I’m in New York today, and it’s been a really busy week here on the global development front ---  with Bill Gates and other leaders addressing a UN special session on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convening leaders across government, industry, and civil society to chart plans to address global challenges.  Bill’s speech focused on how corporations must step up to address the problems of the world’s most needy citizens, so that every individual can live a healthy and productive life. 

 

As we all know, we’re facing some very tough times ahead.  At the UN this week, much of the conversation was about how developing countries will be impacted by the current financial crisis.  We in the United States are reeling from it – but as we’ve seen in so many cases, when the U.S. sneezes, the world gets a cold.  This crisis affects the entire world, and those who are most vulnerable will feel it most.   It’s a sobering time, but also one that challenges all of us – especially those of us in industry – to step up.

 

On this score, I had the privilege of representing Microsoft today at CGI.   One of the exciting things for me about CGI is seeing what colleagues in industry are doing -- many are harnessing their employees’ creative talents and the strengths of the brands they’ve built to help solve really tough problems.    I have to say I’m really proud of what Microsoft is doing here.  Something I’m particularly passionate about is the company’s commitment to utilize our technology strengths to improve education -- a cornerstone of development – in underserved areas worldwide.   Teachers are the foundation for success here, which is why today at CGI we renewed Microsoft’s commitment to bring the power of technology to teachers through our Partners in Learning program.   Over the next 5 years, we will continue to scale our teacher training efforts in over 100 countries and will expand our curricula in three important areas:   basic digital literacy skills, the know-how to integrate technology into teaching, and building teachers’ capacity to share their knowledge with other educators in the community. 

 

This week was also a good reminder of the fact that no single group of stakeholders can address the world’s growing challenges alone.  Earlier this week in Washington, D.C., Microsoft hosted its second Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for Development Conference.  This brought together top government agencies, NGOs, inter-governmental organizations, and private sector companies to discuss how critical issues and services – like education, environmental sustainability, disaster preparedness, financial services, and healthcare delivery -- can be revolutionized through ICT.  If we work together to get this right, I believe we can make great strides in helping empower the developing world and more effectively meeting the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

 

Finally, speaking of the MDGs, I’m also really proud of what Microsoft is doing to help meet these eight ambitious – and critical – goals. We’ve put together a white paper that looks at Microsoft’s progress toward the Millennium Development Goals in more detail.

 

Bottom line:  The times ahead are challenging – possibly some of the toughest we’ve ever faced. But the work I’m seeing to address the challenges – and the way people and organizations are coming together -- is inspiring.  Now, more than ever, we have to keep at it!

 

 

Thank you,

Pamela Passman, Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Global Corporate Affairs, Microsoft