The Fortune Forum initiative has achieved extraordinary international media coverage; in print and broadcast reaching over a billion people globally, firmly establishing the Fortune Forum as an influential brand for campaigning and raising awareness of pressing global issues. The analysis report of the international viewing figures can be seen on the ' Results' page.


Super-rich gather for charity

By Shanaz Musafer Business reporter, BBC News

  Dame Vivienne Westwood
Dame Vivienne Westwood was accompanied by her son entrepreneur Joe Corre

A fancy five-star hotel on Park Lane in London, photographers snapping guests as they arrived, champagne flowing - you'd be forgiven for thinking this was an awards ceremony or a young royal's birthday celebrations.

In fact, the occasion was the fourth Fortune Forum Summit - a dinner event aimed at promoting philanthropy and getting the very rich to sign up to make charitable donations to foreign aid.

It may seem strange to be holding such an event encouraging people to give to international causes when so many people are struggling financially in this country, but the organisers of the 2012 summit would argue that tackling global poverty, climate change and disease should never be ignored.

Past speakers at the summit include former US President Bill Clinton and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, while previous celebrity attendees include actress and supermodel Milla Jovavich, singer Jon Bon Jovi and actors Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones.

Fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood welcomed guests to the event, and spoke of her conversations with Prince Charles about saving rainforests before going on to brand world leaders "psychopaths".

"If you can convince the general public that climate change is caused by the terrible financial system we have got, that's one of the messages that I'm trying to get over," she said.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales introduced Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, and billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros.

Mr Soros highlighted the importance of long-term commitment to a cause.

"When you look at the results in Russia it doesn't look a success but I'm very glad we [his foundation Open Society] made the effort, and I think in the long run you will see the results," he said and also pointed to his support of Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma

George Soros said philanthropy now takes up 95% of his time

Matching donations

The Fortune Forum was set up in 2006 as a "convening and campaigning organisation" which aims to bring together wealthy individuals with humanitarian organisations.

The charities it "showcases" include the British Red Cross, Water Aid and clean energy promoters Ice Circle.

Its glamorous founder, socialite and former model Renu Mehta, says that over the past six years her goals have changed.

"I've gone from helping projects through charities or NGOs (non-governmental organisations) to look at crafting policy," she told the BBC website.

She has worked with Nobel Prize-winning economist Sir James Mirrlees to set up the forum's big initiative - the Mehta-Mirrlees (MM) aid model, which aims to raise an additional $100bn (£62bn) a year in real aid.

The MM model encourages (richer) governments to match donations from individuals and businesses, with the government money coming from their existing aid budgets. The hope is that this will give private donors more confidence that their money is being put to the best possible use and therefore lead to more donations.

The UK government has already agreed to match private sector contributions and Ms Mehta says this has already raised about £100m for international causes.

She believes that by scaling up the proposals, the scheme has the potential to raise an extra £5bn.

Taxpayer's choice

But with the event taking place just a matter of hours before the chancellor delivers his Autumn Statement, with more public spending cuts possible and many people feeling the economic pinch, is now really the best time to be trying to drum up support for aid programmes?

Ms Mehta admits that foreign aid might not be top of the public's agenda right now.

"We must recognise that some people are not in favour of spending money on aid and I get that," she told the BBC. "They're interested in education or welfare."

But she goes on: "Whatever happens, the beauty about the MM Model is that it allows the taxpayer to make the choice.

"This £5bn is made from voluntary donations. It's no extra cost because the taxpayer is choosing to donate."


The front page Financial Times article above was also published in the newspapers and websites featured below.

The Associated Press article above was also published in the newspapers and websites featured below.

Troop levels in Afghanistan insufficient, Bill Clinton tells London seminar
The Associated Press

Published: September 26, 2006

LONDON The resurgence of the Taliban and the growth of the poppy harvest in Afghanistan are signs there are insufficient coalition troops in the country, former U.S. President Bill Clinton said Tuesday.

Clinton, addressing an audience at London's Royal Albert Hall, also said the global hunt for al-Qaida leaders must be intensified and warned that fighting terrorism through military methods alone carried a risk of encouraging people to turn to extremism.

"There are not enough troops to serve the country (Afghanistan)," he told delegates, some of whom had paid up to 300 pounds (US$570; €446) to attend the lecture.

Securing governance in Afghanistan and tracking al-Qaida suspects were the two key global priorities faced by the world today, he said.

"I think it is important that the fight against terror secures a genuine Muslim democracy in Afghanistan and that we intensify the hunt for the leaders of al-Qaida, because they are still by far the most dangerous global network with global targets," Clinton said.

But Clinton, who will address the annual conference of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's governing Labour party Wednesday, said the fight against terrorism would be far more successful if the world's powers used a twin track approach, which also involved efforts to reduce poverty.

"The military options are always by far the most expensive," he said.

He said the popularity of the United States soared in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, after his country's efforts to help survivors of the 2004 Asian Tsunami.

"We need to find ways to recreate the circumstances that are forced on us by disasters... it's always less expensive than going to war and the return on the investment is very high," Clinton said.

The former president said that he did not believe Iran's nuclear program was the world's most critical problem. That, he said, was the risk of terrorists acting independently of nations and their potential ability to access nuclear weapons.

Clinton said that in seeking out potential terrorists, nations had to guard against killing innocent people or ruining the livelihoods of innocents.

"You may be recruiting two or three or four potential terrorists for everyone you take out," Clinton told the audience.

Answering questions from members of the audience, he named the world leaders he had the greatest respect for.

Though he listed many statesmen, President Nelson Mandela of South Africa and the late architects of the failed Middle East peace plan of the 1990s, Yitzak Rabin of Israel and King Hussain of Jordan, were those he "loved," Clinton said.

Later, Clinton addressed a summit for the charity organization The Fortune Forum, which campaigns against global poverty, climate changes and diseases in the developing world.

He was presented with a British Red Cross humanitarian award by Hollywood actor Michael Douglas.

"Most of you will have no way of knowing this but I admire Michael Douglas very, very much and I was delighted when I heard he was going to be here tonight," Clinton said.

"I was delighted to see him earlier today and delighted that he and Catherine Zeta-Jones married and I realized he would be well cared for in our old age."

Douglas said the president was a unique individual, saying his "special spirit has yet to reach its peak on the world stage."

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