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Bjorn Lomborg

Get the facts straight

Setting the Right Global Goals

2014-05-20

COPENHAGEN – The world has generally become a much better place during the last half-century. Skeptics will scoff at the idea of overall improvement, but the numbers don’t lie. The task we face now is to make the world even better.

There are many reasons for this progress – not the least being rapid economic development, especially in China. But there has also been a concerted international effort, reflected in the Millennium Development Goals, which the United Nations adopted in 2000 to make the world a better place by 2015. The MDGs set 18 sharp and mostly achievable targets in eight areas, including poverty and hunger, gender equality, education, and child and maternal health. In the period since 2000, development aid worldwide reached about $900 billion, of which perhaps $200 billion was due to the MDGs.

The UN is now contemplating how to extend this target-setting process from 2015 to 2030. If the successor scheme, called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has a similar impact, it could determine the allocation of upwards of $700 billion. Obviously, this means that everyone wants their favorite issue on the agenda, and more than a thousand targets have been proposed, which is tantamount to having no priorities at all. (...)