Obama’s U.S.-Africa Forum Will Catalyze $14 Billion In Business Deals – By Michael Bloomberg and Penny Pritzker
“Africa is no longer a sleeping giant but is awake and open for business.” These words from a rising South African leader at last week’s Young African Leaders Summit could not be more accurate: Africa might well be the biggest market opportunity in the global economy today, and U.S. companies cannot afford to miss out.
The Risky Business report, a bipartisan project backed by three former US Treasury secretaries, sets out estimates of the potential costs of problems such as flooding caused by rising temperatures and higher sea levels. Its aim is to move the debate in the US, which has become characterised by partisan divisions, into a more practical assessment by business and political leaders of how to manage the risks posed by climate change. The study looks only at the US, and only at potential costs, rather than possible solutions.
The project is chaired by Hank Paulson, who was Treasury secretary under President George W Bush; Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York; and Tom Steyer, the former hedge fund manager turned environmental campaigner.
So here’s a reality check. The shale gas boom is indeed lowering energy costs, creating new jobs, boosting domestic manufacturing and delivering some measurable environmental benefits as well. Unlike coal, natural gas produces minuscule amounts of such toxic air pollutants as sulfur dioxide and mercury when burned — so the transition from coal- to natural-gas-fired electricity generation is improving overall air quality, which improves public health. There’s also a potential climate benefit, since natural-gas-fired plants emit roughly half the carbon dioxide of coal-fired ones.
What if a city figured out how to capture wasted kinetic energy from cars and re-inject it into the electrical grid? Or if a city used high-tech auditory alerts that enabled the visually impaired to easily navigate city streets? Or if a city empowered citizens to direct their tax dollars into the specific programs that mattered most to them?
These are just a few of the 21 concepts that are finalists in an ideas competition, called Mayors Challenge Europe, that invited leaders of European cities to devise bold solutions to major urban problems. Winning cities will receive monetary awards, totaling €9 million, to help them implement their ideas.
Mr. Bloomberg, 72, said philanthropists should focus on areas where they can test an idea and then, armed with results, get government money to turn the idea into a program. The belief that better government was crucial to improving people’s lives was a hallmark of Mr. Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor — so much so that his critics often accused him of running a “nanny state.”
Bloomberg Philanthropies is scheduled Tuesday to announce a $5 million deal with LittleSun GmbH, the German company that makes Little Sun, a hand-held solar-powered lamp created by Berlin artist Olafur Eliasson and Copenhagen engineer Frederik Ottesen. It is the first such support lent by the foundation to a so-called social business.
The lamp, introduced two years ago at the Tate Modern museum in London, is intended for use in areas where electricity is scarce and the primary source of lighting is kerosene lamps. The device is available in eight sub-Saharan African countries. At $9 to $17 apiece, the device pays for itself in roughly six months, say Mr. Eliasson and Rohit Aggarwala, who is part of the environmental group at Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Grassroots organisations are to share in a multi-million dollar project to improve family planning and reproductive health services for women and girls in Africa and Latin America.
Groups in Uganda, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Nicaragua will be able to apply for advocacy grants as part of a three-pillar, $50m (£30m) package to support family planning services. The scheme was announced on Thursday by Bloomberg Philanthropies, set up by Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York.
Here in Providence, where more than 85 percent of public school students are eligible for federally subsidized lunches and two-thirds of public school kindergartners are behind in recognizing basic language sounds or identifying letters in print, officials see Providence Talks as just one part of a larger educational strategy. It is being funded by a $5 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, and officials hope that they can eventually secure some public funding.
With $452 million distributed in 2013, Bloomberg Philanthropies is among the largest foundations in the United States, but it distinguishes itself by acting as its namesake, Michael Bloomberg, does–with sophisticated, data-driven solutions for every step of the process, from identifying priorities to monitoring progress to scaling pragmatic solutions.
In launching a program to provide child care, a playpen—or both—to some 80,000 Bangladeshi children ages 1 to 4, the foundation is pursuing a low-cost solution that could be scaled up after a two-year trial. The idea came from program officers currently working on another Bloomberg project to reduce tobacco use in Bangladesh.
The Bloomberg project to “save the oceans and feed the world” is called the Vibrant Oceans Initiative. Over the next five years, Bloomberg Philanthropies is going to dole out $53 million to three organizations to fund specific fisheries reforms in Brazil, Chile, and the Philippines. The three organizations—Oceana, Rare, and EKO Asset Management—are all based in the U.S.
Michael Bloomberg’s fondness for fish is already well known thanks to the luminous tropical fish tanks that dot the offices of the billionaire’s sprawling global media empire.
The former New York City mayor is about to go a step further, however, with a $53m grant from his Bloomberg Philanthropies foundation to combat the chronic overfishing some experts say is threatening the world’s fish supply.