At the Clinton Global Initiative, power in the idea of “second movers”

"You can kind of see Bill and Chelsea in my cell phone shots." c. the authorThe Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Mid-year Meeting last week was a family affair.

CGI is an organization that brings stakeholders from government, business, and the non-profit worlds together for the common good.  

President Clinton, CGI founder and omnipresent at its meetings, was joined by former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton and CGI board member Chelsea Clinton, both of whom stressed the need for CGI members to focus less on creating new ideas for how to solve global challenges and more on achieving actual impacts on the ground, whether the solution is new or not. 

In her opening remarks, Chelsea Clinton called this the power of “second-movers.”

“It can feel somewhat claustrophobic, this need we all have to be first,” she said. “But the fact is, almost everything has been solved already.”

She stressed the need for scaling and replicating positive results, and for “doubling down” on high quality ideas.  Partnerships, she said, are the key to doing exactly that. 

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) almost always works with partners – government agencies like the Kenya Wildlife Service or the China State Forestry Administration, intergovernmental organizations like INTERPOL or the UN Development Programme, or corporate collaborators like the Petfinder Foundation or the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, just to name a few – to achieve real and lasting impact for animals. 

IFAW joined CGI because the welfare of animals and the humans that they live with are inextricably linked.  In many cases, in fact, the only way to improve the welfare of animals is to engage in efforts to lift people out of poverty and improve their everyday lives.  More often than not, what’s missing isn’t the idea, but the mobilization of resources and actions to make that idea a reality. 

Partnering with the KWS, the African Wildlife Foundation, and the local community in Amboseli National Park to bring basic health services, education, and a sustained, reliable supply of fresh water to the Maasai people, for example, will help reduce their reliance on Park water and other resources, decrease incidents of human-elephant conflict, and build local support for elephant-friendly development.  As a result, elephants will be saved and their habitat preserved in the long term. 

Clinics, schools, and water systems are not new ideas, but having those things in this traditionally poor and underserved part of the world could be nothing less than a revelation. 

IFAW is all for innovation, but innovation without action can sometimes further the divide between program design and program impact – real and tangible results for animals.  IFAW’s new partnership with CGI and its other members will only help us achieve more for the animals that need our help the most. 

--PT

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