NEW YORK -- Pope Francis urged all people to do their part to address the world's problems, especially climate change and the care of children, to open The Clinton Global Initiative Monday in New York in a talk with former President Bill Clinton.
“We are in need of a great and shared assumption of responsibility,” the pontiff said through a translator in a videoconference with Bill Clinton. “No challenge is too great if we meet it starting with personal conversion and the personal contribution that each of us can make to solve it... No challenge can be overcome alone — not alone, only together, sisters and brothers, children of God.”
The need to “Keep Going” is the theme of this year's Clinton Global Initiative, or CGI, as Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Clinton Foundation Vice Chair Chelsea Clinton say they will convene political, business and philanthropic leaders to build on the momentum of the conference’s return last year after a six-year hiatus.
“Giving up and giving in is a surefire guarantee that we will not make progress on the major challenges that face us,” Bill Clinton said in his opening statement. “Being distracted and majoring in the minors may be momentary good policy, but it’s a terrible way to run a railroad — or a country.”
CGI announced numerous new programs Monday that it hopes will gather new monetary commitments and engagement, including gender equality and continued support for the people of Ukraine.
Hillary Clinton announced that gender equality will now be the fourth pillar of CGI's activities, along with fighting climate change, economic inclusion and public health issues.
“It is time to close the wage gap once and for all,” Hillary Clinton said. "It is time to protect and expand access to reproductive health care, abortion and quality maternity care once and for all. It is time to ensure that every girl everywhere can get the education she deserves.
CGI plans to announce the launch of the CGI Ukraine Action Network, as well as numerous financial pledges, to support nonprofits working in the country.
The CGI Ukraine Action Network is the result of a collaboration between Hillary Clinton and Olena Zelenska, first lady of Ukraine, that began last year. The new organization, which will be formally announced Tuesday, is designed to mobilize existing CGI partners, as well as new leaders from around the world, to create and finance new commitments for Ukrainians, according to CGI. Numerous monetary commitments for Ukraine are also set to be announced Tuesday,
In 2022, CGI announced more than 140 commitments, including a $1 billion plan from Water.org, co-founded by actor Matt Damon, to help 100 million people in Africa, Asia and Latin America get lasting access to water and sanitation. This year, leaders including World Bank President Ajay Banga, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, World Central Kitchen founder Jose Andres and Ford Foundation CEO Darren Walker, will attend and make their own commitments, which are required for attendance at the conference.
However, for nonprofits working in Ukraine, the spotlight CGI is offering them, 18 months after Russia's invasion of the country, may be just as important as the monetary commitments.
The nonprofit Save Ukraine, which has opened community centers across the country to help families and especially children traumatized by the war and works to rescue Ukrainian children who have been detained in Russia, is set to receive commitments of support during CGI that it plans to use to open more centers, said Olga Yerokhina, spokeswoman for the charity.
“We know that we have no choice — we must work hard and we are ready for that,” said Yerokhina, who is based in Kyiv. “But we also have this feeling of, ‘Guys, please don’t leave us because we want to be with you.' If we are not with you, Russia is going to just erase us from the map of the world.”
Actor Liev Schreiber, co-founder of BlueCheck Ukraine, which vets small Ukrainian nonprofits doing humanitarian work in their communities so that donors can learn about these smaller organizations and feel comfortable funding them, said reminding people about what Ukrainians are still going through may be the most important part of CGI.
“The best possible outcome is keeping people aware that they are still an existential situation,” Schreiber told The Associated Press. “Democracies are designed to push back against impossible odds. And it's worked. It’s been a miracle in many respects. .. It really is a David and Goliath story. It's extraordinary. And it’s not just them. It’s us supporting them. How can we give that up now?”
Schreiber spoke on a panel Monday morning about Ukraine's short-term and long-term needs, along with Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Fran Katsoudas, Cisco's Chief People, Policy & Purpose Officer, and actor Orlando Bloom, who serves as UNICEF's Goodwill Ambassador. Bloom announced his personal commitment to raise $20 million to provide 50,000 laptops for Ukrainian schoolchildren on Monday.
“I’m super proud of the global community,” Schreiber said. “This is a test for us. Do we really care? I think so far we've had remarkable success so far in supporting them. So many countries did something extraordinary to help. That's significant. We can't forget that.”
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