Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bill Clinton delivers speech on sustainability in Costa Rica

At the 2nd annual Sustainability and Happiness Business Forum, the former U.S. president selected the six people who could “save the world.”
Former US President Bill Clinton and
Costa Rican President Laura Chincilla
meet prior to the conference
Every one of the 650-plus seats looked filled during Bill Clinton’s presentation at the Hotel InterContinental, in Escazú, in west San José. Tickets for the two-day congress, known as the Sustainability and Happiness Business Forum, cost $750
Clinton did his part by delivered a message on environmental sustainability. He cited statistics and gave colorful anecdotes, while relying on a practical theme – green economies save the environment, and money.
“My advice to everybody is to do something [so] that other people can see that the only economics that can make sense in the long run are sustainable economics,” Clinton said.
Clinton, the president of the United States from 1993 to 2001, spoke for a little less than a half-hour before joining event organizer Javier del Campo for the sit-down interview for another half-hour.
He gave the typical platitudes about Costa Rica. The former U.S. president praised the country’s protection of jungles and use of hydropower, and he lauded Costa Rica as an example for the rest of the world on how green economies can succeed.
Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla met with Clinton before the speech. Clinton said he suggested Costa Rica could be a leader in clean energy technology. He suggested the country find investors so it can manufacture cheap, electric cars for the isthmus.
Clinton hoped to boost Chinchilla’s low approval rating by extolling her governing and attempts to push a tax reform during difficult times. Clinton called Central America an “innocent bystander” of a financial crisis that began in his own country, a swipe at the economic troubles that started under his successor George W. Bush.
Clinton apologized for the crisis and for the effects of global warming on Costa Rica, adding that Central America has taken the brunt of the effects of climate change. The region has seen a drastic rise in the number of hurricanes and floods, disasters often associated with global warming.
Clinton also recalled his first visit to Costa Rica for the 1997 Summit of the Americas, where he joined Latin American leaders in pledging commitments to sustainable development. During that trip, Clinton and his vice president, Al Gore, joined then-Costa Rican President José María Figueres on an electric bus tour into the Braulio National Park Rainforest near the Caribbean coast.
Gore was the keynote speaker at the event last year. Figueres – who returned from a seven year self-exile at the end of 2011 – spoke at this year’s forum, as did special guests former Brazilian Environment Minister Marina Silva and Bhutan’s director of the Center for Bhutanese Studies, Dasho Karma Ura, among others.
But the best way to sell a ticket was to snag a major headliner, and organizers one-upped last year’s guest star by bringing in his former boss.
While Clinton has less obvious environmental credentials than Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 and an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2006 for the climate change film “An Inconvenient Truth,” the ex-president has contributed plenty to environmentalism movements.
Clinton talked of these achievements along with successes and failures he’s witnessed in developing countries like Haiti, Brazil and Rwanda.
He said he’s witnessing a change of thinking in third-world countries, where they’re beginning to realize an economy can “get healthy without putting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”
A campaign launched by his Clinton Foundation called the Clinton Climate Initiative attempts to address climate change by working with governments to reduce emissions, utilize clean energy and prevent deforestation. He touched on all three of these issues during his speech, heaping on abundant accolades on Brazil and Costa Rica.
The night ended with del Campo asking a question to Clinton that the host said was written by his 11-year-old son. The kid didn’t go easy on the ex-president. He wanted Clinton to select six people who could save the world.
Clinton made his choices:
Nelson Mandela (the South African leader who helped topple apartheid), the Dalai Lama, (the Tibetan leader and Nobel Peace prize winner), Bill Gates (Microsoft founder and philanthropist) , Muhammad Yunus (the Nobel Peace Prizer winner who invented microloans), Edward O. Wilson (a Pulitzer prize winning author), and the women of Rwanda (who survived brutal massacres in the country).
The most affecting anecdotes described Clinton’s time in Rwanda, talking to survivors of the genocides of the mid-1990s. He listened as women who lost their entire families and were betrayed by friends showed the fortitude to carry on, start new lives and forgive.
Still, Clinton cautioned the audience to not focus too much on looking for the next hero or rock star. He said, “I think sometimes we make a mistake looking for saviors.” The reason people tend to search for them is because we’re hoping to find that type of courage in ourselves.
“Nothing elates us more than seeing a free spirit,” Clinton said. “We love Mandela because we’re afraid we couldn’t do it. We love those women because we believe couldn’t do it. But if we want to save the planet in our own way. We have to do it.”

1 comment:

  1. Hi there, You have done an incredible job.
    I'll definitely digg it and for my part suggest to my friends. I am sure they will be benefited from this web site.
    Also see my web page > Diet Program