Sustainable Development

Intelligence, hard work, and ability are all equally distributed around the world, but investment and opportunity are not. This is especially true in the poorest regions of Africa, where two-thirds of people rely on agriculture to support themselves and their families. Farmers are adept and capable, yet they lack access to markets and tools to lift themselves from poverty.

President Clinton, in partnership with Scottish philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter, and at the invitation of the governments, founded CHDI in Malawi and Rwanda to organize agricultural markets and encourage sustainable development. Building from the approach the Clinton Foundation used to lower the global prices of HIV/AIDS medicines, CHDI works to organize the national market for fertilizer, seeds, and other farming inputs in Malawi and Rwanda so that they are affordable for smallholder farmers. CHDI also works with the farmers to improve their farming techniques, broker purchasing agreements for their crops, reforest their lands, build health and educational infrastructure, and launch agribusinesses.

CHDI considers the farmers it works with as partners. The work in each country and each community is attuned to local needs and the realities of the people we work with. CHDI’s goal is to work ourselves out of a job: all of CHDI’s projects are designed to be turned over to local communities or organizations so they can be sustained locally and not by foreign aid.


In Rwanda, CHDI focuses its efforts in the Eastern Province, an area home to over 1.5 million poverty-stricken people. CHDI is strengthening local communities by developing agribusiness and identifying large-scale business opportunities, training and supporting local farmers, investing in the community’s infrastructure, and assisting the national government in large-scale farm supply purchasing at significant cost savings.

CHDI helped 6,500 Rwandan coffee farmers develop their company, Rwandan Farmers Coffee Company Ltd, into a profitable brand, which is now sold in more than 1,000 stores in the United Kingdom. We are now in the process of developing two new large-scale businesses in Rwanda: a soy-processing plant that will contract crops from 30,000 farmers, and a coffee-roasting business that will impact 100,000 coffee farmers.


CHDI is active in Dowa, Neno, and Mchinji Districts in Malawi, working with a population of nearly 900,000 people. As in Rwanda, CHDI focuses on developing farming associations. We also develop community planting programs to encourage erosion control, fruit and lumber production, and soil fertility.

In areas where CHDI is working to develop agribusiness, CHDI uses an "anchor farm" model to support local farmers through access to technical advice and firm contracts. This model, first used in 2008, links large commercial farms to hundreds of surrounding smallholder farmers, providing access to improved seed, training, and monitoring of advanced agronomic techniques, and access to a domestic, bulk buyers of crops. For example, CHDI operates a 1,000-hectare commercial farm in western Malawi, growing soy and maize, and is working with 400 nearby smallholder farmers to grow additional soy. CHDI negotiated the purchase of last season’s harvest at a price 90 percent higher than that offered by traditional buyers.

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  • 6,500 Rwandan coffee farmers increased production for their coffee business by 30 percent
  • 4,000 soy farmers in Malawi selling their harvests at a price 90 percent higher than previous years
  • 30,000 people in Rwanda provided with food through improved harvests from 4,300 farmers

Most climate scientists agree that we must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions globally 80 percent by 2050 or risk facing calamitous consequences. Yet there are still people who believe we cannot change the way we produce and consume energy and grow the economy at the same time. In 2006, President Clinton founded the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) using the same market-based and convening approach that had successfully lowered the prices of HIV/AIDS medicines to advance clean energy technology development and innovation, and prove on a large scale that improving energy-efficiency also creates jobs and lifts economies.


While only covering 2 percent of the earth’s surface, cities contribute more than 70 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Through the Cities Program, CCI has helped implement energy efficiency projects including building retrofits, waste management, lighting, and transportation. In Africa, CCI’s Cities Program is working in Addis Ababa, Cairo, Lagos, Johannesburg, and Pretoria.

For example, CCI helped the city of Johannesburg determine the routes, operations, and vehicle specifications of their Rea Vaya Bus Rapid Transit system. More than 100 buses and 20 stations are now serving more than 38,000 passengers per day. The completed project is expected to serve 434,000 passengers per day and reduce CO2e emissions by 1.3 million tons by 2020. And in Lagos, Nigeria, CCI designed the procurement process leading to the development of the city’s first modern solid waste management system. Each year the new system will divert 180,000 tons of waste from landfill sites and reduce greenhouse gas emission by approximately 95,000 metric cubic tons.


Each year, more than 13 million hectares of forests are lost. Deforestation in tropical countries is now a major contributor to climate change, representing about 15 percent of global carbon emissions. The loss of forests and changing land use are both a driver and a result of poverty in developing countries. In response, CCI’s forestry team aims to find sustainable solutions that break this cycle. Improving land use practices is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty and build resilience in poor rural communities – and is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our goal therefore is twofold: to protect and manage forests to mitigate climate change, and to make these practices economically for national governments and local communities.

In Africa, CCI’s Forestry Program includes projects to avoid deforestation in Tanzania and to promote reforestation in Kenya, where less than 2 percent of the total land area is forested. CCI’s forestry program also works in Cambodia, Guyana, and Indonesia. Because most developing countries lack the technology and tools to track emissions and estimate forests’ carbon absorption and storage abilities, CCI is also helping partner countries design and implement their own measuring, reporting, and verification. This supports the development of international agreements on deforestation, and facilitates countries’ access to carbon markets as well as other sources of investment capital for forest preservation.

Also working on forestry projects in Africa, the Clinton Hunter Development Initiative (CHDI) has established large-scale reforestation programs that enable smallholder farmers in Malawi and Rwanda to improve erosion control, fruit and lumber production, and soil fertility. CHDI distributes seedlings and cuttings, educates farmers on the benefits of tree farming to watersheds and farmland, seeks local and international markets for the produce, and pursues fair trade certification. To support national carbon sequestration programs in both countries, CHDI then works to broker carbon credits generated by the planting programs on the international marketplace.

Clean Energy

In 2009, CCI agreed to work with the government of South Africa to assess the potential to create a large-scale "solar park". A solar park is an area where solar power is produced on a large scale, significantly decrease the cost of producing solar power.

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  • 180,000 tons of waste from landfill sites and 95,000 metric cubic tons of greenhouse gas emissions eliminated through a waste management program in Lagos
  • 38,000 passengers per day in Johannesburg given access to a public bus system that will reduce CO2e emissions by 1.3 million tons by 2020
  • 1.9 million trees planted through community planting programs in Malawi
Health Access

After leaving office, President Clinton knew he wanted to continue to address the inequalities in access to health care in the developing world as a private citizen. He started the Clinton Foundation’s HIV/AIDS work in 2002 when, at the Barcelona AIDS Conference, the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis asked him to help fix the HIV/AIDS crisis in the Caribbean. Nelson Mandela, who was standing with President Clinton at the time, encouraged him to try.

As a result, President Clinton founded the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative (now called the Clinton Health Access Initiative, or CHAI). CHAI began working in the Bahamas, and found the market for lifesaving medicines was completely disorganized, operating at high cost and low volume. CHAI brokered agreements with manufacturers to adopt a grocery store model, to become a high-volume, low-cost margin payment business. That one simple thing changed the entire economics of care, and CHAI was able to reach agreements that reduced the price of lifesaving ARVs from $500 to about $120 a person a year.

Today, 2.6 million people worldwide who are living with HIV/AIDS are using medicines purchased under CHAI agreements. People in more than 70 countries worldwide and 36 countries in Africa are benefiting from medications purchased under CHAI’s pricing agreements.

In order to ensure that governments can aggressively and sustainably expand access to care and treatment for HIV/AIDS, CHAI also assists country governments and their ministries of health to develop sound health care policies, strengthen management capacity, and develop cost-effective, practical systems. For example, in Liberia laboratory services – vital to the testing and diagnosis of diseases – throughout the country, including the National Reference Lab, were severely damaged during a civil war and are virtually nonexistent. CHAI is supporting the development of a National Laboratory System Plan aimed at ensuring basic laboratory services and referral linkages at all levels of the health care system, including the establishment of a National Laboratory Services Unit, the reestablishment of the National Public Health Laboratory, development of Regional Laboratories, upgrading of all peripheral laboratories, and the development of essential support systems, such as quality management systems.

Over the years, CHAI has expanded its work to include a wider range of antiretroviral drugs and diagnostics, pediatric medications, the prevention of mother-to-child transmission, therapeutic food, and more affordable malaria medicines. CHAI is also working with national governments to help develop health systems necessary for prevention, care, and treatment. CHAI’s ultimate goal is to keep people from dying before their time.

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  • 2.6 million people worldwide benefitting from HIV/AIDS medicines purchased under CHAI agreements
  • 80 percent price reduction for leading pediatric HIV/AIDS treatments
  • 25,000 children worldwide given lifesaving antiretroviral therapy for HIV/AIDS
  • 30 percent price reduction for an effective malaria medication

After attending thousands of meetings where people talked about issues but took too little action to solve them, President Clinton decided to host a different kind of a meeting – one focused on action. In 2005, he launched the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to bring together world leaders, business executives, leaders of effective nongovernmental organizations, and philanthropists. At CGI’s Annual Meeting and throughout the year, we forge cross-sector partnerships and help match resources with the people and organizations that need them most.

CGI doesn’t focus on speeches. We ask everyone who comes to the CGI Annual Meeting to make a Commitment to Action – a new, measurable, and tangible plan to solve a specific global challenge. Throughout the year, CGI connects members with each other, provides guidance on implementation strategies, and ensures there is follow up. We also help our members develop new commitments and broaden the ones they’ve already made.

Commitments in Africa

To date, CGI members have made more than 1,700 commitments valued at $57 billion, which have already improved the lives of more than 220 million people in more than 170 countries. Inspired by President Clinton’s commitment to Africa, CGI members have made nearly 600 of their own commitments focused on working to build a better future across the continent. They have focused their innovations and collaborations on the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, conflict resolution, helping vulnerable children, improving water and sanitation, fostering agriculture, and improving nutrition.

Inspiring Action in Africa

At CGI Annual Meetings, members come together to learn from each other’s experiences, share ideas, and formulate plans of action. For five years, CGI has welcomed expert speakers to explore needs and solutions specific to Africa.

Most recently, at the 2009 Annual Meeting, CGI member Edna Adan, founder of the Edna Adan Maternity and Teaching Hospital and the former First Lady of Somalia, spoke about business solutions that include women in the workforce. The meeting also featured a workshop on how to help reduce the HIV infection rate among girls in sub-Saharan Africa, where 75 percent of HIV-infected youth are female. At past meetings, sessions have focused on topics from expanding access to education for girls in Kenya to ending the shortage of healthcare workers in sub-Saharan Africa.

President Clinton will continue to encourage CGI members to make commitments that focus on urgent problems in Africa, as well as around the world, this September at the sixth CGI Annual Meeting.

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  • 513 Commitments to Action from CGI members to address global challenges:
  • 171 Economic Empowerment
  • 112 Education
  • 63 Environment and Energy
  • 167 Global Health