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Bill Gates gives foundation $20 billion to fight ‘huge global setbacks’

Bill Gates announced July 13 that he will donate $20 billion to his foundation so it can increase its annual spending on preventing future pandemics, reducing child deaths and curbing climate change, among other causes. (Markus Schreiber/AP)

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates pledged to transfer an additional $20 billion of his personal wealth to his philanthropic foundation, in an effort to support causes such as reducing child deaths, managing climate change and preventing future pandemics.

The funds mean the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, named after the billionaire and his ex-wife, will disburse $9 billion annually by 2026, up from about $6 billion today.

Gates said there have been several recent “huge global setbacks,” including the coronavirus pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and severe political division in the United States.

“The great crises of our time require all of us to do more,” he wrote in a lengthy blog post published Wednesday. Gates is the fourth-richest person in the world, with a net worth of $113 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Melinda French Gates is worth $10.3 billion, Bloomberg estimates.

The Gates Foundation is focused on developing drugs that can block respiratory infections, as well as widening the delivery of vaccine shots. Gates also said he was confident polio could be eradicated within four years. Smallpox, which global health officials declared eliminated in 1980, is the only disease to have been wholly erased.

The new resources will also support increasing food production in Africa, he said, transforming the continent from a net importer of food to a net exporter. The efforts could lessen deforestation and help the world better adapt to climate change, he wrote.

Other areas of focus include gender equality, education and green energy, he added.

The billionaire who cried pandemic

The Gates Foundation has spent nearly $80 billion since 2000 on causes that include combating malaria, HIV/AIDS and the coronavirus. Spending has risen sharply from about $1 billion annually. The foundation plans to disburse an additional $40 billion by 2026.

Gates noted that his foundation has been in large part supported by his mentor and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett, who has a net worth of about $97 billion, according to Bloomberg. As recently as last month, Buffett gave $3.1 billion to the foundation.

“Since 2006, Warren has gifted the foundation $35.7 billion,” Gates said. The real value of his donations tally up to about $45 billion because they include stocks that have appreciated.

Gates and French Gates have contributed $39 billion to their foundation and its previous iteration since 1994.

“As I look to the future, my plan is to give all my wealth to the foundation other than what I spend on myself and my family,” Gates said. “I will move down and eventually off of the list of the world’s richest people.”