Today, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was another one of those TED franchise talks.
For this latest spin-off of the popular by-invitation-only main TED talks, this one known as a TEDxChange, Melinda Gates hosted a talk given in Seattle and webcast online on positive disruption – on challenging time-worn assumptions, prompting creative solutions to entrenched problems and inspiring even the most disenfranchised to recognize their personal power.
Speakers included a clever young poet from Nigeria, a theologian who claimed it was progress for the Catholic Church to officially consider the possibility that condoms are not immoral, a social media expert who claimed social media is changing the world, journalist Roger Thurow (an expert on hunger and agriculture in Africa) and an inspiring young woman Melinda met on a trip to Niger.
Like most TED talks, it was fun with a lot of broad and encouraging statements without too many complicating details. The webcast itself was ‘negatively disrupted’ (lots of jokes on Twitter about this) when the TED live stream dropped just as Melinda was making her opening statements. It was restored minutes later.
Of all the featured speakers, there may be no better examples of positive disruptors than 14-year-old Sikha Patra and 15-year-old Salim Shekh,along with their revolutionary Bengali community activist and mentor Amlan Ganguly. Salim and Sikha spoke with Melinda at the event. I talked with them earlier. Continue reading →
Bono loves data and said so in his February TED talk, which was recently released in video. He says the promise of ending extreme poverty turns him on.
“If the trajectory continues we get to the ‘zero zone.’ For number crunchers like us, that is the erogenous zone,” says Bono. “And it’s fair to say, by now, that I am sexually aroused by the collating of data.”
Extreme poverty has been halved from 43% of the world in 1990 to 21% by 2000. The current trends show that extreme poverty could end by 2030, say the World Bank, ONE and CGD.
“Environmental inaction, especially regarding climate change, has the potential to halt or even reverse human development progress. The number of people in extreme poverty could increase by up to 3 billion by 2050 unless environmental disasters are averted by co-ordinated global action,” says the report. Continue reading →
One reason I’ve never been asked to talk at a TED conference may be due to the fact that I regularly make fun of the talkfest as a gathering of the self-important furthering the mind-melting trend of sound-bite philosophy. Or maybe it’s because I have little to offer, even as a sound bite.
Pallotta starts out by castigating the popular notion that we should abandon typical charitable or humanitarian efforts in favor of more socially attuned business enterprises. The reality, he says, is the marketplace will always neglect the poorest of the poor. Trying to fool ourselves into believing that a more perfect market strategy will make charity unnecessary is wrong.
Trying to force charites to take on the typical business mindset is equally wrong-headed and will only serve to further undermine humanitarian endeavors, Pallotta says.
“You can’t monetize love and compassion.” But, as he explains, we can still do it better.
And it reduces poverty. Studies show that better health, reduced child mortality and the consequent reduction in birth rates also leads to economic growth in poor communities.
That last point — about how saving kids’ lives also reduces population growth and increases family incomes — may seem counter-intuitive to some, especially all you Malthusians, but it makes sense of you think about it.
Most poor families have kids to help out on the farm and have, say, ten because five will die. If kids stop dying, families have fewer kids. It’s a documented phenomenon worldwide.
So holy cow! What a three- or four-for-one deal this family planning could be for us!
Yet it appears hardly anybody in the media paid much attention.
AllAfrica.com ran an op-ed from Melinda and my former Seattle PI colleague Joel Connelly wrote about it as well — from the perspective of a devout Catholic (like Melinda) who thinks his church is missing the boat when it comes to contraception and family planning.
The aid and development blogosphere also covered Gates’ talk, such as at UN Dispatch — which noted how poorly the international community is doing on this front — and the PSI blog Healthy Lives. I watched the TED talk but didn’t write about it. Mea culpa. But I have written about Melinda’s message on this front many times before.
I’m curious to know if, as it appears by doing a Google news search, the mainstream media almost totally ignored the talk. And why?
Melinda Gates took questions today from journalists about her upcoming TEDxChange presentation next week aimed at increasing awareness of and support for the Millennium Development Goals.
“We’re inspired by the progress in global health and development since the MDGs were ratified 10 years ago,” Gates said. “Child mortality has dropped … polio is almost eradicated … MDG 1 is on track to cut poverty in half ….”
If you don’t know what the Millennium Development Goals are, you’re not alone. Most Americans are clearly unaware of these goals that were set in 2000 by the UN aimed at reducing poverty and improving health. We have until 2015 to achieve them, some of which are possible — and some which likely are not. Continue reading →