Bill Clinton wrapped up his annual philanthropic summit on Friday after generating 245 pledges to combat health, poverty, education and climate woes that he said could potentially help 100 million people.
Presidents, chief executives and aid workers mingled with celebrities including actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt and singer Shakira, during the three-day Clinton Global Initiative which the former U.S. president says rates action over talk.
"This has become what I hoped it would be — an action-forcing event with a lot of ideas, not just responding to problems but coming up with ideas about how to change the playing field for the future," Clinton said.
"We had many more commitments that obviously grew out of relationships that came out of this meeting, involving larger numbers of people working together," he said of the summit that brings together people with ideas and people with money.
Such action included when Inderjit Khurana spoke about her program that teaches about 5,000 poor children in India on train platforms, prompting a Clinton Global Initiative member to double her $200,000 budget on the spot, a summit official said.
Clinton said the pledges made this year would put 8.5 million children in school, protect or restore more than 170 million acres of forest — an area larger than Italy, Switzerland and Germany — and give 50 million people access to treatment for neglected tropical diseases.
Commitments to tackle climate change would stop 567 million metric tons of greenhouse gases — about the annual carbon dioxide output of Canada — from entering the atmosphere, said Clinton, as his wife, presidential candidate Hillary, listened.
Next year Clinton will hold a separate philanthropic summit in Hong Kong in the hope that Asians will keep issues such as poverty, health and climate change on the agenda as economies from India to China grow rapidly.
Since its launch in 2005, the Clinton Global Initiative has seen $10 billion in action pledges. But the rules of attendance, which costs $15,000, are tough: Members must make a pledge and they must keep it if they want to be invited back.
Summit organizers did not place a total dollar value on the pledges made in 2007.