Of all the ideas dreamt up to combat poverty, one of the most inspiring must surely be the one presented by Finland at a United Nations development summit in Mexico. The President of the country better known for mobile phones than soup kitchens has ingeniously suggested a global lottery to tackle the plight of the growing ranks of the world's poor. It will surely be the most constructive suggestion to come from the meeting at the luxurious beach resort of Monterrey. The developed world's approach to the less advantaged regions has generally been to do as little as possible. Multi-national corporations have tumbled in to take advantage of the Third World's cheap labour, but apart from providing employment and paying meagre wages, they generally do little to help impoverished economies. In many parts of the world, the gap between rich and poor is widening. This is most noticeable in nations with unstable governments or corruption-riddled societies. Unfortunately, it is also a trend as evident among countries as it is within them. Repeated calls for help were heard during the two-day UN International Conference on Financing for Development. They came from every quarter and from as speakers as diverse as UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Cuba's President Fidel Castro. But too often, such gatherings are nothing more than talk-shops which achieve little. Lotteries are another thing. In the poorest countries, gamblers are as numerous as in the richer nations. The poor are as eager to get rich as the rich are to get wealthier. That is why Finnish President Tarja Hallonen's suggestion is so inspired. By aiming to tackle an endemic global problem globally, there is every chance of overwhelming success.