As he has every year since 2009, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has put his thoughts about the scourge of extreme poverty and the efforts of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world's largest, to improve the lives of millions around the globe into a letter and posted it to the foundation's Web site.
In addition to outlining the foundation's key priorities in 2012, this year's letter focuses on the need for continued investments in innovations -- agricultural and otherwise -- that are accelerating progress against poverty in the developing world. Or as Gates puts it in the letter's opening section:
The world faces a clear choice. If we invest relatively modest amounts, many more poor farmers will be able to feed their families. If we don't, one in seven people will continue living needlessly on the edge of starvation. My annual letter this year is an argument for making the choice to keep on helping extremely poor people build self-sufficiency.
My concern is not only about farming; it applies to all the areas of global development and global health in which we work. Using the latest tools -- seeds, vaccines, AIDS drugs, and contraceptives, for example -- we have made impressive progress. However, if we don't make these success stories widely known, we won’t generate the funding commitments needed to maintain progress and save lives. At stake are the future prospects of one billion human beings....
To read or download the letter (which is available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, and Spanish), click here.