Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Matt Ridley, best-selling author of “The Rational Optimist”, discusses how rich countries can help the poor ones by identifying five “smart aid” priorities.
In September next year, the United Nations plans to choose a list of development goals for the world to meet by the year 2030. What aspirations should it set for this global campaign to improve the lot of the poor, and how should it choose them? Matt argues that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his advisers need an objective way of paring down an otherwise lengthy list of global priorities.
Matt recommends Ban Ki-moon an “unlikely ally”: Bjørn Lomborg, founder the Copenhagen Consensus – an international think tank that tries to prioritise the world’s greatest challenges based on the impact that can be made. Bjørn has invented a useful method for “dispassionately but expertly” deciding how to spend limited funds on different priorities. Every four years, he gathers a group of leading economists to assess the best way to spend money on global development with a simple goal: to create a cost-benefit analysis for each policy and to rank them by their likely effectiveness.
Based on the work of the Copenhagen Consensus group, Matt lays out what his 2030 goals would look like:
- Reduce malnutrition
- Tackle malaria and tuberculosis
- Boost preprimary education
- Provide universal access to sexual and reproductive health
- Expand free trade
Matt argues that although these aren’t the world’s biggest problems, these are the problems for which each dollar spent on aid generates the most benefit.
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