UN official hails partnership with private sector in achieving anti-poverty targets

19 September 2008

A senior United Nations official has lauded the involvement of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in efforts to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight anti-poverty targets world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015, noting the increasingly vital role played by the private sector in tackling today's most pressing challenges.

A senior United Nations official has lauded the involvement of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in efforts to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the eight anti-poverty targets world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015, noting the increasingly vital role played by the private sector in tackling today's most pressing challenges.

“The private sector, it is increasingly recognized, has the capacity and the power to make a difference,” Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact Office, told a news conference at UN Headquarters today.

The Compact pledges participating businesses – now numbering some 5,000 in over 100 countries – to observe principles regarding human rights, labour rights, environmental sustainability and the fight against corruption.

Mr. Kell welcomed the involvement of the CGI in the work of the UN, stating that its “innovative model of securing actionable commitments has not only been an inspiration for the CGI members but for many other voluntary initiatives.”

Ever since former United States president Bill Clinton set up the initiative in 2005, CGI members have made commitments designed to, among others, reduce poverty and hunger, work toward education for all and combat disease.

“CGI is not a typical philanthropic organization. We don't give away any money at all,” said Bob Harrison, the Initiative's chief executive officer.

“We create an opportunity for people with ideas to connect with people with resources. We distinguish ourselves from other meetings by a track record of converting ideas into solutions with tangible results,” he added.

CGI members commit themselves to action in one of four focus areas, which this year are education, climate change, global health and poverty alleviation.

“Through those four focus areas, CGI members are doing their part toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals set out by the United Nations,” Mr. Harrison said.

An example of this is the commitment made two years ago by corporate member Procter and Gamble to provide clean, safe drinking water to one million African children. Working with 17 non-governmental organizations (NGO), the company is distributing a product known as PUR, which, when put in dirty water, produces potable drinking water.

“The initiative had reached over 700,000 children so far, clearly addressing several of the MDGs,” said Mr. Harrison.

He added that, over the past three years, members have made nearly 1,000 commitments valued at upwards of $30 billion to improve more than 200 million lives in over 150 countries. Over 230 of those commitments have been completed to date.

In addition, CGI has had about 20 commitments made in partnership with the UN. At its fourth annual meeting next week, the Initiative will be announcing some 10 more.

More than 130 leading business leaders and over 50 current and former Heads of State have confirmed their attendance at the 23-26 September meeting, set to coincide with the UN high-level event on the MDGs on 25 September.

Among those slated to address the CGI gathering are Queen Rania of Jordan, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and United States presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain.

 

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Partnering with private sector crucial to achieving MDGs – Assembly President

Closer partnerships with the private sector are essential to making headway in the race to achieve the eight anti-poverty targets world leaders pledged to achieve by 2015, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the President of the United Nations General Assembly told a major private sector event in London today.