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Systems Empower People

System development is a central skill needed for thriving in business, community and states - Clinton

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The power of community is the empowerment that comes from working together toward a common good. A system. Developed nations have mastered system-building...but it is a skill that every generation, every nation, every community must re-learn and re-implement.

You take for granted that you [will be comfortable in your work]...

Most of those conditions are absolutely unavailable to a vast number of people in the world, where half of its people live on less than two dollars a day, and a billion on less than a dollar a day.

And largely, it is not because they are not intelligent, not because they are incapable of learning things, and certainly not because they don't work hard. It is because they do not have access to the kinds of systems we take for granted that make the generation of wealth possible, make comfortable lives possible, and make the very building blocks of a good life possible, in terms of health, education, and shelter.

So my Foundation does a lot of work to create those systems. We work in 25 countries in Africa, where we are actually trying to build the health systems from the ground up. We are working in two countries trying to build health, education, and economic systems simultaneously, using some of the lessons we learned in our HIV/AIDS Initiative in Rwanda. In Malawi, we have doubled, and sometimes tripled, farmers' income by doing what we did with AIDS drugs. We lowered the cost of seeds, we lowered the cost of fertilizer, we improved the distribution from farm to market, and we have had remarkable success. Simultaneously, we have built health care systems from the ground up.

This can be done all over the world. In the end, I am convinced it is one of the most important things a non-governmental system can do to empower people at the local level to create their own systems so that there is a real connection between the effort they exert and the results they achieve.

In his speech, Clinton went on to talk about sustainability and our global challenge:

Finally, let me just say a word about the sustainability issue. I believe that global warming is a real and persistent problem. I do not believe it will be addressed unless we can prove that we can change our energy patterns and essentially move into a post-carbon future in a way that is good for the economy -- not just of the wealthy countries, not just for the United States, Europe, and Japan, but especially of the emerging countries, particularly China and India, but also Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico and all the other emerging economies. If we cannot prove that you can change the pattern of energy usage in a way that is good economics, then I don't think anything we do in America, Europe, and Japan will make any difference. I think the planet will be irrevocably damaged by mid-century, and our children and grandchildren will live a much reduced life.

So the question is: can we do this? And the answer is: nobody knows for sure, but I think so.

I devote a lot of my time now to working with cities around the world proving that there are things that you can do on energy and on water management that will make real difference and actually boost economic growth.

Our Climate Change Initiative works with 40 cities on six continents to prove that it is good economics over the long run to save the planet for our children and grandchildren. President Bill Clinton

Edited by Carolyn Allen
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