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COVID-19 may cause Gates Foundation to fall short on reaching ambitious 2030 goals

·Anchor, Editor-at-Large
·3 min read
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The effects from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has noticeably slowed the progress of the Gates Foundation on reaching its ambitious 2030 goals to achieve a better world. 

"Most goals have now been moved off track," Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman told Yahoo Finance ahead of the foundation releasing its annual Goalkeepers report. The Gates Foundation — the largest private foundation in the world — is co-chaired by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his former wife Melinda French Gates.

The Goalkeepers overview is akin to an annual report card for the foundation on attaining its 17 goals that were set in 2015, well before the pandemic. They include meaningfully improving financial inclusion for the poor, increasing access to sanitation in emerging countries, ending climate change and eradicating extreme poverty for all people everywhere.  

But with the pandemic causing everything from decreased mobility to financial hardship for many countries to revised family structures, it will likely take beyond 2030 for the Gates Foundation to reach its objectives. 

For instance, this year's report highlights a sharp slowdown in stomping out extreme poverty. 

"The pandemic and resulting economic crises have reversed progress on eliminating poverty by four years. In places where extreme poverty, epidemic waves, economic challenges, and demographic factors continue to persist, we expect poverty reduction to stall at near current levels in the years ahead," the report acknowledges.

SEATTLE, WA - MAY 04: The exterior of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is seen on May 4, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. Bill Gates and Melinda Gates announced their divorce yesterday, raising questions about the future of their foundation. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
The exterior of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is seen on May 4, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Meantime, the report points out the pandemic has disrupted vaccinations globally for deadly diseases not associated with COVID-19. 

"COVID-19 has led to major disruptions for vaccines and other lifesaving health services. Many immunization programs face the challenge of catching up on missed child vaccinations while also rolling out COVID-19 vaccines," the report says.

Explains Suzman, "This set of ambitious goals from everything from financial inclusion, to access to sanitation, to the poverty eradication, to improvements in education — currently, nearly all of those are either stagnant, or somewhat you're off track or on a worst trajectory than they were before. And so we need an acceleration."

In this year's report, Bill and Melinda French Gates advocate for increased investment in health care systems, education and women in an effort to improve the world in the years ahead. 

The pair is hopeful that the foundation will get back on track with its 2030 goals. 

"It has been a year that has reinforced our belief that progress is possible but not inevitable. The effort we put in matters a great deal. And, as impatient optimists, we believe we can begin to learn from the successes and failures of the pandemic so far. If we can expand upon the best of what we’ve seen these past 18 months, we can finally put the pandemic behind us and once again accelerate progress in addressing fundamental issues like health, hunger, and climate change," Bill and Melinda French Gates write.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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