NEW YORK, New York, September 25, 2012 (ENS) – Designing Our Environments, a theme of this year’s Clinton Global Initiative, has brought millions of dollars in investment in ecosystems, urban centers, tree planting, food production, water protection, social and educational environments this week, and the projects keep rolling in.

Held each year in September to coincide with the presence in New York of heads of state attending opening of the UN General Assembly, the CGI was established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton to help solve the world’s most pressing challenges.

President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney each spoke separately at the CGI today, but neither addressed environmental issues.  President Obama pledged an offensive against human slavery in all its forms, while Romney explained how he would substitute trade for U.S. foreign aid to other countries if he is elected.

CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date CGI members have made more than 2,100 commitments, which are already improving the lives of nearly 400 million people in 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $69.2 billion.

Bill Clinton

President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, September 25, 2012 (Image courtesy CGI)

The theme of the day for Tuesday, Designing Our Environments, brought commitments from improving severe weather warnings in Haiti, to disinfecting hospitals with new technology, to increasing farmer productivity with mobile phones, to recycling of tons of aluminum, providing solar power and improving water quality in the United States.

“I am inspired by the dedication and generosity of our CGI members whose commitments touch the lives of millions of people around the world,” said President Clinton.

“This year’s commitments represent not only a deep respect for humanity but also inspire others to transform their ideas and innovation into substantive global action,” Clinton said. “I extend my sincerest thanks to all of the leaders from the political, business, and civil sectors for their willingness to choose to create a more prosperous, sustainable, and inclusive world for all people.”

Some of the new environmental commitments announced Tuesday will take place in the United States. They include:

Action to Accelerate Recycling Commitment to Increase U.S. Recycling Rates
Commitment by: Alcoa and Alcoa Foundation and Keep America Beautiful
This set of national initiatives to increase U.S. recycling rates of aluminum drinks and pet food cans, plastic, glass and paper includes $2 million in funding from Alcoa and Alcoa Foundation. It is expected to recycle 90 tons of waste resulting in the avoidance of more than 850 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The initiatives include an app called “Net Impact – Small Steps, Big Changes” that will reach 50 college campuses as 500,000 students participate in activities focused on recycling. DoSomething.org, the largest youth-led aluminum recycling drive in the United States will activate at least 40,000 youth at more than 4,000 schools to recycle 30 tons of aluminum. A Facebook app called “Pass the Can” commits the Alcoa Foundation to donate up to $75,000 to Keep America Beautiful, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Planet Ark to fund recycling programs around the world.

Community-Based Solar Power
Commitment by: Solairedirect
Solairedirect committed to develop at least 10 megawatts of distributed solar photovoltaic projects in the southwestern United States over the next three years. Through this commitment, Solairedirect will demonstrate the financial and operational viability of subsidy free, community-based, for-profit solar power generation in the United States.

Where We Learn Matters: Transforming Schools via Green Apple
Commitment by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing and U.S. Green Building Council
The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, in partnership with United Technology Corporation, committed to launch the Green Apple Initiative. This public awareness campaign aims to inform parents, teachers, students, and communities in the United States and around the world that physical spaces matter when it comes to learning and that student experiences are enhanced when educated in healthy, safe, and efficient places. The Center also will launch an annual Green Apple Day of Service, where 2,500 volunteer-driven school improvement projects will take place across the world.

United Water ‘Solution’: Investing in America’s Water
Commitment by: United Water
United Water committed to partner with institutional investors to form entities that will provide Nassau County, New York and the City of Bayonne, New Jersey with private capital to pay down accumulated debt and initiate capital investment in their municipal water systems. Through this five-year commitment, United Water will take over operations and repairs of these water systems in exchange for resident-paid water usage fees. The municipalities, while clearing millions of dollars of debt, will maintain ownership and regulatory oversight of these systems. The project aims to promote job creation, create a cleaner environment, and ensure that ownership and stewardship of the water system never leaves public hands.

Guiding Stars: Environmental Performance Innovation
Commitment by: Kim Samuel-Johnson
Kimberly Samuel-Johnson, co-creator of the Environmental Performance Index, committed to improve environmental performance measurement as a basis of tools for development of pollution abatement policies worldwide. In this $1 million, three-year project, Samuel-Johnson will partner with the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy, the Center for International Earth Sciences Information Network at Columbia University and the Asian Institute for Energy and Environmental Sustainability to engage expert collaborators from around the world to determine the data governments should measure, the proper measurement methodology, how to improve quality of measurement where it exists, and how to make sure that quality data exists everywhere and for every important environmental indicator.

Leadership Training in Sustainability Curriculum
Commitment by: Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation
The Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation committed to provide training for K-12 teachers to integrate sustainability as a context for enhancing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) teaching and learning. In partnership with the New York City Department of Education, MS88 School, Brooklyn, the Green Schools Alliance, Manhattanville College and Shelburne Farms the three year, $2.5 million project aims to increase interest, preparedness, and diverse representation of students, particularly girls, in STEM disciplines, improve environmental literacy, attitude and behaviors and make connections between the new Common Core Learning Standards and the content and principles of Education for Sustainability.

Many of this year’s commitments will support improvements elsewhere around the world. They include:

Anam New City: An African Model For Sustainable Development
Commitment by: Dr. Aloy & Gesare Chife Foundation
The foundation committed to scale up its model of sustainable development by making affordable green housing, off-grid infrastructure, health services, and skills training accessible to 1,000 Nigerians in Anambra State over four years. The foundation will also develop key pilot projects, including an earth brick factory, an ecological fish farm, a school, a hospital, and a community bank, as well as educational and employment programs, which will target 25 percent female enrollment.

Minutes Matter: Warning Haitians to Extreme Weather
Commitment by: Earth Networks
Earth Networks committed to improve monitoring and warning of severe weather in Haiti. In the first phase, Earth Networks will deploy infrastructure and hardware, including Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts, the most advanced hurricane tracking and monitoring tool, and PulseRad, a groundbreaking alternative to expensive Doppler radar. The organization will work with partners to put systems in place to distibute information via SMS and other outlets, enabling the Haitian people to be better prepared for extreme weather and improve their resilience against future natural disasters.

Poverty Alleviation In Haiti: An Aquaculture Business Model
Commitment by: Caribbean Harvest
The Caribbean Harvest Foundation committed $2.1 million in a three-year project to expand its model of intensive growth cage farming to create jobs, improve nutrition, and reduce poverty to three new areas in Haiti. CHF will set up 600 small farmers around Lake Azuei, Lake Peligre, and Lake Miragoane with training and sustainable employment opportunities through their tested fish culture model. In addition, CHF is building a processing plant, which will employ 66 women, to process, package, and store the fish produced.

Alleviating Poverty By Investing In Communities In Haiti
Commitment by: Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International committed to expand post-earthquake reconstruction efforts and stimulate economic growth over two years in the devastated Simon Pele area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. To accomplish urban renewal and alleviate poverty for the more than 30,000 residents of Simon Pele and surrounding neighborhoods, this $16.9 million, three-year initiative will undertake seismic-resistant repairs to homes, construction of new homes, infrastructure improvements, award of contracts to local businesses and community organizations, and expansion of local small businesses through training in construction, business development, and disaster risk reduction.

Engage Women, Drive Change
Commitment by: New Course
New Course committed to training and supporting women community leaders and building the foundation for a permanent program to strengthen the capacity of rural women to manage natural resources within the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace & Environmental Studies in the Rift Valley in Uganda and Kenya. This $827,000, three year program, in partnership with the Green Belt Movement and the MacArthur Foundation, includes a needs-assessment of rural women and organizations, collection and dissemination of best practices and lessons learned in tree planting, watershed management, health, clean renewable energy technologies, microenterprise and linkages to markets.

Scaling the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge 2013
Commitment by: United Postcode Lotteries
In 2012, United Postcode Lotteries committed to scale up their green business competition, the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, in order to spur innovation in the area of sustainability. By increasing the number of entries and the quality and countries of origin, United Postcode Lotteries aims to speed the development of new, innovative green businesses around the globe to tackle the challenges of climate change.

Runa: Livelihoods for Indigenous Amazonian Farmers
Commitment by: Runa LLC
Runa committed $8 million over two years to creating livelihoods for over 2,000 indigenous farmers in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Runa works with indigenous people to create new markets for their products, such as guayusa tea, that are organically grown in traditional forest gardens that conserve the rainforest, create profitable livelihoods, and promote the ancient wisdom of native cultures.
 
Swiss Newater: Sanitation Using Electrolyzed Water
Commitment by: SymbioSwiss
SymbioSwiss committed to providing clean water to three hospitals in developing countries. Using a new technology called Newater, water is electrolyzed and can be used for disinfecting hospitals, surgical areas, hospital rooms, equipment and wounds. All forms of micro-organisms are eliminated, including germs, bacteria, viruses, algae and mold spoors. The water electrolysis machines will be located in Morocco, Benin and Columbia.

Agri-Fin Mobile: Enhancing Small-holder Income Via Mobile
Commitment by: Mercy Corps
Mercy Corps and its funding partner, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, committed to implement Agri-Fin Mobile, offering bundled mobile agricultural and financial services to small-holder farmers. Agri-Fin Mobile, launching in Indonesia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, aims to enhance productivity and incomes of small-holder farmers, addressing food insecurity and poverty. Agri-Fin Mobile will facilitate partnerships between mobile network operators, financial institutions, and agricultural advisory service providers to offer much-needed mobile services at affordable rates. Potential bundled services will include farm and crop management tools, financing, micro-insurance, and access to markets for small-holder products.

Post Harvest Project: Reducing Waste for Food Security
Commitment by: NanoICE, Inc.
Craig Rominger of NanoIce committed to launch the Post Harvest Project by operationalizing a pilot project aimed at reducing waste, improving nutrition, and supporting livelihoods in Ghana’s fisheries. By installing new cold chain systems using NanoICE Molecular Ice Technology and building a manufacturing plant at the Port of Tema with a transportation station at Lake Volta to make organic fertilizer from fish waste, PHP and its partners will reduce fish waste, waterways and harbor pollution, and methane gas emissions; increase protein consumption, food product shelf life, and product margins; and provide new employment/business opportunities, while decreasing malnutrition.

Private Enterprises ENSURING Biodiversity Conservation
Commitment by: Man And Nature
Man & Nature committed to scaling their biodiversity conservation through social development efforts by expanding their successful program in Madagascar to 10 additional countries in Latin America, South East Asia and Africa. Man & Nature works with local communities, primarily women, and multinational cosmetic and fragrance companies to develop sustainable supply chains based on the harvesting of plant extracts and botanical harvesting.
 
A Budding Interest: Organic Farming
Commitment by: The PRASAD Project
The PRASAD Project committed to addressing regional issues of environmental degradation, economic disempowerment, illiteracy, and food insecurity in the Tansa Valley of India by supporting local farmers and their families address these issues through adoption of organic farming techniques. They will aid in the implementation of an integrated watershed program for better, more sustainable water resource use and will implement soil conservation and tree planting programs. The PRASAD Project will train community residents in literacy, vocational, environmental education, social health awareness, and sanitation and solid waste management programs.

Solar Distribution Innovation Facility
Commitment by: ToughStuff International
ToughStuff committed to launching the Solar Distribution Innovation Facility to expand access to the benefits of solar energy for low-income consumers in East Africa. The SDIF will provide technical assistance and access to finance to more than 600,000 individuals over the next six years. Initially, the SDIF will deploy $1 million via a revolving working capital fund that will increase affordability of ToughStuff solar products for wholesalers, small and medium enterprise distributors, and end consumers while seeking additional investors and donors to grow the fund.

Ten Water: A New Way of Doing Business on Earth
Commitment by: The Soneva SLOW-LIFE Trust
The Soneva SLOW-LIFE Trust committed to lead the development of Ten Water, an initiative that seeks to leverage the power of the hospitality and tourism industry to address the global water crisis. Through this $1 million commitment, hotels, restaurants, and spas will replace commercially bottled water with filtered water, sell it, and contribute 10 percent of the proceeds to The Clean Water Fund, which will donate 100 percent of funds raised to benefit clean and safe water projects around the world. Ten Water is an initiative developed to align with the UN Millennium Development Goal that seeks to provide safe and clean drinking water to half of the 780 million people in need.

The Power of 1 Trillion: Valuing Natural Capital
Commitment by: The Corporate Eco Forum
The Corporate Eco Forum, in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, committed to mobilize a critical mass of global companies – representing $1 trillion in revenues – to launch and publicly communicate new initiatives that integrate the true economic value of Earth’s “natural capital” into business decision-making. CEF will leverage its corporate community, organizational partners and networks in Australia, India, Mexico and the United States to build on an initial set of 24 company commitments announced at the Rio+20 Earth Summit.

A Healthier Future: Finding Alternatives to Palm Oil
Commitment by: A.T. Kearney
A.T. Kearney, the global consulting firm, committed to direct $2 million of in-kind services to address the environmental, health and economic issues of palm oil by finding sustainable alternatives for consumer goods companies and other large palm oil users. A.T. Kearney will develop a business case for the use of palm oil alternatives with the aim of minimizing negative financial and environmental impacts on current palm oil producers and regions in Malaysia, India, China and Indonesia. The global demand for and use of palm oil is driving rainforest deforestation by creating plantations, impacting biodiversity and climate change in the region. Endangered species such as the orangutan and tiger are further threatened as demand for palm oil by consumer packaged goods companies grows.

The 2012 CGI Annual Meeting is sponsored by Abraaj Capital, American Federation of Teachers, Ambassador Gianna Angelopoulos, APCO Worldwide, Barclays, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cisco, CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank, Delos Living, Deutsche Bank, Diageo PLC, The Dow Chemical Company, Duke Energy Corporation, ExxonMobil, The Ford Foundation, Varkey GEMS Foundation, The Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, Hewlett Packard Company, Inter-American Development Bank, InterEnergy, Jive Software, Knoll Inc, Laureate International Universities, Microsoft Corporation, NRG Energy Inc, Procter & Gamble, The Rockefeller Foundation, Shangri-La Industries, Standard Chartered Bank, Starkey Hearing Foundation, Swiss Reinsurance Company, Tom Golisano, Toyota Motors Corporation, United Postcode Lotteries, The Victor Pinchuk Foundation, and Western Union Financial Services Inc.