Posted on January 2, 2008
2007: International Development Paradigms Re-Examined
PND Special Issue: 2007: Year in Review - International Development Paradigms Re-Examined
As surging flows of capital, information, and people continued to shrink the globe in 2007, activists and social entrepreneurs, governments, and the media increasingly looked to philanthropy for solutions to the plight of hundreds of millions of desperately poor people in the developing world.
To address the global challenge of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation unveiled a number of partnerships with foreign governments. In February, the foundation and the government of Canada government pledged up to $139 million to the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative, a new effort to accelerate the development of an HIV/AIDS vaccine and address critical research gaps identified by the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise. The foundation followed that in November with a $50 million commitment to expand HIV-prevention programs in China in partnership with the Chinese government and nongovernmental organizations working there.
While the Gates Foundation has long been known for its efforts in the area of global health, it took on a new role within that arena in 2007. In October, the foundation convened its first major gathering of policy makers and technical experts to discuss malaria prevention — a meeting that concluded with Bill Gates calling for a new global commitment to eradicate the disease. "We have a real chance to build the partnerships, generate the political will, and develop the scientific breakthroughs we need to end this disease," said Gates. "We will not stop working until malaria is eradicated."
Microfinance, considered one of the few broadly successful strategies for aiding the poor in developing countries, continued to attract supporters (as well as skeptics) in 2007. In May, Citibank and SKS Microfinance, a ten-year-old Indian microfinance organization, announced a $44 million program through which Citibank India will purchase loans originated by SKS. And in November, the Grameen Foundation, acknowledging that transaction costs and inefficiency have been the Achilles' heel of microfinance, announced the Mifos Initiative — an open-source software project to develop customer tracking and accounting software that can be accessed through a Web browser or cell phone, potentially broadening the reach of lending to the poor.
There were more than a few times in 2007 when former President Bill Clinton seemed to dominate media coverage of philanthropy. In June, the William J. Clinton Foundation announced that it had received pledges of at least $100 million each from Canadian businessman Frank Giustra and Carlos Slim, chairman of Mexican conglomerate Grupo Carso, to implement the Clinton-Guistra Sustainable Growth Initiative, which will work to alleviate poverty and build sustainable local economies in developing countries. A few weeks later, the initiative received an additional $100 million pledge from Lundin for Africa, the philanthropic arm of the Canada-based Lundin Group, which has significant mining, oil, and gas interests on the continent.
Interest in the Clinton brand of philanthropy peaked in September at the third annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, which brought more than a thousand business, government, and NGO leaders — not to mention hundreds of members of the global press — to New York City for three days of discussion, networking, and good-faith promises to take action against poverty, climate change, and other pressing global challenges.
Perhaps no one summed up the remarkable developments of 2007 better, however, than Scottish billionaire Sir Tom Hunter, who pledged £1 billion (roughly $2 billion) for poverty alleviation efforts in the developing world and Britain and in so doing noted that "There is more great wealth in fewer hands today than ever before in history. My own personal belief is that with great wealth comes great responsibility. Therefore, you've got to take care of these things if wealth creation is still going to be seen as a positive force by the rest of the population."
Open-Source Software Initiative Could Broaden Reach of Microfinance Groups (11/25/07)
Bill and Melinda Gates Call for New Commitment to Eradicate Malaria (10/19/07)
Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria Raises $9.7 Billion but Falls Short of Goal (10/01/07)
Clinton Global Initiative Concludes With Record Level of Commitments (10/01/07)
Clinton Becomes 'Leading Brand' in Giving Industry (9/24/07)
Corporate Philanthropy Goes Global (8/24/07)
Scottish Billionaire Pledges £1 Billion for Charitable Efforts in Britain and Africa (7/20/07)
Lundin for Africa Pledges $100 Million to the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (7/10/07)
Clinton Foundation Establishes Sustainable Development Initiative in Latin America (6/25/07)
Dubai Ruler to Establish $10 Billion Foundation to Promote Education, Knowledge in Middle East (5/22/07)
SKS, Citibank Announce $44 Million Microfinance Program (5/15/07)
Canada, Gates Foundation Commit Up to $139 Million to HIV Research (2/23/07)