Bill Gates said Wednesday he would donate $20 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to address "huge global setbacks" facing the world.
Gates said in a statement that the foundation, which he created with his ex-wife, Melinda French Gates, in 2000, now seeks to spend $9 billion a year to fund innovations and causes that prevent pandemics, reduce childhood deaths, eradicate diseases, tackle climate change and achieve gender equality.
"These innovations will not come in time to avoid the problems altogether, but the faster we move, the less people will suffer," Gates said. "For many people including myself this is the most concrete way of contributing, even when it seems modest compared to the scale of the problems. Focusing on being part of the solution is better than giving up in despair."
Until Wednesday, the foundation's largest donor had been Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett, whose combined contributions have totaled $35.7 billion.
The Gateses announced their divorce last year. As part of the dissolution, each pledged to donate $15 billion to the foundation. Melinda French Gates now oversees her own investment and business incubation company, Pivotal Ventures.
“Bill and Melinda are fully committed to continuing to work constructively together at the Foundation to advance its program and policy objectives,” a spokesperson said in a statement first reported by Bloomberg.
Gates has been the subject of several unfounded claims surrounding the pandemic and, more recently, the national baby formula shortage.
With a net worth of $114 billion, he ranks as the fourth-wealthiest person in the world, according to Bloomberg. Gates said Wednesday that he plans to move off the world's richest list one day.
"My giving this money is not a sacrifice at all," he said. "I feel privileged to be involved in tackling these great challenges, I enjoy the work, and I believe I have an obligation to return my resources to society in ways that have the greatest impact for improving lives. I hope others in positions of great wealth and privilege will step up in this moment too."