Wednesday, March 11, 2015 11.09 AM / CFI.co
As nations and economies converge, interdependencies are created between people and give rise to new challenges. To strengthen the capacity of people to deal with these and the other changing realities of the contemporary world, the Bill Clinton Foundation was created by the former US president.
The foundation, which in 2012 received more than $250m in donations, is focused on four key areas: Health security, economic empowerment, leadership development, and ethnic and religious understanding.
The foundation’s remarkable growth, and its success, may be ascribed to Mr Clinton’s exceptional ability to bring together public and corporate leaders. This former president knows how to bridge divides and find a common denominator even between people of wildly differing worldviews.
The foundation has spun off a number of ambitious projects such as the Clinton Health Access Initiative – now a separate organisation – that aims to broaden access to the treatment of diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS. The organisation has successfully managed to obtain cost-reduction commitments from major pharmaceutical companies. Thanks to the initiative, second-line drugs for the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients is now available for as little as a dollar per day in most African countries.
The Clinton Foundation’s flagship programme is the Clinton Global Initiative (GCI), launched in 2005, that offers global leaders a forum to discuss innovative solutions to problems affecting the world. The annual CGI meeting in New York coincides with the opening of the United Nations General Assembly. Since its start, the CGI has welcomed 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel laureates, and hundreds of CEOs, philanthropists, and leaders from non-governmental organisations.
The initiative has a growing number of permanent members, including presidents of both countries and corporations, who are asked to adhere to a specific action plan and propose a realistic timetable for the implementation of measurable change. In line with Mr Clinton’s unifying way of working politics, members are encouraged to share ideas and experiences. Since its inception, nine years ago, over 2,300 “Commitments to Action” have been made, affecting the lives of more than 400 million people across the world.
It is mostly because he can bring people together and inspire the pursuit of common goals that Mr Clinton has no trouble raising cash for his foundation. Notwithstanding allegations of improprieties made by diehard opponents on the far right fringes of US political life, the Clinton Foundation receives the full support, and significant chunks of cash, from donors beyond reproach such as the government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Dutch National Lottery.
After leaving the White House in 2001, Mr Clinton has not faded from public view. Though briefly considered a liability by campaign managers as his wife vied for the Democratic ticket in 2008, Mr Clinton has proven himself the elder statesman time and again. He has helped secure the release of two American journalist from North Korea and was made UN special envoy to Haiti in 2009. After that country was struck by a massive earthquake in 2010, Mr Clinton went back at the request of President Barack Obama to coordinate US relief efforts.
Showered with honorary degrees from the world’s top universities, awards, accolades, and merits of all sorts, Mr Clinton is perhaps the personification of the US president the international community would like to see return to power: A skilful politician who doesn’t divide the world into “us and them,” but who actually manages to bring people together.
He is an excellent administrator as well. Not only did Mr Clinton preside over the longest US economic boom since the end of World War II, he also did well for himself; paying off several million dollars in legal fees and earning over $100m, mostly from books deals and speaking engagements. The interesting twist is that Mr Clinton actually has something of value to say.