Bill Gates Says Human Condition Improving Faster Than Ever

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Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates says the world is becoming a better place.

Speaking as part of panel discussion at the 43rd World Economic Forum Annual Meeting last week, William H. Gates III described the positive advances made in the reduction of child mortality and his belief that further improvements are to come.

“We’ve improved the human condition faster than ever before,” he said, referring to the impact of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and specifically MDG number four, which addresses child mortality. “At the base year 1990, 12 million children died every year. By 2015, it will be below 6 million.”

Bill Gates

Bill Gates

When asked what improvements might be made in the MDGs, Gates said he believed no extra goals were needed and only the targets should be revised.

“Leave it alone,” Gates said. “It’s hard to argue with success because this success is measured in lives.”

Gates was on a panel including Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General, United Nations; David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Helene D. Gayle, President and Chief Executive Officer, CARE USA; Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda; Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever; and H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Cameron emphasized the importance of not wasting the remaining three years to 2015, when the timeframe of the existing MDG is due to elapse.

Gates Praises UN Goals

Along with other panelists, he praised the simplicity and accountability of the existing MDGs and warned against complicating them if and when they are updated in 2015.

His comments were echoed by Gayle, who attributed the MDGs’ success to their simplicity and measurability.

“It is doable to make poverty history,” she said. “The challenge will be keeping them [the MDGs] simple.”

She added that climate change will have one of the greatest impacts on poverty of any issue, saying that climate change should be added the MDG framework.

Polman pointed out that food security is a critical issue facing the delivery of the MDGs.

“It is hard to beat global poverty if you don’t have food security,” he said.

Queen Rania stated her belief that equality education is key, saying that young people need to be equipped with 21st century skills to reach their potential and unlock the benefits of entrepreneurialism.

“Good teachers teach,” she said. “But great teachers transform.”

Kagame also applauded the progress made under the MDG framework.

“The MDGs have been very valuable in many ways and proof of what the world is capable of doing when it comes together around certain principles,” he said.

The 43rd World Economic Forum Annual Meeting took place January 23 to 27. Its theme was  Resilient Dynamism and more than 2,500 participants from over 100 countries took part in the meeting.

Participants included nearly 50 heads of state or government and more than 1,500 business leaders from the Forum’s 1,000 Member companies, as well as Social EntrepreneursGlobal ShapersYoung Global Leaders and representatives from civil society, media, academia and the arts.

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