Photo via CGI 2010
The Clinton Global Initiative is a gathering of heads of state, businesses, activists, celebrities, and nonprofits from around the world that's designed to foster progress through "commitments" -- binding vows to back projects dedicated to the greater good. Commitments focus on everything from health to empowering women and girls. And every year, there's a strong focus on sustainability and the environment. The often exceedingly well-funded projects announced this year range from conserving forests in Brazil by sustainably harvesting tea in them to a $5 million dollar deal to make Charlotte, NC greener to a hundred million dollar plan to start renting electric cars worldwide. Here are the best: Hertz Vows to Rent Electric Cars - The car rental company is adding Toyota and Nissan EVs to its lineup. Starting January 11th, you can rent an electric car by the hour, or by the month. $100 million dollars reportedly went into this investment.
STREAM will bring citizen reporting to the Gulf - This project, helmed by Philippe Cousteau and Casi Calloway, will educate thousands of students around the Gulf of Mexico in the fast-changing ways of modern journalism. Now that the national media is already packing up and heading home from the Gulf, it will be up to the efforts of locals to defend their homeland from further degradation and to make sure it gets the restoration it deserves. I interviewed Cousteau and Calloway about the initiative, so watch for more on this fine idea.
Wangari Maathi Institute to train young environmentalists in Africa - The environmentalist hero has embarked on a new project designed to foster environmental awareness through education. The program is a collaboration with the University of Nairobi, and will teach students sustainable environmental management -- currently a much-overlooked subject in the region.
Envision Charlotte to reduce citywide energy consumption by 20% - Duke Energy and Cisco partnered with the city of Charlotte and its top business leaders to "combine smart grid technology and energy education to provide the uptown Charlotte community with a world-class, sustainable model to measure, manage and reduce energy use by 20% in five years." That's city-wide, too -- no small feat. $5.3 million will be invested in the pilot project, which could serve as a template for such public-private partnerships down the line.
Market-Driven Restoration: Keeping the Amazon safe is good business - Guayaki Sustainable Rainforest Products has an intriguing business plan, to say the least. As part of it, they're enlisting the aid of the indigenous Marrecas people in Brazil to sustainably harvest organic yerba mate from the rainforest -- both providing a livelihood to hundreds of people and protecting 40,000 acres of rainforest in the process.
Cleaner Cookstoves: Saving lives and sparing emissions with better stoves in - The funding of the Global Alliance for Cleaner Cook Stoves was one of the week's major announcements -- Hilary Clinton personally showed up to pledge $50 million from the US towards a global, private-public partnership to bring cleaner cook stoves to the developing world. Currently, pollution from the widely used crude, biomass and wood-burning stoves, leads to millions of deaths a year, mostly women and children -- and it emits millions of tons of greenhouse gases in the process. This effort will help stymie the longstanding blight.
Bringing electric cars mainstream - The Electric Drive Transportation Association announced a plan to help bring electric cars further into the mainstream, and beyond 'early-adopter' status. Using educational materials, fostering intergovernmental and inter-industry cooperation, and creating a consumer website for EVs, the initiative may indeed help shift the paradigm away from gas-guzzling cars and towards a less oily future for transportation. I interviewed the president of EDTA as well, and will look further at this initiative as well.