Why the Clinton Global Initiative Matters

Question: Do events like the Clinton Global Initiative have any real effect?

Matthew Bishop: I think it is very easy to be cynical about an event like the Clinton Global Initiative because of all of the celebrities and the general pizzazz that Bill Clinton brings to it all. But underlying it all, I think they are making a huge difference. What’s going on at the moment is a really new way of going about solving society’s biggest problems. It’s not just about government, but it is about partnerships between government, business, social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, charities, and those partnerships need places to come together. And what Bill Clinton has actually turned out to be very good at is using all of his access. I mean, everyone wants to meet him and so forth to actually bring people together and he has a very serious team of people around him who are very good at broker deals between all of these different entities. So, that actually what you’re starting to get is a really serious effort to solve some huge problems. And I think that without those big events like shining the spotlight on everything, you wouldn’t get the results that we are going to get over the next few years.

Response: Asia seemed to be left out of the event.

Matthew Bishop: Actually the Clinton Global Initiative held an event in Hong Kong last September which had a lot of Asians very enthusiastic about this notion of philanthrocapitalism and working together to solve problems. And I moderated a plenary session yesterday on innovation with Jack Marr, who is the entrepreneur behind Alibaba, which is the Chinese eBay. And he was saying; you know, he was trying to create a whole entrepreneurial culture in China and he’s going to create 100 million jobs in the next ten years. I mean it’s got to be an incredibility ambitions statement. And I think there is an enthusiasm for the ideas that we’ve seen come out of America and the rich world about partnership in new ways taking off in Asia. And another interview I did recently was with Jet Li, the Chinese film star who has started a foundation called The One Foundation, in China. He was nearly killed in the Tsunami and had to be rescued and so forth, and decided to devote his life to encouraging a culture of giving as one of the key values of society. And he now has over a million Chinese giving via the Internet and via mobile phones and it’s beginning to have a real impact. So, I think this isn’t just an American thing; it’s actually a global phenomena.

Recorded on:  September 24, 2009

Do highly publicized, star-studded events like the Clinton Global Initiative Summit make a real positive impact on the world? Matthew Bishop, co-author of Philanthrocapitalism, thinks so; he tells Big Think why.

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