Bloomberg Philanthropies aims to make splash during Global Goals Week

Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies. Photo by: Jim Gillooly / PEI / CC BY-NC-SA

NEW YORK — Bloomberg Philanthropies is set to arrive at Global Goals Week and refocus an already packed schedule in New York. The philanthropy giant’s launch of a major new event is set to make the week a little more glitzy and aim to shift the focus toward the role of the private sector in driving a transparent, sustainable global economy forward.

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Global Business Forum, an all-day event on Sept. 20 at the Plaza Hotel in midtown Manhattan, may serve as an answer to which platform could replace the star-studded Clinton Global Initiative, which closed its doors last year after more than a decade.

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The first Global Business Forum appears to have certain shadows of CGI, from its broad, global outlook to its impressive speaker list.

The arrival of the Global Business Forum could also signify a nod to the growing number of private sector-hosted events surrounding the opening of the United Nations General Assembly — known as Global Goals Week this year — says Vicki Spruill, the president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. The Skoll Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and World Economic Forum are all hosting forums within a few days of each other next week.

“Leadership by these foundations highlights how philanthropy plays an important role in convening stakeholders to discuss how our world can collectively achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. For Bloomberg and others, these convenings will bring together diverse groups to strategize on how to collectively address complex global issues by leveraging resources and expertise across sectors,” Spruill wrote in an email to Devex.

The contribution of the private sector is crucial, she explained.

“We cannot achieve goals like ending extreme poverty and reducing the impact of climate change without the leadership of civil society, and we celebrate the role foundations like Bloomberg are taking to move the needle on strengthening partnerships and unlocking new capital to think and work differently in order to ‘leave no one behind,’” she said.

The Global Business Forum is aiming to answer a few broad questions: How can business leaders chart a clear path forward and help create a more transparent and sustainable framework for the global economy? How can political and business leaders together build a “new multilateral economic order” to solve the political and institutional challenges of our century? Specific topics on the program will include job and economic growth, along with technological innovations, trade and immigration policies, and the role of cities and countries in confronting climate change.

The rundown of speakers taking on these topics reads like a who’s who list of global power players in development, politics and finance. There’s Bill Gates; Bill Clinton; Jack Ma, executive chairman of the Alibaba Group; and Aliko Dangote, owner of the Dangote Group — and also the richest person in Africa. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and World Bank President Jim Kim are also listed among the other speakers, which reportedly will top 100 CEOs from companies including BlackRock and Goldman Sachs, as well as more than 30 government leaders. While many events will be held on a main stage and live streamed, others will be held behind closed doors, a model that both CGI and the World Economic Forum have practiced.  

Following Bloomberg’s two regional forums in Africa in 2014 and 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies first announced this May that they were expanding their platform in New York. At the time, Michael Bloomberg — owner of Bloomberg L.P. and Bloomberg Philanthropies, and former New York City mayor — called it a “critical moment for the world's economy.”

“Recent events around the world have challenged the principles that have governed commerce for the past several decades. In transitional times like these, I believe business and government must work together to solve the issues affecting us all," Bloomberg said in the media release.

Bloomberg Philanthropies spokespeople declined to comment on the details of the event.

Since his three terms as New York City’s mayor drew to a close in 2013, Bloomberg has become something of a regular fixture at U.N. and climate change forums. First, he served as the U.N. special envoy for cities and climate change, and then launched the Compact of Mayors, a platform for cities to take action on climate change, with former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other partners. Last year, the World Health Organization appointed Bloomberg as their global ambassador for noncommunicable diseases.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has echoed some of these areas in its work, investing in clean energy, sustainable cities, noncommunicable diseases, as well as tobacco use and obesity — two issues Bloomberg took on as mayor of New York.

Its partners for the Global Business Forum — including Dangote Industries, Alibaba Group, EXOR and Mahindra Group — stretch across the globe and sectors, speaking to the continued reach of the foundation. One of the partners, the Saudi Arabian MiSK Foundation, founded by Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, remarked that they are undertaking a strategy of going from “local to global,” said Nada Al Tuwaijri, MiSK’s global spokesperson.

“We will have a lot of CEOs and top executives meeting to discuss economic themes in the Arab region and it will be a really important business, economic dialogue,” she said. “There will be a lot of ambassadors, and with a focus on the Arab region when it comes to economy, we want to show that we are all aligned.”

We'll be on the ground in New York from Sept. 15 - Sept. 22 at Global Goals Week, bringing you daily morning briefings with everything you need to know — whether you're here in person or following the events from afar. Sign up for our Global Goals Week daily briefings.

About the author

  • Amy Lieberman

    Amy Lieberman is the U.N. Correspondent for Devex. She covers the United Nations and reports on global development and politics. Amy previously worked as a freelance reporter, covering the environment, human rights, immigration, and health across the U.S. and in more than 10 countries, including Colombia, Mexico, Nepal, and Cambodia. Her coverage has appeared in the Guardian, the Atlantic, Slate, and the Los Angeles Times. A native New Yorker, Amy received her master’s degree in politics and government from Columbia’s School of Journalism.