Foreign Policy Blogs

Investing Gates's Money

The LA Times seems to have appointed itself the official Gates Foundation watchdog. Last week they printed a scathing report on the negative effects of the investments the Foundation makes with its endowment funds. To give you the flavor of what it says:

“The Gates Foundation has poured $218 million into polio and measles immunization and research worldwide, including in the Niger Delta. At the same time that the foundation is funding inoculations to protect health, The Times found, it has invested $423 million in Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and Total of France ‚ the companies responsible for most of the flares blanketing the delta with pollution, beyond anything permitted in the United States or Europe.”

This is sad, not unexpected, but sad. A smaller foundation investing in less-than-ethical companies would be identified as hypocrits, but with tens of billions to invest the Gates Foundation can really muck things up if it isn't careful. It's big enough to face the same consistency questions that the major government donors face with their foreign policies. But Gates has the luxury that it doesn't have to balance national interest or domestic politics with development goals. They should be able to change their investment strategies quickly.



Kevin Dean

Kevin Dean is a graduate student pursuing a master's degree in international conflict management and humanitarian emergencies at Georgetown University. Before returning to school in Fall 2006, he spent six years working in the former Soviet Union - most of that time spent in Central Asia. He has managed a diverse range of international development programs for the US State Department and USAID. He has also consulted for several UN agencies and international NGOs, and is fluent in Russian. Kevin is originally from Des Moines, Iowa and studied Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Iowa.