Bill Gates in Landmark Address to UK Parliament on the importance of Eliminating Global Poverty

9th Jul 2010

In what has been hailed as a landmark meeting - Bill Gates*, co-trustee of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, met with UK Parliamentarians to discuss the critical issue of global food security.

During the private meeting with the APPG Agriculture and Food for Development Mr. Gates commended the UK for its continued global leadership in the field of International Development but also highlighted the not insignificant challenges which still lay ahead.

He stated: “I welcome the UK’s leadership on international development and its commitment to maintaining the nation’s promise to spend 0.7% of its Gross National Income on official development assistance, despite significant challenges to the British economy. I urge other donor nations, particularly those in the G8, to follow its lead.”

It is in this context that APPG Co-chair Lord Cameron of Dillington called on policy makers to act now and help the poorest people help themselves out of chronic hunger. He commented “With just five years left of the MDGs and with this Parliament set to sit until 2015, this Parliament truly is the Parliament of the MDGs –we must act now or face the unthinkable consequences of losing another generation to extreme poverty and chronic hunger”

The private meeting with the APPG on Agriculture and Food for Development took place in advance of a wider address to Parliamentarians in which Mr. Gates stated: “Aid over the last 50 years has achieved some phenomenal things…We wouldn’t be spending the money if it wasn’t something that I didn’t think was catalytic. We get smarter all the time, but the aid we’re spending really makes a huge difference.”

Sharing the platform with Mr. Gates, Rt. Hon Alan Duncan***, Minister of State for International Development echoed these sentiments by stating "We must do all we can to make the Millennium Development Goal Summit in September a renewal of all countries' commitments to the MDGs a reality.”

Alan Duncan concluded: "Britain is leading the way - and should be proud that it is the first and only country in the world to commit to spending 0.7% of its income on aid from 2013."

With just 5-years to go until the conclusion of the Millennium Development Goal’s and a special Summit convened in September by the UN General Assembly to track progress Mr. Gates outlined why 2010 must be a year of decisive action in terms of International Development, commenting “In the face of such challenging economic times, we must be even smarter about how resources are used and maintain our commitments to the world’s poor.”

Indeed great progress has already been made in areas such as reducing the proportion of people in chronic poverty by half, which is within reach for the world as a whole and; increasing access to clean water, with one point six billion people having gained access to safe drinking water since 1990, other areas are significantly off-track.

Yet despite this with just 5 years until the conclusion of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), many MDGs are off track and some are even moving in the wrong direction.

More people suffer from chronic hunger today than at any other time in history. MDG 1, to reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger, is so far off track that it is now moving in the wrong direction. To achieve MDG 1 - 115 million people must be lifted out of chronic hunger each and every year up until 2015 – and this would still only be half of the global problem. It is also estimated that the cost of this under-nutrition to the developing world is estimated to be some $20 – 30 billion per year.

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