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G20 nations shouldn't cut back on funding development
Bill Gates Nov 4, 2011, 07.02am IST



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By Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation As the G20 meets in France, stabilising the global economy and creating jobs are rightly at the top of its agenda. A real risk, however, is that some of the policies key G20 members are considering would reduce aid and other investments in growth and development in the world's poorest countries.
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This would be a huge mistake, because this is precisely the moment when these countries are poised to accelerate the progress of the past decade and become rapidly expanding, stable partners in the global economy. This is the time to engage more deeply, across more areas and through exciting new partnerships. President Sarkozy invited me to present a report to G20 leaders on how to expand financing for development.

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I have presented some very concrete ideas about how to do this in a way that can speed up progress and innovation in areas like health and food security and making sound, long-term investments. One ground for optimism is that rapidly-growing countries like India have the potential to transform development, through their stunning ability to innovate. I believe innovation is the most powerful force for change in the world. People who are pessimistic about the future tend to extrapolate from the present in a straight line. But innovation fundamentally shifts the trajectory of development. For years, farmers in poor countries have lacked the tools to get the most out of their land, so their yields are very low compared to those in rich countries. But innovation can close that gap. A few months ago, I visited farmers in floodprone Bihar where crops are regularly wiped out by standing water. When I visited, they were planting a new variety of rice that has been bred to survive underwater. When rains came, the old variety was destroyed , while the new rice yielded more than double what the old variety did in a good harvest year. The demand for new seeds from this rice project has been higher than expected. In the next six years, our prediction is that 20 million farmers will plant the new variety. This is one example of the huge benefit of innovation in upstream research and development , and also in how to deliver these innovations to the people who can benefit most. But innovation has not played as big a role in development as it could have. Some innovations take hold in rich countries quickly but take decades to trickle down to poor countries. The pace of innovation specifically for the poor has been too slow. But I believe it can be sped up, and the rapidly-growing countries of the G20 are especially well-positioned to drive this improvement. One way countries like India can accelerate the course of development is by forging innovative partnerships with poor countries and using their unique experience and skills to help solve the toughest problems facing the poor. Having navigated the development process successfully, rapidlygrowing countries have a sophisticated understanding of what poor countries need and the technical capabilities to innovate to meet those needs. And this is already happening . The Serum Institute of India recently developed a vaccine for meningitis A, the first-ever vaccine created specifically for poor countries.
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http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-11-04/news/30359663_1_innovati... 01-12-2011

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