For the second year, former President Bill Clinton is seizing an opportunity in New York. Inviting world leaders in town for the General Assembly to join business executives and private groups, the former president hopes the commitments made at this year's Clinton Global Initiative will build on the effort to resolve some of the world's most pressing issues.
The Clinton Global Initiative, or CGI, is the former president's non-partisan effort to take on the biggest challenges, in big and small ways.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton describes the organization's mission. "CGI was designed to tackle big global challenges in bite-sized pieces with the conviction that, regardless of size or scope, our problems will yield to concerted action and innovative partnerships of individuals, NGO's (non-government organizations), businesses and governments."
After Clinton launched the initiative in 2005, more than 300 commitments brought in over $2 billion. By the second day of this year's conference the amount of money had tripled last year's efforts, thanks in part to a $3 billion pledge by British tycoon Richard Branson to develop environmentally friendly fuels.
Other commitments yielded $2billion towards efforts such as promoting global health and alleviating poverty. One of those efforts is a $16 million commitment announced by first lady Laura Bush. Provided by the United States and two private foundations, the money will go towards clean drinking water in sub-Saharan Africa -- powered by children.
First lady Laura Bush explains. "Play pumps are children's merry-go-rounds attached to a water pump in a storage tank. When the wheel turns, clean drinking water is produced. Play pumps are fueled by a limitless energy source, children at play."
Some foreign leaders took the opportunity to use the CGI as a stage to address current events.
Participating in a panel discussion called "Urgent Issues and Innovative Solutions," Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf denied media reports that the Taleban is conducting operations in Afghanistan from bases in his country.
"But Taleban, under the commander and control of Mullah Omar, is in the southern provinces of Afghanistan -- in Khandahar region and below. Mullah Omar has never come into Pakistan since 1995 when he initiated this movement in Afghanistan."
Musharraf explained that helping the Muslim world escape from poverty includes helping them realize that "modernization is not westernization." He also made pointed statements about combating terrorism in the world.
"We cannot put the cart before the horse by going after Iraq or Lebanon or Afghanistan without solving the Palestinian dispute…. It lies at the core... it lies at the core of everything. It lies at the core of terrorism and extremism in Pakistan, in Afghanistan; it lies at the core of whatever is happening in Iraq and what is happening in Lebanon. So let's go to the solution of the Palestinian dispute. Other things will themselves fall in line."
The group Seeds of Peace stepped forward at the CGI with a commitment to help deal with the Palestinian issue. The group is funding a $1.2 million institute to provide advanced negotiation and mediation training to university- aged Israelis and Palestinians.