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By Michelle Nichols
NEW YORK, Sept 26 Presidents rubbed shoulders with Hollywood stars and company chiefs mingled with aid workers as billions of dollars of pledges to tackle global woes were generated at Bill Clinton's annual philanthropic summit.
The former U.S. president's Clinton Global Initiative drew more than 1,200 people to a luxury hotel in midtown Manhattan for its third brainstorming session on health, education, poverty and climate problems aimed at generating action, not merely discussion.
Actor and humanitarian Angelina Jolie unveiled an education partnership to help 1 million children in conflict, post-conflict and emergency situations, while her partner, actor Brad Pitt, pledged up to $5 million to build homes in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans.
The biggest deal on the opening day of the three-day session was a $1.175 billion program seeking to save the lives of mothers and newborn babies in Africa -- $1 billion donated by Norway and $175 million from the Netherlands.
"I am proud to be here today among pioneers whom I know have a permanent place in heaven due to their wonderful deeds and compassion for others," Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said. "Many developing countries have the will and compassion, but not necessarily the economic resources."
While the world's problems weighed on the summit, South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu provided some light relief. Praising protests in Myanmar against the country's military rule, Tutu described the Asian nation's detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi as his "only pin-up."
Some "members" at the slickly presented conference, being broadcast live on the YouTube Web site, were also treated to a warbling gorilla welcome call by primate specialist Jane Goodall.
DOING WELL BY DOING GOOD
Companies flocked to Clinton's summit -- not just to do good, but to seek ways to do well.
Australian Anthony Pratt announced his family's paper and packaging company, Pratt Industries, would spend $1 billion over 10 years to build facilities including recycled paper mills and waste-to-energy plants.
"American money is green right, so being green is green," he told reporters. "We think it's good to do good and to make money at the same time."
Since its launch, the Clinton Global Initiative has seen $10 billion in action pledges. But the rules of attendance, which costs $15,000, are tough: Members must make a pledge and they must keep it if they want to be invited back.
"We're faced with complex problems that government is either not solving or that government alone cannot solve," Clinton told the summit's opening session. "We have to find ways to devote more time, money, skills, organization building. We can help more people and save more lives if we do."
Jolie, who recently visited refugees in Iraq and Syria, said that the world needed to get its priorities straight.
"The conflict in Iraq has displaced over 4 million people," she told a news conference. "There's an appeal from UNICEF and UNHCR to address the education needs of many of these children."
"The entire appeal equals about eight hours of the current spending in Iraq. So just a few hours would send 150,000 children to school. And nothing wins more hearts and minds and nothing gives more freedom than education and nothing is a better deterrent for conflict," said the mother of four.
Clinton will take his philanthropic summit to Hong Kong next year, hoping that Asians will keep issues such as poverty, health and climate change on the agenda as economies from India to China grow rapidly.
To help ordinary people find a way to do good in their own communities, he unveiled on Wednesday at www.mycommitment.org, a database of about 1 million volunteer groups globally (Additional reporting by Tim Gardner and Daniel Bases)