Gates Foundation

On February 22, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation published its eighth annual letter, detailing global concerns and presenting goals for the foundation.

Energy and Time

Letters from previous years have included a variety of specific goals in the organization’s mission statement, ranging from disease prevention, economic improvement and resource distribution in developing countries. This year, the philanthropic duo is tackling two particularly salient topics: energy and time.

The annual letter’s structure is hinged on a conversation that took place at a high school in Kentucky. The students asked the co-founders: if you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Bill’s answer, “more energy,” falls in line with his decades-long work on climate change and clean energy solutions. In addition to elaborating upon his climate talk-spurred partnership, Breakthrough Energy Coalition, Bill highlights flaws and misconceptions about the world’s current carbon output data and the need for a zero greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the century.

He follows a blunt equation—Population (P) x Services (S) x Energy (E) x Carbon Dioxide (C) = CO2 (a necessary net zero)—with the solemn remark, “We need an energy miracle.”

Call for Youth Involvement

Piggybacking on a year of climate talks, international partnerships and private investments from big donors, the call falls upon open ears. The call is also directed towards the world’s youth.

His More Energy portion of the annual letter pleads for a multi-generational solution, rightfully acknowledging that the gears continue turning well into future years. He aligns with The Power Dialogue, a student-to-state forum held between student representatives and national leaders.

The event, which is sponsored by the Bard Center for Environmental Policy, took place on April 4, 2016, under the implementation of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

Women’s Rights and Global Poverty

Likewise, Melinda’s superpower, More Time, raises awareness around another turbulent issue: women’s rights residing at the core of global poverty.

She evaluates the theory of opportunity cost and underscores the issue of extreme gender inequality within poorer countries. “[What are] the other things women could be doing if they didn’t spend so much time on mundane tasks[?]” she speculates.

Her letter also foreshadows the focus of pop-culture front runners who, on March 7, signed an open letter to world leaders calling for the right to education, health and equal opportunity for women around the world.

Over 80 signatures, including comedians Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and prominent figures such as Sir Elton John and Oprah Winfrey, underline Melinda’s scrutiny of women’s participation in unpaid work, and the extreme gender gaps at home and abroad. “Once we see a norm,” she writes, “we can replace them with something better.”

The Gates’ Philanthropic Way

Bill and Melinda Gates, through the work of their foundation, governmental and private partnerships, continue to push the conversation forward toward a generation of world improvers. And their annual letter proves: you don’t need a super suit to do it.

Nora Harless

Photo: Wikipedia

ricePATH, formerly known as the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, is an international nonprofit organization that focuses on developing innovative, high-impact and low-cost health solutions in more than 70 countries.

PATH attempts to address a wide breadth of health problems ranging from vaccines for bird flu, to cheap ways to heal broken bones, to developing practical ways to purify water. The organization focuses to a large extent on collaboration. They develop health solutions with the communities that will use them, keeping them in contact with the specific needs of the people they serve. According to their website, PATH “infuses innovation and collaboration into those solutions to ensure they work in poor as well as rich countries.”

PATH began in Seattle, Washington in 1977 with the goal of implementing new contraceptives into poor countries that needed them but could not afford them. Now PATH has expanded to include all health issues in developing countries.

Today, the innovators at PATH now spend their time trying to figure out how to meet basic health needs. In the face of this daunting task, the secret to operations at PATH is their specific and autonomous projects.

PATH is organized project by project with small teams gearing solutions towards very specific health issues in specific communities. A large portion of PATH staffers also come from the for-profit community, making it easier for PATH to forge partnerships and deals with commercial companies which, according to PATH’s website, “…are a critical and unique element of our approach.”

One significant health technology developed by PATH is their Ultra Rice. Ultra Rice is made from combining rice flour with essential micronutrients and then molding the product into a rice shape. These new fortified rice grains are typically blended with normal white rice to fight malnutrition in poor communities. By addressing things like iron deficiency, vitamin A deficiency, folic acid deficiency and zinc deficiency, Ultra Rice gives children in developing countries the opportunity to grow into health adults and become productive members of their communities.

Ultra Rice is just one example of how PATH is using innovative technologies to transform the developing world. The organization’s work is important given that, in many communities, solvable health issues like malnutrition are the biggest obstacles to development. Innovations like Ultra Rice give these communities the ability to overcome obstacles and rise out of poverty.

– Martin Drake

Source: PATH, XConomy