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When rocker and activist Bono spoke at a TED conference last month, he presented a series of facts to demonstrate a positive trend that he feels not enough people have recognized or are talking about.

“Facts, like people, want to be free,” says Bono, “and when they’re free, liberty is usually around the corner, even for the poorest of the poor.”

Since 2000, eight million more AIDS patients have received lifesaving antiretroviral drug therapy, the malarial death rate in eight counties in sub-Saharan Africa has been reduced by 75 percent, and every day 7,256 children under age five are saved from death. This is thanks to the efforts of people and the support of the Global Fund.

Bono says, “The number of people living in backbreaking, soul-crushing, extreme poverty has declined from 43 percent of the world’s population in 1990 to 33 percent by 2000. And then to 21 percent by 2010. Halved! It’s heart stopping! If you live on less than $1.25 a day, if you live in that kind of poverty, this is not just data. This is everything. This rapid transition is a route out of despair and into hope.”

On the trajectory Bono presented, by 2030 there will be zero people living on less than $1.25 per day. The challenge is to keep up the momentum. Some governments are eyeing cuts to programs like the Global Fund. Oil companies are fighting to keep secret what their payments to governments are for extracting oil.

Legislation is needed to ensure that some wealth remains to benefit populations in developing countries that are providing resources. Transparency is needed to fight corruption.

Bono and the ONE Campaign hope that what Bono calls “factivism” will catch on and spread. If people really believe that poverty could disappear in less than 20 years, the motivation to make it happen won’t wane.

“What the facts are telling us is that humanity’s long slow journey of equality is actually speeding up. Once you have this knowledge, you can’t unknow it. You can’t delete this data from your brain.”

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