Gates Foundation Increases Budget to Rekindle Progress on SDGs

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman announced this week that the foundation will spend US$8.3 billion in 2023 to continue its work fighting poverty, disease, and inequity.

The Foundation says the budget – the largest in its history – is a response to multiple crises that threaten to stall or reverse global progress on the Sustainable Development Goals since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board of trustees’ approval of the budget puts the foundation on track to meet its commitment to reach an annual payout of US$9 billion by 2026—and represents a 15% increase over the 2022 forecasted payout.

“This is the toughest period for global health and development in recent memory, but in some ways, it’s also the reason we exist,” Suzman wrote in his annual letter published Monday.

“To help meet the great needs ahead, we are doubling down on our commitment to our core mission: ensuring everyone can live a healthy and productive life,” he said.

People in low- and middle-income countries, particularly women and girls, are facing the severe consequences of intersecting global crises, yet the world has so far failed to step up with the necessary political will and resources to respond.

Using examples from the foundation’s work on climate adaptation, malaria, and U.S. education, he detailed how the foundation catalyzes and advocates for solutions, brings diverse voices to decision-making tables, and fills market gaps.

“The foundation doesn’t set the world’s agenda—we respond to it,” Suzman claimed, referencing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

From improving vaccination rates to advancing women’s economic power, the foundation plans to use its funds, expertise, relationships, and voice where “it can make the biggest impact measured in lives saved and opportunities created for all to reach their full potential.”

It does so by funding innovations that may not be financially attractive or feasible for the private sector or governments, stepping in where markets fail, and investing in R&D that would otherwise never leave the lab, according to the CEO.

“Our role is to ensure that decision-makers—be they school board members or cassava growers or health ministers—have the best possible options to choose from and the best possible data to inform their decisions,” Suzman wrote on his annual letter.