Clinton Global Initiative Organizers Expect Less Money to Be Committed This Year

Organizers of the fifth annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, taking place this week in New York City, expect less money to be pledged to tackle global problems at this year's meeting as a result of the international financial crisis, Reuters reports.

About 1,200 participants — including President Obama and other heads of state, business leaders, humanitarians, and celebrities — are attending this year's meeting, which requires its members to make a commitment to fight problems in education, energy and climate change, health, and economic empowerment. According to Clinton Global Initiative CEO Robert Harrison, the value of the commitments unveiled at this week's summit will be less than the $8 billion worth of commitments made in 2008. However, Harrison said the number of pledges of action made in 2009 is likely to exceed the 250 commitments made last year. In addition, he expects more U.S.-focused pledges of action as organizations seek to address the country's ongoing recession.

Although Harrison said he has noticed companies increasingly building CGI commitments into their budgets, the giving outlook for 2009 is considered relatively weak. Indeed, a recent Foundation Center survey found that 51 percent of corporate foundations expect their giving to fall in 2009, with three-quarters of them anticipating decreases of more than 10 percent.

Harrison said he was uncertain last year whether he would even be able to hold a 2009 summit after Lehman Brothers bank collapsed and the financial crisis spread globally during CGI's 2008 meeting. "I was genuinely nervous that companies would close their pocketbooks and that this would be a very bad time for corporate social responsibility and...grants," said Harrison. "All of us have been very pleasantly surprised at how none of that is the case."

Michelle Nichols. "Less Money to Be Pledged at Bill Clinton's Summit." Reuters 09/21/2009.