CGI: Looking Back Through the Years

Photo taken by Shay Spaniola, Kenya, 2007

Photo taken by Shay Spaniola, Kenya, 2007

Every September for the last twelve years, members of the Clinton Global community have convened to address the issues of our time and to turn their ideas into action. Hailing from the worlds of philanthropy, business, government and beyond, they have worked together to exchange ideas, develop solutions and share progress. They have encouraged each other to do better. 
The CGI community is made up of individuals from different sectors, different countries, different points of view, all united in their purpose to help those on the frontlines of both global and local challenges. CGI has encouraged cross-cultural, cross-regional, cross-sector collaboration in  unprecedented ways. It has built bonds of partnership that otherwise would not have existed.

CGI’s outcomes are a powerful testament to its success. More than 3,500 new commitments to action have been made to address issues ranging from healthcare, education, equality, climate change, disaster relief and recovery and resilience. The lives of 430 million people in 180 countries have been positively impacted. And while we can get lost in the numbers, in my work with my nonprofit, Students of the World, I have seen firsthand the power of CGI commitments in over 20 different countries.

From Haiti to New Orleans, West Bank to Uganda to Kosovo, hundreds of young Students of the World creatives have had the opportunity to travel around the globe to document stories of progress and hope by creating short films and photography series, harnessing the power of media to amplify reach and impact. We have seen change happen before our eyes, through the lens of our cameras: Children rescued from the ravages of war; girls going to school for the first time; people getting access to clean drinking water; diseases eradicated; climate change; communities rebuilding after earthquakes or floods, among others.

And as I reflect back on these experiences, these stories, these heroes of our time, I know that I have been truly blessed. Because I have witnessed the best that humanity has to offer - both here in our own country and in communities halfway around the world. This exposure has inspired me - and encouraged me - to know that a better world is not only possible, but it is happening.

It has been said that if the group is an art form of the future, then convening groups is an artistry we must cultivate to fully harvest the promise of the future. And the Clinton Global Initiative has done just that -- mastered the artistry of convening -- for good, for the betterment of us all: through active collaboration, the exchange of ideas, difficult conversations, commitment to one another and concrete steps to take action. And, as recent events have shown us, this is still needed now just as it was before.

So while today kicks off the last annual CGI meeting, our community will continue to support and encourage one another. We will find new ways to continue to collaborate and innovate. And we do this because we can. And because we must. 

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