Bill Gates is a billionaire, philanthropist, and persistent champion in the global fight against extreme poverty. Since its founding in 2000, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated more than $40 billion toward eradicating extreme poverty.
This year, Gates was busy advocating for education, the environment, and sanitation for all, among other issues.
From giving money to schools to funding clean energy startups to promoting off-the-grid toilets, Gates was at the center of social good and innovation in 2018.
These are some of his most inspiring moments of the year.
1. Gave $1 Billion to Fight Malaria
Gates pledged $1 billion for the prevention and treatment of malaria at the Malaria Summit in London in April. The mosquito-borne disease affects more than 200 million people each year in nearly 100 countries, but imposes the heaviest social and economic burden on those living in poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Progress against malaria has stalled for the second year in a row, according to a recent report published by the WHO. There is still much work to be done to prevent Malaria and ensure all people have access to quality healthcare — luckily people like Gates are taking on this challenge.
2. Stood by Teachers Struggling to Pay for School Supplies
Bill and Melinda Gates amplified donations to DonorsChoose — a crowdfunding site that allows people around the world to help teachers purchase the supplies they need for their classrooms. The Gates contributed $1 for every $2 donation, which provided a major boost for teachers going back to school at the end of August, especially since 94% of US teachers surveyed reported paying for classroom supplies without reimbursement during the 2014-2015 school year.
Schools across the US often do not have enough funding to provide students with the resources they need to thrive in the classroom. With the pay gap at an all-time high, many female teachers especially cannot afford to cover the cost of books, art supplies, and learning materials.
This holiday season, teachers have shared 77,000 things they need to help their students learn. https://t.co/8osd7VWk4i— DonorsChoose (@DonorsChoose) December 10, 2018
3. Teamed Up with Ban Ki-moon to Fight Climate Change
Alongside former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Gates launched the Global Commission on Adaptation in September with the goal of bringing experts and citizens together to discuss solutions to climate change. The commission will support resiliency efforts such as water and flood management and smart agriculture in cities.
People living in poverty face the greatest challenges in the face of extreme climate events.
As storms, floods, and heatwaves become more frequent and dangerous around the world, communities must be equipped for adaptation. Moving toward a more sustainable, resilient future demands leadership from individuals like Gates and Ban, as well as everyday citizens taking action on behalf of the environment.
By 2050 over two-thirds of the world's population will live in #cities. To strengthen their ability to withstand #climate impacts, they must #AccelerateAdaptationhttps://t.co/CfQl7neF3Upic.twitter.com/Wra2Rrk4i6— Global Center on Adaptation (@GCAdaptation) November 27, 2018
4. Led Fund Investing $1 Billion in Clean Energy Startups
Gates also spearheaded Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), a fund that will invest $1 billion dollars into clean energy startups that could radically lower carbon emissions by experimenting with anything from hydropower to nuclear fusion. BEV's portfolio includes startups innovating in five sectors — electricity, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, and buildings.
By investing in alternative energy startups, Gates is investing in a better future for all people and the environment. More than 90% of children around the world breath toxic air every day, and those in low and middle-income countries are at the highest risk, according to the WHO.
5. Introduced the Toilet of the Future
Gates has been a long-time advocate for sanitation equity. But in November, he took this advocacy to the next level when he introduced the design for a new off-the-grid toilet while holding a jar of human poop, at the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Shanghai, China. Since the toilet relies on chemical treatment instead of sewage systems or waste infrastructure, it can operate just about anywhere — and could be a game-changer for urban and rural communities around the world that lack access to basic sanitation.
An estimated 2.3 billion people around the world still don't have access to basic sanitation facilities, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). People living in poverty often bear the health consequences of poor sanitation, which is linked to the spread of diseases and estimated to cause 280,000 diarrheal deaths per year.
There are few things I love talking about more than toilets. pic.twitter.com/rQdY3ZiIpC— Bill Gates (@BillGates) November 5, 2018
Disclosure: Bill Gates is the co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a funding partner of Global Citizen.
Editor's note: This piece has been updated to include a disclosure that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a funding partner of Global Citizen. We regret the oversight.