Bill Gates has released his annual letter from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in which he speaks candidly about his work at the foundation and outlines what needs to be done in terms of global health and education.

“Throughout my careers in software and philanthropy—and in each of my annual letters—a recurring theme has been that innovation is the key to improving the world,” he writes. "When innovators work on urgent problems and deliver solutions to people in need, the results can be magical.

“The G20 conference itself was a microcosm of the challenges that leaders face, with the Eurozone crisis taking a lot of their time. I was impressed that the leaders took 90 minutes to discuss my report and related issues, and I hope they will set aside time for development when they meet in Mexico for next year’s summit.

“Following my presentation, a number of the leaders shared specific suggestions for addressing these issues. David Cameron said it would make his country’s leadership on giving .7 percent of gross domestic product by 2013 in tough times easier if more countries would do the same. I got the strong impression that the leaders themselves are very sympathetic to the case that aid budgets should not be cut even as governments reduce their spending. However, this will be possible only if their constituents understand that aid, which is less than 1 percent of the budget in most countries, has a significant impact on people’s lives. I have tried in this letter to make that case. Whether it’s fighting plant disease, treating people with AIDS, or getting a measles vaccine to a child in a remote area—modest investments in the poorest make a huge difference.

“Unfortunately, many people believe the opposite—that money spent on development is wasted, or that it doesn’t get lasting results. Melinda and I will spend a lot of time in the coming year explaining why they’re mistaken. The relatively small amount of money invested in development has changed the future prospects of billions of people—and it can do the same for billions more if we make the choice to continue investing in innovation. We will repeat that message over and over in our speeches and interviews, and on gatesfoundation.org and gatesnotes.com, because we are convinced that when people hear stories of the lives they’ve helped to improve, they want to do more, not less.”

To read the full letter, click here.

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