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The Clinton Global Initiative - "Davos with a Soul"

Updated on May 22, 2016

Billed as “Davos with a Soul,” the Clinton Global Initiative is how President Clinton has utilized his high flying and powerful network for philanthropic purposes. Their mission specifically is for people to, as CGI puts it, not only talk about problems but do something about it too.

At its heart, CGI arranges for meetings where members gather to discuss ideas and pledge commitments. “Commitments to Action” made at CGI will then be measured and tallied by CGI to make sure these commitments are accomplished. According to CGI, 3200 commitments have been made in the ten years that CGI has been operating touching the lives of millions of people around the world.

CGI membership is a $20,000 donation to the Clinton Foundation, renewable every year for the same donation amount, but is invitation only, though there is a membership application form if a person or an organization wants to petition to be a member. For organizations who cannot afford the membership donation, complimentary memberships are given out and credentials are given to honored guests and speakers. CGI members get to be invited to the Annual Meeting held in New York every year, and attendees to the Annual Meeting over the years includes major corporations, NGOs, philanthropists, heads of state like President Obama, governments, royalty, and celebrities. Actor Brad Pitt actually attended the first CGI Annual Meeting back in 2005!

Meetings with Impact

CGI holds meetings on select dates throughout the year. CGI America, CGI Latin America, and CGI Middle East and Africa are scheduled meetings and are devoted to discussing the problems and solutions for that area of the world. My favorite is CGI America where solutions and commitments are made to help out the United States. No doubt, however, the big meeting is the CGI Annual Meeting, held in New York every year in September to coincide with the beginning of the UN General Assembly. Such is the draw of the CGI Annual Meeting that it can shut down traffic because of visiting dignitaries just as much as the UN General Assembly.

CGI University

CGI University is like CGI but for students and colleges. In contrast to CGI, membership is free, but members have to be accepted by CGI U beforehand. Here, they discuss issues related to young people and make commitments and take action to solve a specific problem. The 2015 CGI U meeting was held in the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL.


As stated previously, CGI members have made 3200 commitments so far. Commitments can be read on the Clinton Global Initiative website where anyone can read about the commitment and the change that occurred. One major commitment that garnered media attention was the Commitment to Save the African Elephant mostly because it was an initiative pushed by Secretary Clinton. Called the Partnership to Save the African Elephant, sixteen wildlife organizations including the World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, and the Wildlife Conservation Society teamed up to find ways to prevent the African elephant from going extinct. Poachers are increasingly decimating the African Elephant population for their ivory. This partnership settled on an action plan called: Stop the Killing, Stop the Trafficking, and Stop the Demand. This Commitment to Action garnered $80 million dollars for use in such endeavors as creating sanctuary areas, hiring local guards, buying technology to aid in anti-trafficking efforts, and convincing governments to curb ivory demand for their countries.

The Rockefeller Foundation announced its Commitment to Action called 100 Resilient Cities. This Commitment has partners in Palantir Technologies so that data and technology can be used help cities make better decisions, Architecture for Humanity and the American Institute of Architects will help train architects to beautify cities, and the World Bank will offer loans for critical urban projects for 100RC Cities. For instance, the city of New Orleans, recovering from 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, will start things off with the 100RC pilot program, and they’ll get a resilience dashboard to help city leaders and citizens be better informed for matters such as risk assessments and capital improvement planning.

There are many other commitments listed on the website. One commitment vowed to build 100 village clinics in China. Another promised to help provide hearing devices for the hard of hearing. Celebrities have even made commitments. The Hollywood Climate Action Initiative for Communities promised to use their star power to increase awareness of climate change, and the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) worked to convince Hollywood to become more carbon neutral.

Turning Ideas into Action

President Clinton has a network filled with the most powerful people in many fields, endeavors, and capitals. With the Clinton Global Initiative, he used this network to convince people, with the ability and resources to make big change happen, to do something good for the world. In the next hub of this series, find out about the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, AR!


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