NEW YORK – Philanthropy is in a unique position to speed global change, but government action is necessary to implement it, Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said Wednesday.
“Philanthropy can often take risks,” said Gates, speaking at the Bloomberg Equality Summit. “They can try innovations that sometimes work and sometimes fail. They can look for new solutions. They can help us collect the data. But ultimately, it’s always up to government to scale up these innovations to create a change.”
Gates, whose foundation has donated more than $2 billion to fight the spread of COVID-19, said the development of the coronavirus vaccines is a prime example of how philanthropy and government policies can work together.
“Ultimately, it’s billions of dollars from the government that will pull that through and purchase it for Americans and people in low-income countries,” she said. “It’s always up to government, but I think philanthropy or private sector and civil society can always help lead the way.”
Though her foundation has donated billions toward reforms for education and the environment, Gates said government has the power to make permanent change. She said she found discussing those issues with the Trump administration “incredibly frustrating,” but appreciates the shift in policy from the Biden administration.
“I am very happy to see a new administration who’s not only taking the threat (of climate change) seriously, but also taking very bold and concrete actions,” she said. “That’s what we should expect as Americans.”
Gates also said she hopes that the Biden administration will establish an innovation fund dedicated to child care.
“We have a caregiving crisis and yet there are great ideas out there,” she said. “Those kinds of ideas need to be funded and come forward so that we can come up with new innovations in society when it comes to women and how much they’ve backslid in the pandemic.”