The co-founder of software giant Microsoft turned philanthropist, Bill Gates, is sad, laments the direction the world is heading.
In a series of tweets, Gates lists what he calls “setbacks” over the past two years, as if to say that our world is regressing on so many issues.
“Several huge global setbacks over the past few years have left many people discouraged and wondering whether the world is destined to get worse,” the philanthropist posted on his account. “The pandemic is one of the biggest setbacks in history. The war on Ukraine is a gigantic tragedy for the entire world. The damage from climate change is already worse than most models predicted. The U.S. has taken a huge step backwards for gender equality and women’s health.”
If the tone and the subject are sad, Gates nevertheless says he is optimistic for the future. For example, he says he believes that it is possible to find the path to progress.
“But I’m still optimistic. These setbacks are happening in the context of two decades’ worth of historic progress and I believe it is possible to mitigate the damage and get back to the progress the world was making,” the entrepreneur said.
But to achieve this, he believes that we will all have to do more, starting with him. With this in mind, he has decided to transfer, this month, $20 billion of his personal fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help him carry out his missions, like preventing pandemics, reducing childhood deaths, eradicating diseases, improving food security and climate adaptation, achieving gender equality and improving educational outcomes.
“Melinda and I started the @gatesfoundation in 2000 because we believed that every person should have the chance to live a healthy and productive life. That vision remains the same, but the great crises of our time require all of us to do more,” Gates explained.
“With the support and guidance of our board, we plan to increase our spending from nearly $6 billion per year today to $9 billion per year by 2026. To help make this spending increase possible, I am transferring $20 billion to the foundation’s endowment this month.”
Bill Gates’ decision is likely to reassure those who wondered about the future of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation when the Gates couple announced their divorce last year. This $3 billion increase is substantial: Very few of the larger organizations spend that much money on their causes per year. Open Society Foundations, founded and backed by financier George Soros, for example spent $1.4 billion in 2020.
One of the consequences of the new donation is that Gates will plummet in the ranking of the richest people in the world. He currently ranks 4th with a fortune of $114 billion as of July 12, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index. If we remove the $20 billion that he will transfer to the foundation, Gates will drop to ninth place with a fortune of $96 billion just behind his friend Warren Buffett ($96.5 billion) who brings half of the funds held by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, says the philanthropist.
Elon Musk is the richest man in the world with a fortune of $214 billion, followed by Jeff Bezos ($133 billion).
Gates does not intend to stop. He announces that he will “virtually” give all his fortune to the foundation, which would have the consequence of removing him from the ranking of the richest people in the world. He does not give further details, in particular on the date on which he intends to transfer the rest of his fortune.
“As I look to the future, I plan to give virtually all of my wealth to the foundation. I will move down and eventually off of the list of the world’s richest people,” the entrepreneur said.
Gates is finally calling on other wealthy people to follow his example.
“I have an obligation to return my resources to society in ways that have the greatest impact for reducing suffering and improving lives. And I hope others in positions of great wealth and privilege will step up in this moment too.”