Public-private collaboration needed to solve global woes

Former US president Bill Clinton leads a whoÆs who of politicians and business owners in suggesting solutions to issues such as climate change and the financial crisis.
A power-packed roundtable of Asian leaders deliberated innovative ways for governments and the private sector to cooperate to create sustainable solutions to global problems at the opening of the Clinton Global InitiativeÆs (CGI) inaugural Asia meeting in Hong Kong yesterday. In the spotlight were the issues of climate change and the current economic crisis.

Former US president Bill Clinton led the discussion which included China's foreign minister Yang Jiechi, president of the Philippines Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Japan House of Councillors member Yoriko Kawaguchi, Li & Fung Group chairman Victor Fung, and the vicechairman of IndiaÆs Sun Group, Uday Nabha Khemka. The group agreed that much of the work towards sustainable and equitable growth must be implemented by the private sector, but also noted that governments have a critical role in ôsaying yesö to the changes that need to be made.

On the topic of the global economic crisis, Arroyo spoke of the PhilippinesÆ relative strength as well as the still looming spectre of higher consumer prices.

ô[We] have fared relatively well, but this is small comfort to the regular Filipino who feels higher prices for the food and fuel they have to buy,ö says Arroyo.

The CGI centres on participants making commitments to take action to address global problems. Commitments come from governments, corporations and individuals who agree to generate financial, social or environmental value through a myriad of approaches including, but not limited to, financial support, education and capacity building.

Standard Chartered made CGI AsiaÆs first commitment to the Vital Voices Global Partnership. The bank will contribute $3 million over the next three years to womenÆs involvement in economic development and peace processes.

The bankÆs contribution will go directly to training activities aimed at helping women gain economic independence. The commitment includes seed money for small- and medium-size enterprises.

Central to the roundtable discussion was global climate change and the forthcoming meeting in Denmark to update the Kyoto Protocol. According to Clinton, there is no better region in the world for ôfiguring out howö to create pro-private sector solutions in the forthcoming climate change talks.

Both ChinaÆs Yang and IndiaÆs Khemka said that their respective countries are ready to make a greater commitment to the climate crisis. Yang commented on ChinaÆs drive to improve national energy efficiency by 20% by 2010, while Khemka emphasised how India is ready to make the switch towards greater sustainability. He added, however, that the country needs significant amounts of capital to retool.
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