At the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID), the Aspen Institute, the Rockefeller Foundation, IBM, Hyatt Hotels and many other private sector donors, committed to provide assistance to address the challenges of the disabled in Vietnam, without regard to cause. The announcement at the CGI, valued at over $3.5 million, represents a unique opportunity for governments, foundations and the private sector to coordinate efforts to improve the lives of people with disabilities.
In the 40 years since the end of the war in Vietnam, the country has become a regional economic and commercial leader, and its relations with the United States have steadily improved. But high rates of physical and mental disabilities have continued to afflict the Vietnamese, causing heartache to countless families and a major economic burden to the country.
The CGI commitment includes $3 million from USAID. "In Vietnam, the U.S. Government has provided over $48 million in assistance since 1989 to people with disabilities. USAID's assistance addresses the health, education, livelihood and social needs and promotes equal opportunities for and social integration of people with disabilities to enable them to contribute to Vietnam's growing economy," said Frank Donovan, USAID Mission Director in Vietnam.
The U.S.-Vietnam Dialog Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin, has created a comprehensive ten-year strategic Plan of Action that includes practical steps to expand humanitarian services to people with disabilities and their families, without regard to cause. The Dialog Group is co-chaired by Aspen Institute president Walter Isaacson, who remarked that the Dialog Group "has helped move both countries towards a common understanding of how to address the challenge of meeting the needs of people with disabilities. We are delighted to see the Plan of Action's recommendations gain real momentum with help from so many partners."
Dr. Charles Bailey heads Aspen's program, which seeks financial contributions and in-kind technical assistance from U.S. corporations, foundations and private individuals, as well as governments, in an unusual alliance of public and private partners in the two countries. The program will support projects which pilot and expand models for comprehensive services benefiting people with disabilities and their families, in collaboration with local governments and agencies in Vietnam. This program will demonstrate ways that alliances of public and private partners can contribute to improving the lives of people with disabilities.
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges. Since 2005, CGI Annual Meetings have brought together nearly 150 current and former heads of state, 18 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, along with heads of foundations, major philanthropists, directors of the most effective nongovernmental organizations, and prominent members of the media. These CGI members have made nearly 2,000 commitments, which have already improved the lives of 300 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued in excess of $63 billion. The CGI community also includes CGI University (CGI U), a forum to engage college students in global citizenship, MyCommitment.org, an online portal where anybody can make a Commitment to Action, and CGI Lead, which engages a select group of young CGI members for leadership development and collective commitment-making. CGI America is the newest addition to this community. For more information, visitwww.clintonglobalinitiative.org.
The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways: seminars, young-leader fellowships around the globe, policy programs, and public conferences and events. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It also has an international network of partners.