Clinton, Mining Industry Launch Anti-Poverty Effort
NEW YORK -- Former President Bill Clinton Thursday announced a plan to fight poverty in the developing world in partnership with the mining industry, which often is accused of exploiting the poor and the environment.
The Clinton-Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative has initial commitments of $100 million each from two philanthropists -- Canadian financier Frank Giustra and Carlos Slim Helu, a Mexican telecommunications billionaire listed by Forbes as the world's third richest man.
The initiative will start in Colombia and hopes to launch projects in Peru, Mexico and other Latin American countries soon, before expanding to other continents.
Giustra, a major figure in the Canadian mining industry who so far has enlisted 20 mining companies and organizations in the coalition, said he would also donate half of all his future income from the natural resources business.
The mining sector has been taking steps to overcome its historic reputation for making profits at the expense of the environment and taking advantage of indigenous populations, particularly in Latin America.
"Mining happens in almost every country in the world," Clinton told a news conference in at the New York headquarters of his charitable organization, the Clinton Foundation.
"Everything that's not grown is mined in some way so you can either have good mining or bad mining," he said.
Clinton said the coalition of businesses involved in extracting natural resources in poor countries would work with nongovernmental organizations and local authorities to improve health and education and promote sustainable development.
"Ultimately our goal is to bridge the gap between the rich and poor, and give all people a shot at a better life," Clinton said, noting that despite economic growth in some Latin American countries, the gap between rich and poor had grown.
"The disparity between rich and poor is startling and unacceptable," Clinton said. He said projects will focus on education, health and economic opportunities.
"We will also focus hard on sustainable development," he said. "We believe there is money to be made for these people with a responsible environmental policy."
A statement announcing the plan said there was a long list of potential supporters in a sector where there are more than 2,000 listed mining companies around the world with a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion.
Among those already signed up as supporters are the London Stock Exchange, the Toronto Stock Exchange, the World Gold Council and a number of mining and finance companies.
A list of supporters includes South Africa's Gold Fields Ltd, the world's fourth largest gold producer, Canadian nickel-miner Teck Cominco, Denver-based Newmont Mining Corp, the world's second-largest gold company, and Canada's Consolidated AGX Resources Corp.
"Once we demonstrate that an entire industry can rally behind an initiative like this, we hope to engage other sectors and other businesses in development initiatives," Clinton said.