Melinda Gates: Recession pressured global efforts

As Millennium Development Goals reach a key milestone, Gates Foundation co-chair reflects on decade of progress and work yet to come on health, poverty, environment.

Melinda Gates, shown here in a photo from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, spoke today at the TedxChange event in New York. The gathering was held to mark the 10-year anniversary of the foundation's Millennium Development Goals, a series of global initiatives aimed to be completed by 2015. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The tough economic conditions of the last few years have strained efforts to achieve global goals such as reducing poverty, improving health, and addressing environmental concerns, says Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"Realistically in a recessionary time people do pull inward and I think it does become more difficult for certain," Gates said in a telephone call with reporters last week, held as the world marks 10 years since it set the Millennium Development Goals.

Gates said the goals she and the Gates Foundation are focused on--the ones related to reducing poverty and reducing childhood deaths--are nonetheless achievable by the 2015 deadline.

"We are making progress," Gates said at today's TedxChange event which just wrapped up today in New York. "I see sadness and poverty, but you see change and it is the human capacity."

Others of the development goals, particularly those related to climate change and environmental issues, will be tougher to meet, Gates said. "Some of the ones around environmental sustainability, I think that those are going to be more challenging over time," Gates told reporters. However, Gates said that is not her area of expertise and one where others, not the Gates Foundation, need to take the lead.

For its part, the Gates is trying a number of new tactics to make people more aware of the Millennium Development Goals, including a Flickr campaign that seeks to have folks submit photos of themselves holding a sign with their own vision for how to create a better future.

Gates was asked about how she got into her philanthropic work and attributed that to a trip she and Bill Gates took to Africa when they were engaged.

"I went to see the savanna and the animals but I was so touched by the people," she said at the event, which was broadcast over the Internet.

About the author

    During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried has changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley. These days, most of her attention is focused on Microsoft. E-mail Ina.

     

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