As impatient optimists, one question we constantly come back to at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is: What’s Next? And we don’t just ask the question, we try to answer it. That’s because however much progress the world makes, whatever achievements are celebrated, we remain relentless in our pursuit of a world where every person can lead a healthy, productive life.
The hard truth is, the world isn’t going to achieve its health and development goals by doing the same things the same way. Progress on the scale the global community has set itself requires alternative approaches, innovative investments, original ideas, scientific discoveries and technological advances.
In 2019, our foundation played a part in some remarkable breakthroughs, which promise that what comes next in health, gender equality, agricultural development and education in the United States will save millions of lives and empower countless communities around the world in 2020 and beyond. This is a showcase of progress in just four of the many issues we work on: global health financing, gender equality, agricultural development and U.S. education.
More children and young people will survive and thrive thanks to billions of dollars raised to combat infectious diseases that hit the poorest hardest; more women and girls can transform their lives as barriers to economic participation are removed; new crops that can withstand heat, floods and drought will help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change; and students and parents in America can start to make better judgments on the value of going to college.
As I prepare to step down as Chief Executive Officer, it is a moment to reflect on how this—and much, much more—is accomplished thanks to the foundation’s committed staff working every day with our dedicated partners and grantees. It is a great joy to work alongside so many dedicated, talented people, who bring energy, expertise and excellence to some of the world’s toughest challenges.
At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we believe that all lives have equal value. That means that they not only have equal worth, but equal potential. And that’s why we are committed to doing everything we can to unleash that potential. I might not be leading the foundation through 2020, but I can’t wait to see What’s Next.
—Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann
CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation