Gates urges G20 not to ignore poor as it tackles crisis

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Microsoft chairman and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates called on the world's top economies not to ignore the world's poorest countries as they confront Europe's financial crisis.

"I don't want to downplay in any way the importance of this crisis but I do think while we address that crisis we keep in mind the poorest countries," Gates said, before delivering a report to G20 leaders about anti-poverty measures.

"I'll remind people how important this is. How it's more than just economics, it's about saving children's lives," Gates, whose foundation has spent billions on aid efforts around the globe, told AFP.

His report to G20 leaders, whose countries account for 85 percent of the global economy, suggests how they can help accelerate the development of poor countries and their integration into the world economy.

Rapid development brings "both humanitarian and economic" benefits, he said, noting the immense progress made by China, India and Brazil over past decades.

The suggestions include harnessing innovation, tapping private resources, including savings of diaspora communities and sovereign wealth funds, better management of energy resources and effective taxation.

"These are all policy areas where they can make a huge difference and it is not all that costly," said Gates.

He emphasised that the G20 is an important forum for harnessing efforts to combat poverty as it includes emerging countries.

"It's not just their resources, although that will be important," said Gates.

"They have particular areas expertise ... every one of these countries has a way they can accelerate the development of poor countries."

© 2011 AFP

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