Part of complete coverage on
Bono: Fight poverty to reach the 'Zero Zone'
March 17, 2013 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
- Bono called for more action to end poverty at the TED2013 Conference
- Michael Elliott: The gains the world has made in fighting poverty are in jeopardy
- Bono advocates for a "Zero Zone" where extreme poverty is eliminated by 2028
- Elliott: Join Bono in spreading "factivism" to make the world a more equal place
Editor's note: Michael Elliott is president and CEO of the ONE Campaign, a global advocacy organization co-founded by Bono that is dedicated to fighting extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. TED is a nonprofit dedicated to "ideas worth spreading," which it makes available through talks posted on its website.
(CNN) -- When Bono took the stage at the TED2013 Conference in Long Beach, California, the U2 front man told the audience he had embraced his "inner nerd." "Exit the rock star," Bono said, "Enter the evidence-based activist - the factivist."
The speech was a call to action. Extreme global poverty has already been cut in half over the past 20 years, from 43% in 1990 to 21% in 2010. Bono said that if the current trajectory can be continued, extreme poverty could be virtually eliminated by 2030.
TED.com: Bono: 8 talks that give me hope
There has been astonishing progress in other areas of human development. More than 8 million people are on life-saving antiretroviral drugs, compared with only 200,000 a decade ago. In eight sub-Saharan African countries, malaria deaths have been cut by 75%; the rate of child mortality for those under 5 is down by 2.65 million deaths a year since 2000.
That's all great news, but there are two things that should give us pause. First, not enough people have any idea of the successes in the fight against global diseases and poverty. "It drives me nuts," said Bono, "that most people don't seem to know this news."
TED.com: What does extreme poverty look like today?
Second, the gains the world has made are in jeopardy. They could be reversed with cuts to the budgets for vital institutions like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; they could be stopped in their tracks if the world allows corruption, inequality, apathy and inertia to dictate the pace -- or lack of it -- of progress.
TED.com: Do we need more worldwide development goals?
But if the world keeps the promises that it has made to itself to really fight extreme poverty and preventable disease, then nothing is impossible. Bono argued that if we used transparency -- which tackles corruption like nothing else -- and technology, we can get closer to the "Zero Zone," where extreme poverty is virtually eliminated by 2028. Then this generation would be what Nelson Mandela once challenged it to be: the "Great Generation" that did away with -- in Mandela's words, the "most awful offense against humanity" that extreme poverty represents.
TED.com: The quest to end poverty
Factivism, Bono said at TED2013, is a virtuous, data-based virus, and challenged his audience to "spread it, share it, pass it on ... by doing so, you will join us and countless others in what I truly believe is the greatest journey ever taken -- the ever-demanding journey of equality."
Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.
Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Michael Elliott.
Part of complete coverage on
May 18, 2013 -- Updated 0852 GMT (1652 HKT)
JR's "Inside Out" project pushes the boundary of creating more human interactions.
May 18, 2013 -- Updated 0057 GMT (0857 HKT)
With guest Rep. Keith Ellison, John Avlon, Margaret Hoover and Dean Obeidallah discuss the president's scandal trifecta, hope for immigration and what Jolie's revelation means for women.
May 17, 2013 -- Updated 1922 GMT (0322 HKT)
Roger Colinvaux says the IRS scandal is fundamentally about disclosure of donors, not tax-exempt status.
May 17, 2013 -- Updated 2057 GMT (0457 HKT)
Theater critic Kevin Williamson was kicked out of a play when he took the phone away from an audience member and threw it. He says it was worth it.
May 17, 2013 -- Updated 1556 GMT (2356 HKT)
Mike Downey says Los Angeles has well-funded but clueless sports teams.
May 17, 2013 -- Updated 1552 GMT (2352 HKT)
Grace Liu says It's time for some tiger cubs to approvingly roar for our strict and demanding parents
May 17, 2013 -- Updated 1157 GMT (1957 HKT)
Sens. Al Franken and Roger Wicker say we need a strong SEC to make sure credit ratings fraud doesn't bring down the economy again.
May 17, 2013 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
Alex Castellanos says Chris Matthews is wrong; the Washington controversies result from a government that is too big to control
May 17, 2013 -- Updated 1409 GMT (2209 HKT)
Gil Welch says women must not panic over Angelina Jolie's mastectomies: 99% of women don't carry the BRCA1 gene.
May 16, 2013 -- Updated 1425 GMT (2225 HKT)
LZ Granderson says instead of reducing the blood alcohol content threshold, how about enforcing existing laws better?
May 16, 2013 -- Updated 1514 GMT (2314 HKT)
Maia Goodell says the military should use civil legal remedies on sexual assault cases.
May 16, 2013 -- Updated 1050 GMT (1850 HKT)
Donna Brazile says the lack of transparency and due process at GOP-led hearings shows their true intent: to damage Clinton's presidential prospects and Obama's credibility.
May 17, 2013 -- Updated 1109 GMT (1909 HKT)
Laura Wexler says Angelina Jolie's openness about her mastectomy fits into a pattern of celebrities who have shared secrets and helped others
May 16, 2013 -- Updated 1737 GMT (0137 HKT)
Simon Tisdall says a gruesome video might further damage the already challenged reputation and credibility of the Syrian opposition.
May 16, 2013 -- Updated 1616 GMT (0016 HKT)
Rand Paul says firing the acting head of the agency isn't enough of a remedy to the abuses that endangered individual rights
May 15, 2013 -- Updated 2026 GMT (0426 HKT)
Michael Harley says to give Tesla Model S the "best" trophy is presumptuous - it is pioneering but not flawless
Today's five most popular stories