From: Associated Press
Published September 26, 2007 10:45 AM

Clinton Global Initiative Begins

Across town from the United Nations General Assembly session, other world leaders, celebrities and scholars gathered Wednesday for the third annual Clinton Global Initiative conference to discuss subjects of global importance.

The conference, running through Friday, is focused on finding ways to solve some of the world's most pressing problems including poverty and climate change.

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"For three days every year, the annual meeting is the epicenter for global philanthropy and is the forum for people who want to get involved and to make a difference," said Ben Yarrow, spokesman for former President Clinton.

Among those expected to attend, paying a registration fee of $15,000 each, were former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, celebrity couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, tennis star Andre Agassi and media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

Participants planned to attend a number of panel discussions and smaller working sessions about four broad topics. Three topics remain constant from year to year - poverty relief, global health, and energy and climate change - while the fourth changes. This year, the fourth topic is education.

People who attend are expected to commit time or money to efforts they will make on those issues, with more than $10 billion pledged in the first two conferences. Those who do not fulfill their pledges are not invited back; Yarrow said there were five people this year whose registration fees were not accepted.

Yarrow said accomplishments since the conference was started include:

-More than 857,000 children under 5 years old have gotten access to lifesaving medical treatment like vaccines.

-By the end of 2007, 34 million people will have been treated for neglected tropical diseases.

-More than 3.2 million people in the developing world have gained access to clean energy services.

The foundation has plans to expand, Yarrow said, with a conference planned for Asia sometime in the next year; the launch of a Web site - http://mycommitment.org/ - for the general public, and the creation of college groups affiliated with the Clinton Global Initiative.

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On the Net:

Clinton Global Initiative: http://www.clintonglobalinitiative.org/

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