It’s September once again, and with the end of summer comes the perennial gathering of world leaders at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City. At the same time, the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative this week is advancing the discussion of pressing issues of global development with guests ranging from Fortune 500 CEOs to US President Barack Obama.

The Clinton Global Initiative, or CGI, was founded by outgoing President Bill Clinton in order to bring policymakers, business leaders, NGOs and members of the philanthropic community together, with the aim of fomenting the kind of unscripted interactions that lead to deeper relationships and specific commitments to concrete action. After ten years of work, the theme of the 2014 meeting is “Reimagining Impact” – the effort to improve how CGI’s members measure and assess the success or failure of their projects.

This emphasis on impact evaluation is part of a three year focus on rigorous accountability in the development sphere.

It’s September once again, and with the end of summer comes the perennial gathering of world leaders at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York City. At the same time, the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative this week is advancing the discussion of pressing issues of global development with guests ranging from Fortune 500 CEOs to US President Barack Obama.

The Clinton Global Initiative, or CGI, was founded by outgoing President Bill Clinton in order to bring policymakers, business leaders, NGOs and members of the philanthropic community together, with the aim of fomenting the kind of unscripted interactions that lead to deeper relationships and specific commitments to concrete action. After ten years of work, the theme of the 2014 meeting is “Reimagining Impact” – the effort to improve how CGI’s members measure and assess the success or failure of their projects.

This emphasis on impact evaluation is part of a three year focus on rigorous accountability in the development sphere. The discussion of the 2012 CGI meeting were centered around new ideas for better designing development projects (“Designing for Impact”), while the 2013 theme focused on improving the implementation phases (“Mobilizing for Impact”). President Obama, with his Tuesday speech, also marked one year since his launch of the Stand With Civil Society Initiative, which as National Security Advisor Susan Rice has put it, is “a groundbreaking effort to support, defend, and sustain the work of civil society around the world amidst a rising tide of restrictions on its work.”

Major topics for discussion at CGI will include the economics of climate change, gender equality in development, and the role of cities in innovation. Education is also be a major emphasis, with a plenary session led by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Cisco CEO John Chambers on the topic of “Putting Education to Work.” Given that over 13 percent of youth are unemployed, while at the same time employers in both developed and developing countries are having trouble filling job vacancies due to a lack of applicable skills, the session will focus on how civil society can work together to improve the school-to-work transition.

At the United Nations, President Obama will face a host of issues, ranging from health to national security. Rice has called this week “another intense foreign policy and national security week,” after the NATO summit earlier this month, and Obama’s Wednesday address will need to cover the broad range of international issues.

UN discussions will address, for instance, the global coordination of a response to Ebola, with Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon leading a high level meeting on the topic Thursday. The UN is expected to announce more detailed plans for providing financial assistance, equipment, personnel, and treatment units to the effected countries.

Finally, as the massive demonstrations in New York and elsewhere have already shown, much of the week will be devoted to climate change – and ways to confront and even reverse its effects, even as global climate negotiations have stagnated. Tying together the UN meetings on the topic with the efforts of civil society and independent groups is “Climate Week NYC.”

Climate Week NYC is a series of events organized by the nonprofit Climate Group, and timed to coincide with the 2014 UN Climate Summit, held on Tuesday. The summit is not a part of the official UN climate treaty process, the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – the next UNFCCC negotiations are in Paris in 2015 – but Ban Ki-moon is concerned with getting an initial 2014 buy in from the major polluters ahead of those talks.

Even though the Summit’s stated goal – to “mobilize political will for an ambitious global agreement by 2015” – is vague, the stakes are high. The ability of major powers to agree in principal on the shape of an agreement could give them a huge head start on next year’s talks.

The Summit will also address the other side of the climate coin – how to adapt to the changes that are already happening.

Community leaders around the world are already working to increase resilience against more powerful storms, floods, and droughts. More severe weather of all kinds presents challenges for mayors, engineers, and farmers. Indeed, from Tulsa to Michigan to North Carolina, towns across the US are scrambling to strengthen dams or conserve fresh water reservoirs.

But there is also a real chance that if world leaders can’t agree on a strategy in New York – and real, binding commitments in 2015 – things may deteriorate faster than we can adapt. That sense of impending crisis hangs over the rest of the deliberations of the international community this week as well. From Ukraine to Ebola, the global response to these metastasizing challenges will be critical in the months to come.