Its been an interesting week in the news; first came the announcement that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, the two richest men in America who have already given over half their money to philanthropy (notably the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) have spent the last few months trying to convince fellow American billionaire businessmen to be as equally generous in their philanthropic pursuits.
They came up with ‘The Giving Pledge’ whereby to sign up a billionaire must commit at least half of their wealth to charity. Of the eighty Billionaires that they peer pressured into accepting the Giving Pledge, forty have agreed to give away half or over half of their wealth to a foundation, charity, or cause that resonates best with them. Hopefully these businessmen have the smarts to donate their money to organizations like Ashoka and the Skoll Foundation which are much more efficient in their ability to leverage more change for less money than traditional and sometimes wasteful NGOs and charities by investing in Social Enterprises instead.
The other major story in the news, at least here in Ecuador, is that rich nations have agreed to pay the Ecuadorian government 3.6 Billion dollars to not drill for oil in the Yasuni National Park. This is great news, firstly because the Yasuni National Park is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth and secondly because anyone here in Ecuador will remember how much the American oil giant Texaco raped and pillaged the Ecuadorian Amazon and its indigenous tribes in the north east of the country in the 70s and 80s (Ill expand on that in another post)
This is the first deal of its kind and sets a really good precedent for other poorer countries that are rich in natural resources to leave these ecologically important regions untouched in exchange for the compensation they rightfully deserve. Climate Change and the irreversible destruction of the environment is everyones problem even if the deforestation is happening on the other side of the world. These new initiatives by rich businessmen and rich countries to help out our neighbours bodes well for the future but much more needs to be done to reverse the destruction we have already wrought on our fragile world.