GAVI's Pledging Conference gets off to a flying start

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A number of public and private donors came forward with contributions to GAVI's life saving mission this evening, ahead of tomorrow's first GAVI Alliance pledging conference for immunisation

Pledging Kevin Rudd

Kevin Rudd, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Australia, announces Australia's increased donation to the GAVI Alliance during the opening reception in London. Source: Ben Fisher/GAVI/2011.

London, 12 June 2011 - More than 200 guests gathered at an opening reception where Andrew Mitchell, UK Secretary of State for International Development, joined guests including US philanthropist Bill Gates, human rights activist Bob Geldof and President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to underscore the power of immunisation to save lives.

This evening's pledges to GAVI include more than a three-fold increase in Australia's commitment to GAVI, which will reach AUS$ 200 million between 2011 and 2013. Announcing the news, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd thanked the UK for its leadership in convening the meeting in London and challenged other donors to beat Australia's pledge.

The UK Secretary of State told the audience of the UK's new £50m matching fund commitment. In response to this opportunity, two private sector groups immediately stepped forward:

In addition, "la Caixa", Spain's largest corporate foundation, received an award for its continued engagement in GAVI's mission. HRH Princess Cristina of Spain, and Director of the International Area of "la Caixa", recognised the efficiency and cost effectiveness of vaccines and highlighted the role that private sector contributors can play in funding immunisation programmes in developing countries.

Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announced that additional commitments to GAVI from "la Caixa" would be matched by the Gates Foundation.

Another encouraging engagement was voiced this evening by former CEO of MTV Networks Bill Roedy, who has recently joined the GAVI family to advocate for immunisation. Referring to the growing momentum around the power of vaccines Mr. Roedy said that "this is a snowball that's going to roll".

In concluding remarks, President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said: "I hope tomorrow we can walk away and say 4 million additional lives will be saved." Additional donors are expected to step up to the plate tomorrow morning when they all gather around the table to make firm commitments to raise at least US $3.7 billion dollars for GAVI's immunisation programme from 2011-2015. 

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