Thursday

28th Jan 2021

Bill Gates: Millennium Development goals still 10 years away

  • OECD figures on Wednesday are expected to show that the EU is still behind on its collective target (Photo: United Nations Photo)

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) including poverty reduction can be reached if rich countries keep their aid pledges, but the 2015 deadline will still be missed by up to six years, according to Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates.

Gates made the remarks to members of the European Parliament's development committee in Strasbourg on Tuesday (5 April), on the eve of a keenly awaited OECD report on development aid. His European tour this week also includes Paris and Berlin.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

In May 2005, EU-15 member states reaffirmed a previous aid commitment to give 0.7 percent of their gross national income (GNI) to poorer countries by 2015, also settling on an intermediary commitment of 0.51 percent by 2010.

"The increase, if we got to this 0.7 percent, would be €20 billion in addition to what is being given today. Given what we now know on how to spend that money well, it would make a huge difference," Gates told MEPs.

"That would give you the money to achieve the MDGs, not by 2015, but within ten years," added the world's second richest man, currently on a 'Living Proof' tour to promote the positive effects of development aid.

The MDGs, a set of eight global poverty initiatives ratified by UN member states in 2000, include the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, universal primary education, gender equality and reduced child mortality, with a deadline set for 2015.

Other targets include the fight against AIDS, improvements in maternal heath and environmental sustainability.

EU members Sweden, Denmark, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have already met the 0.7 percent spending commitment, as has non-EU member Norway, but others are behind target, despite constant pressure from NGOs.

On Wednesday, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development will release official aid donation figures for 2010 for the 24 members of its Development Assistance Committee, 23 of the world's main donor states, plus the European Commission.

NGOs expect mixed results. "It looks like the collective EU target will be missed, despite some progress by individual countries. Obviously this is disappointing," said Thomas Johnny, an African development aid expert with Action Aid.

"In particular, reports that the current holders of the G20, France, will miss their target, sets a bad example at a time when European aid is needed more than ever," he added.

Despite increases in private philanthropy, including from his own Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates said government funding would remain the primary funding source for the foreseeable future.

"If you take international aid, private philanthropy, even with our foundation and others, is less than two percent of what's given to poor countries," he said.

"I think we can grow it [philanthropy], and I think it has a special role ... but in terms of the big things, really helping poor countries with health and agriculture, it's government foreign aid. Even though we want to maximise philanthropy, it will not offset anything done by the rich governments."

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was established 15 years ago and has concentrated the largest part of its €24.5 billion invested so far on health issues, especially the development of cheap vaccines.

However, the foundation has faced criticism over its rising power and ability to drive parts of the development agenda.

Analysis

The EU's vaccine strategy - the key points

As the EU Commission gets entangled in a dispute with one of the vaccine producers and gets heat for the perceived slow roll-out of the vaccines, we take a look at what the EU has done and not done.

Coronavirus

EU-AstraZeneca row flares up after vaccines shortfall

"The view that the company is not obliged to deliver because we signed a 'best effort agreement' is neither correct nor acceptable," said EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides, after the company's CEO tried to justified delayed deliveries to the EU.

Opinion

First Covid, now McKinsey - how austerity hit EU healthcare

The marketisation of health and long-term care, the push for Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), and the public spending cuts encouraged by EU economic governance processes all contributed to the increased commercialisation, privatisation, and reduction of health and long-term care services.

News in Brief

  1. Putin holds out olive branch to Europe
  2. US snatched Russian anti-air system from Libya warlord
  3. UK to extradite alleged trafficker to EU despite Brexit
  4. EU puts trust in Boeing 737s after post-crash ban
  5. EU animal-export trade under harsh spotlight
  6. City of London wants to set rules for EU
  7. MEPs want 2030 targets to reduce consumption footprint
  8. Coronavirus cases worldwide pass 100m

Exclusive

Frontex suspends operations in Hungary

The EU's border and coast guard agency, Frontex will suspend operations in Hungary. The move follows a European Court of Justice ruling in December demanding Hungary stop pushing people back into Serbia.

Opinion

Migrants in Bosnia: a disaster foretold on EU doorstep

Ultimately, the European Pact on Migration and Asylum, only unveiled in September, risks reinforcing bottlenecks and misery at the borders, should be thoroughly amended before final agreement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Poland imposes anti-abortion law amid EU concern
  2. The EU's vaccine strategy - the key points
  3. EU-AstraZeneca row flares up after vaccines shortfall
  4. First Covid, now McKinsey - how austerity hit EU healthcare
  5. Frontex suspends operations in Hungary
  6. Cyprus: a heavy caseload for new EU prosecutors office
  7. MEPs: Portugal 'risks undermining' trust in EU prosecutor
  8. EU to control vaccine exports in row over delays

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us