The Opportunity: A once-in-a-generation chance to set a vision for the future
Over the next year, the UN will be determining what replaces the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The final list, due in September 2015, will set development priorities for the next 15 years and cover the world’s biggest problems: poverty, health and more. The goals will influence a large part of $2.5 trillion in foreign aid, government spending and philanthropic resource. This represents a great 1-in-15 year opportunity to set priorities that will lead to enormous positive change by 2030.
Overall, the original MDGs were quite successful with several targets reached on or ahead of time. Part of this is attributable to the simplicity of the goals - 18 targets set out in 374 words - which helped focus effort on some of the world’s biggest problems.
However, the current discourse points towards a less concise outcome. The final United Nations’ Open Working Group document, for example uses 4,369 words to set out 169 targets across 17 goals. If the global community does not prioritize, and trim down this list, we risk wasting a rare opportunity.
The post-2015 Consensus: Identify the most effective targets
The Copenhagen Consensus Center’s Post-2015 Consensus project is working with the 62 teams of the world’s top economists to identify the most effective targets – the ones that if reached will generate the greatest benefits given the costs - within 19 core issue areas. Additionally, we have the participation of NGOs, UN agencies and the private sector providing comments on our findings, ensuring we cover many different points of view.
Over the course of 2014 we will be releasing the papers written by these economist and experts together as topical research sets for each of the 19 core issue areas. After all the research has been published, an expert panel consisting of Nobel Laureate economists will weigh up the economic, social and environmental benefits and costs of all targets discussed for the post-2015 development agenda to form final recommendations.
The UN’s decision on choosing goals will definitely rest on a number of factors, not just costs and benefits – but knowing this provides an import piece of information.
If we could replace a goal that saves 1 life for every $500,000 spent, with a goal that saves 10 lives for the same amount, we will do much more good over the next 15 years!
About the Copenhagen Consensus Center
For more than 10 years, the Copenhagen Consensus Center has been helping governments and development agencies spend more effectively to solve the world’s biggest problems. We are at the forefront of the post-2015 debate, for example our report rating each target of the OWG’s Final Outcome document based on benefit-to-cost has been highly praised within the development community. As of September 2014, over 100 articles have been published in media outlets around the world about our post-2015 research.