“Neither objective will be achieved”

In 2015, leaders of 193 countries agreed on the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030: the SDGs, a roadmap that seeks to improve people’s quality of life, but without leaving anyone behind. Among the ambitious objectives: the eradication of poverty, the fight against climate change, education, equality for women, the protection of the environment or the design of our cities.

According to Bill Gates, the itinerary was established, but it may remain a dead letter. In the annual report of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the American philanthropist is pessimistic about global welfare and climate change: “After seven years, the world is not on track to achieve any of these goals.”

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A report from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation tries to answer a difficult question, with numbers: “How is the world doing? His conclusion is that not very well.

In their analysis, the businessman and his wife choose the new challenges that the world has faced in recent years. “When development experts around the world established the SDGs seven years ago, they did not know that four years later a new virus would appear and affect the population, causing a pandemic that only happens once in a hundred years. They didn’t anticipate that wars would break out in Ukraine or Yemen, or that women’s rights would revert to what they were decades ago, from Afghanistan to the United States.

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Urging the two countries to find solutions, because, “in the current situation, we have to accelerate the rate of progress by five times to achieve most of our objectives, it may not be enough as some estimates do not yet take into account the impact of the pandemic. , not to mention the war in Ukraine or the food crisis created in Africa.

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Food crisis or equity in Africa

Regarding the food crisis in Africa, Gates is committed to investing in new technologies that allow these regions to produce the food they need: “The world should be generous and prevent people from going hungry, but in another sense, that doesn’t solve the problem. The broader goal. It should not just be giving more food aid. It should be ensuring that aid is not needed in the first place.”

Philanthropists highlight the possibilities offered by what they call “magic seeds,” products developed with new technologies that allow the cultivation of plants that are more resistant and adapted to hotter and drier climates. As an example, he points to the success of a project that his foundation began supporting in Africa 14 years ago and that has succeeded in producing maize in Kenya that has more grain than the classic varieties or new types of rice that are being promoted. produces in India and they take less time to grow. Also for the development of artificial intelligence models that will allow identifying the best crops for each area or predicting potential pests.

And so Gates reviews other important issues, such as the gender gap that exists and punishes women or the impact of the war in Ukraine.

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Human ingenuity

Reversible situation?

The data is bad, admit those responsible in their report, but “the actual situation could be worse.” Everything will depend on what countries and their populations put into it, because “it could be better, because what the numbers do not reflect is the potential of human ingenuity.”


Bill Gates in a file photo

Singh Neil / AFP

Gates gives an example, HIV: “Before the Sustainable Development Goals, there were the Millennium Development Goals, the MDGs, and one was to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS. At the time this seemed impossible, but thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of a coalition of lawyers, governments and others, we quickly accelerated progress. From 2000 to 2020, we saw a nearly 60% reduction in annual deaths.”

Because, according to him, “Human ingenuity can make our cautious estimates irrelevant and our boldest aspirations timid.”

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