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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Wednesday's Connector: Bob Geldof

September 21st, 2010
12:27 PM ET

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/08/geldof.blog.jpg caption ="Bob Geldof is promoting One Young World in London."]

As world leaders gather at the United Nations to discuss ending world poverty, one music icon is adding his voice to the chorus demanding that more be done.

Irish singer Bob Geldof rose to fame with rock group The Boomtown Rats during the late 1970s, but it was his humanitarian and anti-poverty activism around the world that made him a household name.

Geldof co-wrote the 1984 international hit “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” bringing together some of the biggest names in pop music at the time to raise money for Ethiopia, which was in the grip of a famine. A year later, he organized "Live Aid," one of the largest charity concerts in history.

Twenty years later, Geldof put on the "Live 8" concerts in cities around the world to help draw attention to poverty in Africa and to galvanize world leaders to increase levels of aid to the continent.

This week finds Geldof at the U.N., where heads of state are discussing the Millennium Development Goals. Agreed upon a decade ago, signatories have set out to meet eight targets by 2015. They include halving extreme poverty and hunger, promoting gender equality and empowering women, and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV.

But with just five years to go, many of the Millennium Development Goals are not even on target to completion, much less met. Making matters worse, many donor countries are tightening purse-strings in the wake of large fiscal deficits, rising debts and the global economic crisis.

That’s where Geldof comes in. He brings to the conference a message that all nations – rich and poor – must do more if these goals are going to be met.

Geldof also co-founded the One Organization which aims to fight against extreme poverty.

Here's your chance to ask Bob Geldof a question about the Millennium Development Goals. What do you think needs to be done? What are the priorities where you live? What would you say, given the chance to address the U.N.?

Please leave your questions below.

soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Rosemarie McGraw

    No,Sir, Geldof,I am not at all interested to know howyou wereas a rock star. What makes me extremely dissapointed is your engagement for the poor Africans. Where has all that money gone??? Your own daugher is part of the gossip columns,wearing outrages expensive designer clothes... and all I get to see on TV is the miserable situation in almost every African country. ...Those famous Rockbands, Singers etc... are in my opinion using all those humanitarian Aids etc... to get their Rubel rolling, because of the good hearted intention of each one of them, whereas it serves them particularily to have us donators buy their CD's. Even now for Haiti, did I not spend one dime... since my trust in all those thousand different spend for Haiti organizations, hardly all the money gets there. Money is the most poisening Instrument in this world, and even good people get tempted to commit fraud because of this tremendous greed which omni present in this brutal world, where the rich get only richer, and vice versa..the poor even poorer... so be it!

    February 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Reply
  2. Andy Roo

    Sir Bob, along the same lines, Africa is so close to Europe, and many other prosperious countries, don't understand why there is not a constant food drop going on, or help going in. I am in Australia, so in our countries case it is a long way to go. But how do people sleep at night, when children are dying in a country only 100's of miles away. I have always thought that a child, children or a suffering family sould be brought out of a struggling country (very cearfully, and with all their interests in mind) and be photographed in say Monaco, where money is no object...to show how weak we are as humans. Selfishness is one of the greatest curses on society at present, and the media feeds on it daily. We as a planet need a reality check, these are real people, that are really suffering. There also will come a day when these countries do get back on their feet, and for us not to help in their time of need will be held against us, as it should.

    February 8, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Reply
  3. karlo

    rosemarie mc graw. wow, your comments makes a lot of sense. i tend to agree with you. all these years of donating and all i see in the world is more poverty.

    February 8, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Reply
  4. Tony Salieri

    Bob, Sir, painfully aware as I am that following your idealism has probably saddled you with understandable cynicism (not to mention gratuituous hate), I dare ask the most uncomfortable question: would you do it all over again, or would you side with the bewildered Rosemarie McGraw? I've lived through a couple of disasters, and can attest to the sad fact that good deeds do get sidetracked into bad fortunes. Me, I thank you most kindlly for your efforts... Sir!

    February 8, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Reply
  5. Sally from NZ

    Hi Sir geldolf,
    I know that it must be tough staying to idealistic in the face of so much poverty – how do you do it?

    February 8, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Reply
  6. nd

    I know first hand that you take huge appearance fees when promoting good causes. ...however...I do give you kudos for making this your life's work...so can actually forgive you the appearance fees..I work in international development and think that it is long overdue that global giving be included in official development assistance statistics...then the public can see the impact and hopefully lobby for their governments to give more...as well as for stricter accountability of unofficial global giving...a billion dollar industry by the way.

    February 8, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Reply
  7. Joshua

    Hi Bob,
    I've been a fan for a long long time. You've worn a lot of hats and taken on a lot of identities. Do you prefer to be recognized as an artist or a philanthropist?

    February 8, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Reply
  8. Greg

    Sir Bob, I for one am very impressed by your constant efforts to at least TRY to do some good. How does it make you feel when others such as those on this comment thread have such unbelievable cynicism that any attempt to do any good will always result in overall failure? Trying to fix an entire continent at once is an impossible task, obviously, and perhaps therefore expectations are too high – which leads to a second question, what else about the nature of Africa can be communicated to others, and how can we better set expectations of exactly what we can change and when? This is something that's much, much bigger than Live Aid – it will take a complete change in the political atmosphere and environment for the countries.

    February 8, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  9. Raul

    Mr. Bob Geldof,
    What do you think is the future of dictatorship states like Angola ? Is any hope that the truly democratic countries will put enough pressure to end corruption ?

    February 8, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Reply
  10. Robert

    There are some who believe, as individuals to bring real change to the world is rather difficult. There are others who say, by changing yourself you can change the world. What team are you on?

    February 8, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  11. Egill Atlason

    The EU is the biggest development donor in the world and has now set forward an additional 1 billion Euros. Do you think this will encourage other nations to fulfill or increase their donation without direct diplomatic confrontation from the EU.

    September 21, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Reply
  12. Keira


    Would like to ask Bob, who is in charge of supervising the money that goes into helping developing countries? With corruption running rampant in many countries, what assurance is there that money/food, etc is going to the people who actually need it?



    September 22, 2010 at 2:42 am | Reply
  13. Shelby

    Sir Bob Geldof,

    Given the opportunity to address the U.N. I would ask the question: would the forum for discussing the development goals not benefit from opening up the discussion to NGO's (and other relative grassroots organizations) to include the participation of their representatives. Therefore these discussions could include the participation of those who are on the front lines of delivering the initiatives which seek to achieve these goals. In so doing would this not then help to bring these types of discussions being conducted at the U.N. from being theoretical to being more piratical?

    September 22, 2010 at 5:02 am | Reply
  14. Christopher

    A few years ago, the Copenhagen Consensus, comprised of emminent economists, concluded that of the 30 specific solutions to address the world's problems, fighting childhood under-nutrition would be the single best investment, resulting in a return of $17 for every $1 spent in reduced healthcare spending and economic output. Given all the evidence of the importance of nutrition, why do so many actors in the development community fail to ensure that food aid does more than just meet caloric requirements?

    September 22, 2010 at 6:07 am | Reply
  15. Christopher

    According to the World Resources Institute, the private sector can play a crucial and innovative role in achieving the MDGs by developing business models aimed at addressing the needs the world's poor and treating them as consumers rather than aid recipients. Yet, the idea of profit, despite the good it good do, receives much backlash from the international development community. What are your thoughts?

    September 22, 2010 at 6:13 am | Reply
  16. Iain Foulds

    I submitted a proposal to Sir Bob Geldof via a senior financial executive of his proposed "8 miles" Organization, outlining an exciting option pertaining to "poverty alleviation" , which included job creation, food security etc. in Sub Saharan Africa. A viable alternative to the standard "dump aid and run" attitude so often adopted by the numerous International Aid Organisations dealing with the African situation, and who believe that they can solve the problems sitting in a high rise building somewhere in Central New York! I have never heard a word back, not even a 'thank you we received your letter and will be dealing with it in due course", which makes me think – Are the likes of Sir Bob Geldof genuine re their motives or is their a hidden agenda? As the numerous comments suggest – "Where is all this money going"? Is it lining the pockets of certain individuals in the numerous high rise buildings around the globe or alternatively, the pockets of the "crooked political elite" holed up in the Capital Cities of our Continent?Because it is certainly not reaching the rural poor as you are all led to believe! I was born in Africa and have lived here all my life. I have covered the vast majority of Sub Saharan Africa and know it like the back of my hand. Unfortunately I have got to know it in the incorrect manner and for all the wrong reasons -" by delivering food aid to the poor"! Would Sir Bob Geldof care to comment in his personal capacity and possibly take time out to contact me in person re my proposal, or is he, like most senior "Foundation" executives, too busy taking care of other issues? Iain

    September 22, 2010 at 7:11 am | Reply
  17. samantha g

    I admire your work and how you strive to achieve these things. I wish people who lecture you about how despite your efforts poverty is still an extreme issue these days would realise that you are just ONE man and people should stop pinning everything on you. You are right, because if everyone DID help then poverty could be solved. How do you deal with the people who give you stick about how you do all you possibly can but poverty is still an issue?
    P.S. I <3 the Boomtown Rats!!!

    September 22, 2010 at 8:14 am | Reply
  18. Jimbo

    I love you!!!! Marry me!!!!

    September 22, 2010 at 8:34 am | Reply
  19. Line Holm

    Hi Bob
    According to UN Facts, funding of reproductive and maternal health programmes have dwindled to one third the last ten years:
    Driven by fmr. pres. Bush and other conservative countries, funding to help women have access to contraception and safe abortions, was pretty much prohibited.
    Today, still 1.000 women (ONE THOUSAND) women die EACH DAY of pregnancy related diseases and heamorrhages.
    Organizations say this area (sexual health, reproductive health – MDG 5) is so surrounded by taboo and religious feelings, that nothing happens in term of progress.
    How can we turn this taboo and this unwillingness to talk about womens sexual health around?

    September 22, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Reply
  20. Chris from Dublin

    Dear Bob,
    In the 80's there was Band Aid, USA for Africa and positive songs about bringing people together from people like Michael Jackson. Do you think the world in missing that these days?

    September 22, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Reply
  21. AA

    Sir Geldof,
    Do you think that giving Aid is really helping to those who needs most. I think most of the aids donated are reaching to the hands of corrupt and authoritarian regimes in Africa. How could we sent aid to the countires ruled by dictators such as Isayas of Eritrea, Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Bashir of Suda. Those donators should make sure that the support should be riching to the people. If not, we are prolong their suffering.

    September 22, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Reply
  22. Jesper Petersen

    Dear Bo. Would you be kind to describe the effect the London-bombs 7th July 2005 had on the simultaneous campaign "Make debt history". A strong pressure was build up for weeks and put on the leaders at the G8-meeting in Scotland from the first day of this meeting, the 6th July. But the bombs in London moved the focus completely. How did you experience this sad event, please let me – and the public – know. Did the 7/7-bombs influence the outcome of the attempt to release 3th World contries from their unfair debtburdens created by banks and governments in the rich part of the world loyal to the motto of the past colonialists forced to retreat half a century ago: "Give them the parlaments, keep the banks!"?
    Send your answer to: Jesper Petersen, Søtorupvej 5, 4690 Haslev. denmark, email: esom@paradis.dk
    Thanks, and good luck with the good work.

    September 22, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Reply
  23. Madona from the Republic of Georgia

    Dear Bob,
    I think the whole mankind appreciates the work you do for its improvement. Thanks for everything one more time. For a long time your activity was aimed at supporting African victims of starvation. In 2010 the world championship in football made us believe that more or less this region would "breath easily" with the help of finances that were focused there. But after two months of the ending of championship the streets of South Africa were occupied by remonstrants, that complained that all the finances got in wrong hands and citizens and workers did not get any compensation.
    So, what do you think, which measures can be taken in order to solve this problem?

    September 22, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Reply
  24. Graham Binns

    Given the US and leading EU oranisations already contribute the majority of the fundings to achieve the millienium development goals and there is strain on the finances in these countries what should be done to encourage cash rich nations in the middleeast and asia to contribute more ?

    September 22, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Reply
  25. Barryc

    Bob, You will always have my admiration for what you tried with LIVE AID. It was a wonderful moment and you helped wake the world up. Thank you. Here's my question. Why don't you and Bono get honest with us and admit that capitalism is probably the major force in preventing the sharing of the world's resources. Countries like the US have a vested interest in solutions that involve their technologies and companies. Isn't it farcical to try and solve problems using only the profit motive as the driving force? I'm tired (as you probably are too) of band-aids and one off solutions that don't combat the raw power and creed of corporate and individual creed which is the main problem here. Any thoughts on that?

    September 22, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Reply
  26. R Jones

    I'm very skeptical of "non-profit" organizations because when I visit their websites or offices I see their employees and directors often have the best furniture, top of the range salaries and drive top of the range beemers and mercs. Why can't they just drive a Hyundai, buy IKEA flatpack and make do with an average wage? For this reason, I am reluctant to toss money into their pots unless – like MSF- they can show at least 80% of what they collect reaches their clients in the developing world.
    Is there any way the UN can oblige charities to adhere to strict guidelines regarding the assets they obtain so that more of our donation reaches the developing countries?

    September 22, 2010 at 7:09 pm | Reply
  27. Bert Kerkhof

    How ever can we diminish poverty when un only favors women, children and not the work shoes.

    A father

    September 22, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Reply
  28. Adelchi

    Thank you.

    September 22, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Reply
  29. derek brandon

    I grew up in the same town as you Bob and knew of you when you were a wannabe Mick Jagger! I'd just like to say that most likely, people who critisize you and your work are doing less than you to help make the world a better place. Not many people would give up everything to fight for something like this. Keep up the good work please. The world needs selfless people like you to encourage selfish leaders to do better.

    September 22, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Reply
  30. Colleen King

    We are a group of friends selling bottled water in New Zealand on small scale. 100% of profits are to build wells for villages throughout the world, where needed, not just in Africa. As you know the impact of a well can be enormous to a village and we are motivated by this. (1) We're struggling to raise our profile with little funding (although we have very passionate supporters), what can you suggest and (2) how do we choose the organistion to install the wells, .. there are so many.. we particularly like 'drop in the bucket', but if we choose an international organisation not all the money goes to the village... where do we start? We've know we've got what it takes to make this work but we're still struggling in the starting blocks!

    September 22, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Reply
  31. David Taylor

    You have done a lot of good. It seems you have a good heart. Will you be taking Tiger Lilly to her grandmothers funeral?

    September 22, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Reply
  32. Nicholas Bolton

    Although there have been successes in Africa in the 30 years since you have taken up the cause to end poverty on that continent, there are many who feel that real, meaningful progress continues to elude the population. Judging from the images of poverty we continue to see, this assessment is correct.

    What is your take on this perspective? Is it pessimistic, on target, or a bit of both?

    September 23, 2010 at 1:33 am | Reply
  33. Dante

    What Bob Geldof has done is way much laudable than what the politicians,
    World Bank and U.N. has.

    September 23, 2010 at 1:56 am | Reply
  34. Michael Burke

    Mr. Geldof,

    First, thank you for being the voice of truth for humanity and making a real difference.

    Would you, Sir, please lend your ear and your voice to Mr. John Searl ( http://johnsearlstory.com/ ).

    This is a true humanitarian who, like you, has a vision and a plan which can change the course humanity.

    Please, make contact with the people for the sake of all of us.

    Kindly, with eternal gratitude.

    Michael Reno Burke

    September 23, 2010 at 2:00 am | Reply
  35. Chris Conrad

    Sir Bob, is there any way we can make the corporations and thier partners give more % of their profits per annum in EMERGENCY aid to the starving? Since we have govt. tax for example, can there be an emergency tax system set up whereby those who are raking it in (laughing all the way to the bank) be taxed this way? Distribution of wealth is key in my opinion. Getting the layman to donate his meager earnings does help but nothing in comparison with what the filthy rich can assist if they are made to. Call it Emergency Humanitarian tax maybe?

    September 23, 2010 at 4:23 am | Reply
  36. observer

    Sir Bob, how do you feel now that Michael Hutchence mother is dead, and you did not do enough to help her really get to know Tiger Lilly. Also, I would like to know how you can worry about life in other countries, while one of your children sluts about all over the place. I don't think you have really done anything worthwhile. Maybe you should admit that you had a one hit wonder and nothing more. I wonder how much time you actually spend with your children. Sorry if this seems harsh, but I am sick of seeing your daughters all over the place dressed like whores.

    September 23, 2010 at 5:09 am | Reply
  37. Gordon MacLeod

    Dear Bob,
    At present Africa is bidding, with Australia, to host the World's largest, and most sophisticated, radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (www.ska.ac.za). This telscope will require ultra-high speed internet across 9 African countries and the world's fastest super computer situated on the continent. The ICT alone will greatly impact economically the continent. This ICT will also be used for remote climate change sensing and a host of other much needed services.
    We have already demonstrated our ability to host this telescope and shown we have an excellent site for it. Would you support such an initiative and be able to add your voice to ours to encourage World leaders to select Africa to host it?

    September 23, 2010 at 5:13 am | Reply
  38. Wendy

    Thank Bob for working so hard for so long to keep people from starving to death.


    September 23, 2010 at 5:16 am | Reply
  39. Geoffmag

    Mr Geldolf, a large portion of your efforts has been focused on debt relief which is almost certainaly needed however in the end forgiving a debt that was never going to paid anyway. Freed from the shackles immediat debt service borrowing begins afresh and the cycle repeats itself. I call it "Visa Card Syndrome" What can be done to keep developing countries from simply getting them selves into debt again?

    I would also like to know waht can be done to shift the paradigm from aid to investment?

    September 23, 2010 at 5:29 am | Reply
  40. Bisrat Daniel

    The unfinished everlasting miseries of poor people will continue weather donors like Bob geldof pour their selfless efforts unless something is done to stop the abuse and corruption which spreads like wildfire among the elites of African leaders.

    September 30, 2010 at 8:28 am | Reply
  41. connecttheworld.blogs.cnn.com

    Tuesdays connector bob geldof.. Bully 🙂

    April 17, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Reply

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