Environmental Pledges Flow from First Clinton Global Initiative Asia

HONG KONG, China, December 3, 2008 (ENS) – Commitments to clean Hong Kong’s beaches, produce carbon-free energy from rice residues, and raise awareness of climate change in India are among the results of the first Clinton Global Initiative meeting in Asia.

Today, at the conclusion of the two-day meeting in Hong Kong, former President Bill Clinton said, “I am truly impressed by our Clinton Global Initiative members and the new commitments announced this week that will bring real, measurable change to millions of lives in Asia and across the world.”

“CGI Asia members have made commitments worth an estimated total value of US$185 million, to positively impact more than 10 million lives,” Clinton said.

Former President Bill Clinton
(Photo courtesy CGI)

Clinton welcomed current and former heads of state and prominent regional business and non-profit leaders who pledged to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges – climate change, food and water security, and deforestation.

“Asia has a strong history of social responsibility and we have a unique opportunity to work together in innovative and effective ways to achieve positive change during a time of great uncertainty for the world,” said Clinton, whose wife, Senator Hillary Clinton has just been nominated to serve as Secretary of State in the incoming administration President-elect Barack Obama.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the CGI Asia meeting’s opening plenary session on Tuesday with a video message, saying, “In recent decades, Asia has achieved remarkable gains in economic growth and development. This progress has offered valuable lessons to the rest of the world.”

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd also addressed the participants via video. “We need new ideas to confront and solve the myriad of challenges which lie ahead of us this century,” said the prime minister. “I look forward to working with all those gathered at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting to move our world forward towards a new chapter in human history.”

Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said her visit to Hong Kong to take part in the Clinton Global Initiative was “short but fruitful.” Arroyo told participants that she remains “laser-focused” in working to further strengthen the economy so the country could stay the course.

The Commitments to Action, made by members to affect positive change include the CGI’s three areas of focus – education, energy and climate change, and public health.

The World Food Programme and partners made a far-reaching mega-commitment’ includes six different CGI commitments involving eight countries and is valued at US$20 million dollars. It will focus on feeding more people with better food, targeting vulnerable groups in emergency and post-disaster situations and long-term food security.

Fun in the sun at one of Hong Kong’s 40
beaches (Photo by Pepa Amenabar)

Environmental commitments include a pledge from Graeme Reading, chair of the Café Deco Group, to spend US$125,000 over two years to establish a Hong Kong beach authority, which will coordinate both public and private efforts to clean up Hong Kong’s 40 beaches.

Dr. Robert S. Zeigler, director general of the International Rice Research Institute, commits US$2.2 million over four years to develop a new technology that will produce carbon-dioxide free energy from rice residues such as straw and husks, helping create additional income for farmers and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in India and Cambodia.

The BAIF Development Research Foundation and partners, is committing US$30,700 over two years to integrate an educational program on climate change in 10,000 rural schools in Northern India and 5,000 in Maharashtra state.

The Noble Group, one of the world’s largest supply-chain managers whose operations involve many of the Earth’s natural resources and raw materials, announced a commitment to be carbon neutral by 2008. In addition to going carbon neutral, the Noble Group will also generate an awareness-raising campaign targeting its 10,000 staff members and more than 4,000 business partners. This commitment is valued at US$10 million over three years.

Habitat for Humanity China is committing US$12.5 million over 18 months to rehabilitate three communities that were affected by the earthquakes that struck China’s Sichuan province in May by constructing 924 houses, three nursery schools, health clinics, libraries, and outdoor exercise areas.

Hang Seng Bank, along with its partners, is committing US$150,000 over one year to build 300 biogas toilets for 1,700 people in Yunnan, China that will store methane gas produced by humans and poultry to provide local communities with alternative forms of energy for daily use, in an effort to reduce carbon emissions.

The nonprofit group International Center for Networking, Ecology, Education and Re-Integration, along with its partners, is committing US$1 million over two years to raise awareness of the dangers posed by climate change in India and Mozambique. The group intends to engage 60,000 students in renewable energy discussions in 600 schools to demonstrate that a positive change in individual and community behavior can result in energy efficiency and resource conservation.

Mother and child in a Thar Desert village,
Rajasthan, India (Photo by Mirjam Letsch)

The Jal Bhagirathi Foundation, with its partners, is committing US$7.6 million over six years to implement projects in 400 villages in the Thar Desert of India that will improve underserved populations’ access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and alternative sustainable livelihood opportunities; in an effort to reduce their vulnerability to climate change.

Mlup Baitong and partners is committing US$110,000 over three years to reduce the current degradation of natural resources in Cambodia by coordinating and implementing a community based forestry management project in Kampong Thom province.

51-Sim.org and its partners announced a commits US$1 million over two years to host China’s first ever “Green Car Show” which will be carbon-neutral, and to hold a climate change competition to encourage environmentally-friendly behavior.

Over the course of three years, Practical Action commits US$27 million to help disadvantaged, rural communities develop their capacity to use innovative agricultural techniques that will reduce their vulnerability to disasters and risks associated with climate change, aspiring to improve the lives of 700,000 people.

Aid Foundation, Inc. commits US$260,000 over two years to provide access to clean drinking water for disadvantaged, rural communities by developing their capacity to manufacture and install AIDFI’s hydraulic ram pump in Colombia, Indonesia, Madagascar, and the Philippines, in an effort to improve sanitation and agricultural activities for 3,600 people.

Mr. Wee Lin is committing US$99,000 over nine years to enhance access to environmentally-friendly and affordable food for underserved and poor communities in Singapore by hosting a series of events and engaging stakeholders in dialogue.

The World Toilet Organization, along with its partners, is committing US$1.2 million to expand access for more than 750 million people in Cambodia and India to basic sanitation by improving the current market structure of the sanitation sector. The WTO will work to better match supply of sanitation products with demand and provide training programs for business leaders who wish to tap into the US$1 trillion global sanitation marketplace.

The WWF is committing US$200,000 over three and a half years to provide access to finance, education, and training to excluded and marginalized women and children living in the slums and rural villages of Southern India, and identify potential NGOs who could replicate this program in Northern India.

The Shri Ram School, Shri Ram Foundation, and Save the Children Bal Raksha Bharat commit US$300,000 over two years to launch a comprehensive disaster risk mitigation program to train teachers, children and families to better prepare for and address natural disasters.

GeoHazards International, India’s National Disaster Management Authority, GeoHazards Society, ProVention Consortium, EHDD Architecture, University of New Mexico, Rutherford & Chekene Structural Engineering, Stanford University Chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World, and the National Centre for Peoples’ Action in Disaster Preparedness commit US$5 million over five years to improve the earthquake resistance and energy efficiency of schools and health clinics in Northern India and other Asian countries.

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