The Gates Foundation encourages the UN and honors inspiration as goalkeepers
Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates combined characteristic optimism with sobering questions about persistent gender inequality and hunger at an event focused on achieving the Global Development Goals that the Gateses Foundation hosted on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.
Bill Gates again advocated for investments in agricultural technologies – such as drought-resistant modified seeds – to combat food insecurity. But the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also announced a $100 million donation on Wednesday to help address hunger and malnutrition more quickly. The donation will finance projects such as UNICEF’s child nutrition fund and a partnership with the private sector to subsidize fertilizers for African farmers, as well as other initiatives.
French Gates lamented the slow movement toward gender equality in a speech, asking, “How can we change the face of power in our institutions, in our communities and, yes, in our families?”
The annual Goalkeepers events at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City were held for the first time in person since before the coronavirus pandemic began. They aim to draw attention to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals related to poverty, hunger, equity, health, education and climate change mitigation.
According to assessments by the Gates Foundation as well as UN agencies, progress towards achieving many goals by 2030 has stalled and, in fact, has reversed.
However, the foundation has scored some successes, honoring European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen for her leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. He hailed the European Union’s export of more than a billion doses of the vaccine and pledged further investment in healthcare manufacturing in African countries.
In a Global Goalkeeper Award acceptance speech on Tuesday evening, von der Leyen said she had shared it with “millions of ordinary Europeans who have helped us all through the pandemic”.
This is despite the world’s dismal record on health equity, measured by access to tests, treatments and vaccines, as well as opposition from Gates and others to relaxing intellectual property rules. to enable the wider manufacture of new vaccines.
“The bottom line is that this should never happen again,” said Mark Suzman, the foundation’s CEO, when asked if the foundation needed to do anything different to ensure equitable access to vaccines. He also highlighted the foundation’s commitment to developing better pandemic response plans.
Vanessa Natake also received an award for her work to reduce suffering. The Ugandan activist has launched protests to demand action on climate change in her country and has now launched initiatives to install solar panels and efficient stoves in schools.
In an interview with The Associated Press earlier this month, Natake said the human costs of the climate crisis are always missing from global summits like this. “It’s really the human face that tells the story, that tells the experiences of what the communities are going through,” she said.
The foundation also recognized Afghan journalist Zahra Joya, founder of the Rukhshana Media news agency which covers women’s issues, and physician Radhika Batra, who co-founded an Indian non-profit organization, Every Infant Matters.
Abby Maxman, president of Oxfam America, cited the huge profits made by fossil fuel companies as an example of the gap between what the world knows it needs to do to achieve a livable future and the actions we actually take. .
“It is truly extraordinary that as humanity faces these truly existential crises, there are even more incentives to destroy our planet than to save lives and save the planet,” she said. declared.
At this year’s general assembly, Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, told world leaders in his opening address that they must tax the profits of fossil fuel companies.
Leaders are not bound by the suggestion, and the UN generally lacks enforcement mechanisms to hold countries accountable for their commitments and pledges, such as those made to achieve global development goals.
Helping to hold leaders accountable and organizing discussions are roles philanthropies can play, said Patricia McIlreavy, president and CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. Even the name “Sustainable Development Goals” can make what they stand for difficult to understand, she said.
“I don’t think we put it in simple terms often enough to connect people. I mean, it’s Jackson, Mississippi. It means having access to drinking water. It’s having hope that you can survive and thrive,” she said.
Goalkeepers is just one of many events held in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. The Clinton Global Initiative met again this year for the first time since 2016. President Joe Biden hosted the fundraiser for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria which seeks to raise $18 billion of dollars. The Gates Foundation on Wednesday announced an additional donation of $152 million to the Global Fund for a total of more than $900 million over the next three years.
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