sense of Community.”
This was one of my favorite sessions, which explored how the arts, sports, project-based learning, and social-emotional development, offer value to both young individuals and their communities. Shawn Askinosie, Founder and CEO, Askinosie Chocolate ; Esteban Moctezuma Barragán, Executive President, Fundación Azteca ; Earl Lewis, President, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation engaged with the rest of the global leaders to determine how learning outside of the classroom can be leveraged as a complement to formal education systems.
Communities thrive when their citizens are engaged, lifelong learners. However, it is important for young people to develop social-emotional skills and learn through experience in order to become well-rounded people. In-classroom experiences, such as play-based learning, as well as diverse pursuits outside of the classroom—like participation in youth orchestras or community gardening—provide young people with opportunities to develop critical life skills, inspire positive self-identity, and build meaningful relationships with others.
On a community level, project-based learning and social-emotional development promote improved academic outcomes, support constructive behaviors such as civic engagement, facilitate the exchange of ideas and cultures, and inspire the resiliency of communities—among other important benefits.
At the end of the session I talked to Esteban Montezuma Barragan about the impressive work Foundation Azteca is doing, especially around involving children in classical music. Not only is Esteban Montezuma Barragan one of the world’s most prominent philanthropists but he was also one of the most important politicians in Mexico, who early in January 1995, has sponsored peace talks in Chiapas with the EZLN insurgents.
7:00 PM. Clinton Global Citizen Awards. At the end of the packed day, the celebration of global citizens takes the demeanor of the Oscars party. Open BAR, all in the color purple with a witty bartender who is sipping jokes out of his pocket while serving wine to the guests. Everyone is happy. The room is filled with positive, upbeat energy of people who are not only talking about global issues but are actually committed to finding solutions and creating a long lasting impact.
Established in 2007, the awards night embodies Bill Clinton’s call to action by honoring outstanding individuals who exemplify global citizenship through their vision and leadership. This year the honorees are: Hawa Abdi, Jon Bon Jovi, Adi Godrej and Nadia Murad-Yazidi Human Rights Activist.
This year, Sting had the honor of opening the Global Citizen Awards in front of leaders of corporations, wealthy patrons, and of introducing the Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos Calderón:” One week from today, we will sign a 290 pg. agreement without details left out to build a new country”, he said.
In the intimate setting, performances of Andrea Bocelli of Amazing Grace with children’s choir “Voices of Haiti” and Jon Bon Jovi’s unplugged live performance of the Beatles’ “Help” touched the hearts and minds of each and every person in the ballroom.
11.00 PM I end the day looking forward to the next day of this game-changing platform for social impact where for the first time, Serbian PM, Aleksandar Vucic will talk reconciliation on the Balkans twenty years after Dayton agreement.