In the coming week, world leaders, business executives, celebrities, and philanthropists will all converge upon New York City as a series of loosely related summits and conferences kick into gear simultaneously. At the United Nations, a week of General Assembly meetings will draw dozens of heads of state, including, of course, President Obama, as well as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is expected to give a defiant speech on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Clinton Global Initiative, spearheaded by Bill Clinton, will bring together big thinkers from Michelle Obama to Ashton Kutcher. And Climate Week 2010 will explore solutions to Global Warming on both local and international levels. The Daily Beast outlines the most important and intriguing moments in a week of big events.
Climate Week NY˚C Paints the Town
The busy week kicks off with environmental advocates from across the world meeting up in New York City on Monday to regroup after the disappointing results of the Copenhagen Climate Conference of 2009. Aside from lobbying for Congressional action on a stalled climate-change bill, climate activists will focus on whipping up support for a number of pragmatic energy-saving strategies. The White Roof project, for example, will be painting a downtown rooftop with white paint to highlight the savings on cooling costs that can result. Also on Monday, luminaries from George Soros to Prince Albert II of Monaco will kick off the week at opening ceremonies.
Katie Couric on Empowering Girls
As part of the Clinton Global Initiative, CBS' lead anchor joins Africa’s first elected female head of state, Liberia’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent on Tuesday to discuss the economic benefits of empowering and educating girls and women. Participants will discuss ways to help women tap their capacity as a “global growth engine.” CGI reports that some countries have shown a 0.2 percent boost in GDP just by investing an extra 1 percent in female education.
Bill Clinton Weighs in on Peace Talks
As his wife plunges into risky peace talks with Israel and Palestine, Bill Clinton hosts a special sit-down with some of the region’s prominent leaders, including Shimon Peres, the president of Israel, Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority, and the crown prince of Bahrain. The panel will talk about ways in which regional leaders can aid in the negotiations. The former president’s expertise in the matter dates back many years, including his own unsuccessful attempt in 2000 to broker a peace deal between the two parties.
Healthier Women and Children
Over at the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will announce on Wednesday the launch of the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health. The goal is to save 16 million lives by 2015 by focusing on maternal and reproductive health. The program will work with both governments and NGOs, including religious organizations. Right now, 1,000 women die each day from birth and pregnancy complications, primarily from bleeding, infection, hypertension, or unsafe abortions. The number of women who died during pregnancy has dropped by 34 percent since 1990, but the rate is only dropping half as fast as necessary to reach the goal of cutting maternal mortality by 75 percent. Ban will ask for an extra $26 billion by next year to fund efforts to meet that target.
Uniting the Private Sector With Humanitarian Goals
Also at the U.N. on Wednesday, a Private Sector Forum chaired by Ban will focus on how businesses can help meet the Millennium Development Goals before the deadline in 2015. The MDGs are a wide-ranging set of eight ambitious goals, from stopping the spread of HIV to implementing universal primary education. International Chamber of Commerce Chair Rajat Gupta will attend roundtable discussions along with 100 other leaders, including CEOs of major corporations.
Working Toward a Greener Economy
One of Wednesday's premier events at CGI sees Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett joining New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and a panel of business leaders to talk about using market forces to help foster a more sustainable global economy. Panelist Iqbal Quadir, of MIT’s Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreunership, is a leader in this field, having pioneered a variety of microloan-financed ventures that bring energy production and new sources of income to poor populations in Bangladesh.
Lance Armstrong Revisits His Cancer Pledge
A team of all-star health advocates—from athlete Lance Armstrong to CNN Correspondent Sanjay Gupta—meet at CGI to explore ways to fight the global devastation of cancer, the world’s most deadly non-communicable disease. The group will focus on the progress made by Armstrong, who has been working with CGI since 2008, when he pledged $8 million to the cause. He’ll also be joined by medical revolutionary Paul Farmer and Princess Dina Mired of Jordan.
Ashton Kutcher Talks Twitter, Government
Who better to discuss the role of digital information in global politics than Ashton Kutcher, one of the most followed men on Twitter? Kutcher, who chairs a charitable foundation with wife Demi Moore, will join The Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington and others at this CGI event to look at how increased public access to information will change the ways in which the government and economy work.
Michelle Obama Returns to Politics
Cowed by the angry response to her trip to Spain this summer, the first lady has been treading carefully before entering the political arena again. She’ll finally be ready to do so at the CGI’s closing event, where she’ll even venture into the realm of foreign policy. Michelle will be joined by President Obama, who will give some closing remarks, as well as former President Clinton and philanthropy superstar Bill Gates.
Ahmadinejad Takes Center Stage
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will address the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday during a meeting on disarmament. The U.N. Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program, which Ahmadinejad has strongly defended. It’s likely the Iranian leader will use the platform to denounce American and Israeli policy, as he has done many times in the past. Obama won’t witness the speech in person, as he’ll be at a summit meeting about Sudan. Before landing in New York, Ahmadinejad made stops in Algeria and Syria, where he dismissed American efforts to help forge a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.
A Tricky Summit on Sudan
Thursday's agenda also includes President Obama attending a summit meeting on Sudan, an event that could be complicated by a new U.N. draft report on the Rwandan army’s killing of refugees in the wake of the genocide there in the 1990s. Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, angrily disputes the charges, and his foreign minister threatened to pull Rwandan forces out of peacekeeping efforts if the report is published. Kagame is attending the Sudan meeting, and is also scheduled to oversee meetings on poverty. Obama will meet with two Sudanese leaders Friday, where he will urge them to step up flagging preparations for a national vote, four months from now, that could send the country into civil war if the vote doesn’t go smoothly.
Sustainable Farming, Gourmet Style
Rounding out the week, Michelle Obama will lead some of the world's first ladies on a tasting tour of sustainable agriculture in New York on Friday, starting upstate at the Stone Barns Center, and nonprofit farm that teaches sustainable farming techniques. They will end their tour at Blue Hill in the West Village. Their meal will be made from produce harvested on the farm upstate.