Clinton, Winfrey and others on How to Change the World

Bill Clinton
Former president of the United States
Through the Clinton Global Initiative, 1,000 commitments made by all kinds of people are improving 200 million lives in 150 countries—in health, education, economic empowerment, reconciliation and climate change. Imagine the impact of all of us, regardless of income, skills or time availability, making a commitment like that, in our communities or in a distant land. So the most important thing you can and should do is: Something. Something you care about.

I especially favor any action to accelerate our path to a clean, efficient, independent-energy future. Even if you're just changing the light bulbs, improving insulation or driving a higher-mileage car, you're moving us toward more jobs, lower costs, improved health, stronger national security and victory over global warming.

Want to take action? Go to MyCommitment.org

Bill Gates
Co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Immunizing children is one of the best investments we can make. Vaccines for preventable diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and measles have protected close to 40 million children in developing countries so far this decade. Scientists are working on pneumonia and rotavirus vaccines that will be a huge step forward in keeping children healthy. Vaccines work. They have helped to reduce child deaths from 20 million per year in 1960 to roughly 10 million last year. We must continue to innovate vaccine science and strategy, and continue to deliver vaccines to every corner of the world, so all kids can live healthy and productive lives.

Want to take action? Go to gavialliance.org

Mia Farrow
UNICEF goodwill ambassador
The United Nations was conceived out of the highest aspirations of the international community to address "barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind." Yet 60 years later, and an incomprehensible six years into the Darfur genocide, defenseless populations continue to perish at the hands of their own governments.

We need a better U.N. It is past time for the world to call upon the U.N. to establish a system for predicting and preventing mass atrocities. Regardless of the composition of the Security Council or the objections of the perpetrators, the nations of the world have a responsibility to protect defenseless civilians by whatever means necessary. This obligation supersedes protestations of national sovereignty and is the very heart of the concept of the United Nations.

Want to take action? Go to MiaFarrow.org

Wendy Kopp
Founder of Teach for America
There is plenty of evidence that it is possible to provide all children, including those who grow up in low-income communities, with an excellent education. Given the magnitude and systemic nature of educational inequity, however, we will need to challenge traditional paradigms in order to realize this goal. The single most important thing we can do to solve educational inequity is to marshal the energy of our society's future leaders against it. We need not just a few, but many, of our top recent college graduates to teach in our highest-poverty communities and then act with the conviction and insight they gain to effect the fundamental changes necessary to bring educational opportunity for all.

Want to take action? Go to teachforamerica.org

Nicholas Negroponte
Founder of One Laptop Per Child
Provide each child in the developing world with a connected laptop. These need to be powerful, rugged, sunlight-readable machines that can be either solar- or human-powered. They must have content and software designed for collaborative, creative, joyful, self-empowered learning. A child should own the laptop for use inside and outside school, for music, games, books—seamlessly integrated in his or her life. I used to think they should cost $100, but now believe they should cost $0. Yes, zero. This is achieved by asking people in the developed world to give one or more, or to buy two, but only get one.

Want to take action? Go to laptop.org

Carla Del Ponte
Former chief prosecutor of U.N. international criminal-law tribunals
The world must be based on democracy, and democracy depends on strong, independent judiciaries. The creation of the International Criminal Court was a breakthrough step toward a world ruled by law, but now the world is falling back into power politics. Many people worldwide lack trust in justice brought by the international community because they have seen such double standards. By refusing to bring justice to certain victims, the international community is creating perfect recruitment fields for terrorist organizations. All crimes must be investigated. All victims have the right to see justice done. To ensure this, we need a world police supervised by the International Tribunal. Peace without justice cannot be sustainable.

Want to take action? Go to carla.delponte@eda.admin.ch

Jeffrey Sachs
Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the world's most important cause. Achieving the MDGs—to reduce hunger, disease and extreme poverty by 2015—would save millions of lives every year, slow the rate of global population growth, enable impoverished communities to break the poverty trap and eliminate the dire conditions which are fostering extremism and terror. The goals are achievable through proven, cost-effective technologies and global cooperation. By championing the MDGs, the next administration would restore moral luster and can-do leadership to U.S. foreign policy, greatly enhancing U.S. national security in the process.

Want to take action? Go to millenniumpromise.org

Zainab Salbi
Cofounder and president of Women for Women International
Women are disproportionately harmed by most world crises. Two thirds of the world's poor are women. Up to 80 percent of refugees worldwide are women and children. Ninety-eight percent of HIV/AIDS-positive women live in developing countries. So, investing in women is a failproof way of creating solid, tangible change and building sustainable peace. Sponsoring one woman at a time, investing in her capacity to earn a steady, sustainable income, to know her rights and stand up for herself, allows her an opportunity to be the agent of change not only in her life but also for the future of her family, community and country.

Want to take action? Go to womenforwomen.org

David Simon
Co-creator of ' The Wire '
It is well past the time for an American president to acknowledge the strategic failure and moral rot that has resulted from the national drug prohibition.

Forty years of drug warfare has not rescued a single inner-city neighborhood, nor reduced the potency or availability of narcotics, nor stopped any user from getting his or her shot. It has, instead, turned inner-city neighborhoods into free-fire zones, created both a massive underground economy and an outlaw culture, and in the most vulnerable and alienated neighborhoods, made the dynamic of policing urban American akin to that of Israelis attempting to secure the streets of Gaza.

But here's the hidden cost of failure -- and it is one that even the most hardened, law-and-order politician should embrace: At the heart of the American city, the drug war has destroyed the very profession of law enforcement. Why? Because in places like West Baltimore and North Philadelphia, East St. Louis and South Chicago, a drug arrest is the simplest, easiest stat there is. No need to master probable cause, or complex criminal investigation, to use and not be used by a police informant, to learn how to write a proper search warrant or testify in court without perjuring yourself -- a drug warrior needs only to jump out on a corner, jack up a mope, pull a couple caps from his pocket and call it a day.

Yet as the numbers of drug arrests soar and as we jail a record number of non-violent offenders, arrest rates for murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault decline dramatically in most major cities. Our police deterrent expends itself on a stat game that leads nowhere and solves nothing while dangerous crimes go unpunished by officers who no longer have the training, the will, or the incentive to do the hard work of solving real crime.

Police used to serve communities, defend the real estate. They identified the violent players and made the cases that had to be made. Now, after forty years, generations of officers schooled in the flummery of the drug war merely get paid harvesting street-level stats while the communities slowly die. Is there a politician of either party with courage enough to acknowledge this? Unlikely. But that doesn't make it any less true.

Oprah Winfrey
Founder of the Angel Network
Participate in the education of a child. Whether you are a parent, a teacher or a mentor, by pouring your heart and wisdom into the life of a child, you will make a difference that can impact generations to come.

Education remains the key to unlocking the door to a world where dreams can become reality, and where hope can take flight. This belief drives my personal giving and the work we do through the Angel Network. It's why we build schools around the globe, empower women and support at-risk children.

Together, we can change the world—one child at a time.

Want to take action? Go to OprahsAngelNetwork.org

Clinton, Winfrey and others on How to Change the World | Culture