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Staying Committed to Development

If the world comes together on a plan for financing development, the impact on health and development will be enormous.
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Last week I traveled through Europe to convey one message: The money governments invest in development is saving millions of lives, and improving hundreds of millions. The most important thing we can do now is build on that progress and continue working toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

To do that, we need more funding and new sources of funding.

Over the following months, at the request of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, I'll be writing a report looking at how we can find more money for poor countries and those most in need, especially in these tough budgetary times.

I'll deliver the report to the Heads of States and Governments at the G20 Summit this November. I'm honored to have this opportunity.

In Paris, I talked with President Sarkozy about the report's focus, specifically:

  • For rich countries, how can they accelerate progress to meet their commitments to increase Official Development Assistance?
  • For emerging economies of the G20, how can they maximize their increasingly important economic role to improve overall health and development?
  • For developing countries, how can they continue to use their resources to have the greatest possible impact?

My report also will explore innovative financing -- ideas for new sources of funding that could contribute to more effective support for development and for managing climate change. As I look at these ideas, it's important that new funds add to the total pot of money, not substitute for current funding.

I'll look at proposals being discussed, like the financial transaction tax, and explore whether ideas that are working, like advance market commitments for vaccines, could be expanded to encourage more public and private sector R&D in priority areas. I'll also assess whether there are other good ideas that could make a significant contribution of new resources.

As I put together my report, I'll be talking with G20 members and other financial, economic and development experts. I'll have three principles in mind throughout. The first is total transparency around all types of investments. The second is rigorous assessment of the cost-effectiveness of interventions, so we know we're getting value for money. The third is impact evaluation, so we are clear about results and can learn lessons and improve.

One of the greatest accomplishments of the past 50 years -- the massive drop in the number of child deaths from 20 million children in 1960 to 8.1 million deaths last year -- is an example of the tremendous progress we've made, in large part, thanks to foreign assistance. If the world comes together on a plan for financing development, the impact on health and development will be enormous.

I'm motivated by the possibilities of achieving the MDGs and making faster progress on development over the next decade. It's why I'm looking forward to exploring ideas about financing for development. I can't wait to present them for consideration this November.

Bill Gates is the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He regularly posts his thoughts about the Foundation's work and other projects on his personal web site, The Gates Notes.

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