Last Monday I attended a TEDx Change event on the Millennium Development Goals in NYC. Speakers included Hans Rosling, Melinda Gates, Mechai Viravaidya (introduced as “Dr. Condom”), and Graca Machel. We were also treated to a performance by Sierra Leonian hip hop group Bajah + The Dry Eye Crew. Some highlights:

  • Hans Rosling stressed the need to update our concept of poverty, including how we analyze our statistics. We have made greater progress than we often realize in the last decade, even though we must remember that the 90s were a very difficult decade financially. And the progress that’s been made in developing countries has often been much, much faster given their starting points than what we saw in parts of Europe! Watch the video on the Gates Foundation website.
  • Melinda Gates gave a really interesting presentation about the importance of branding, comparing the marketing of the fight against poverty to that of Coca-cola. Coke stresses a better life in their ads. While many development programs stress the need to ‘avoid’ certain behaviors or conditions. Why not make development something sexy – something we strive for, she asked. She showed a clip of Wavin’ Flag, a remix of which Coke used for advertising during the World Cup earlier this year, which really communicates that aspirational vibe. (If you haven’t heard this song, check it out. It’s really catchy – I’ve been singing it for days).  Watch video of Melinda’s presentation on the Gates Foundation website.
  • Mechai Viravaidya is the founder of the Population and Community Development Association, and spoke about some really entertaining strategies he introduced to cut HIV/AIDS rates in Thailand, including: a Cops and Rubbers program (police hand out condoms on the street), Captain Condom (a superhero who promoted condom use). Efforts like these contriuted to a 90% drop in HIV/AIDS in his country. Watch his presentation on the Gates Foundation website.
  • Finally, we saw a performance by Bajah + The Dry Eye Crew. Check out the video on the Gates Foundation website.