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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Health, Education, Poverty and the Environment

I attended the Clinton Global Initiative University conference in Austin, Texas this weekend in connection with my day job with Nourish International. The conference is based on Clinton's Global Initiative which brings world leaders together to discuss, what else, but pressing global issues, except the University version features college students.

Bill Clinton's tie aside, the most interesting thing I saw at a conference was a blurring of the lines between four of the major issues the world faces today: Health, Education, Poverty and the Environment. At the conference, it was taken as self-evident that these for issues were not just interconnected, but meant to be addressed in tandem.

This might seem obvious; after all, each of the four issues have to do with resource scarcity. What surprised (and encouraged) me was how frequently specific discussions on one issue drifted towards the others. A seminar on Global Health focused almost entirely on the environmental, education and economic factors that lead to the health problems in the first place. A discussion on the future of food seamlessly blended the need for more effective work in all four issues.

What excites me about this is that, several years ago, it wasn't that way. I distinctly remember discussing the Nourish business plan (necessary background: Nourish focuses on global poverty) with a professional who asked us when we were going to focus on the environment.

The problem with viewing each of these issues in a vacuum is that it limits the effectiveness of each potential solution. This can be seen clearly in the development of India and China, which, having begun to address their poverty problems, face a looming environmental problem -- one which threatens the health and long term economic security of their populations.

Good to see then, the "best and the brightest" of America attempting at least a more holistic approach.

1 comment:

Schultz said...

Great post, sounds like it was a great conference too. Who were some of the other speakers?