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Copenhagen Consensus Center

The good, the bad and the hideous

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The Economist has published a new article which reports on the expert panel’s recommendations for the post-2015 development agenda.

Those conclusions contain a warning for the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which set targets for 2030. Overall, countries are better off than they used to be, so it may be harder to meet the new goals than the old ones. And the patchy pattern of improvement means targets of zero (for, say, extreme poverty or deaths from tuberculosis) will be especially tough.

The Copenhagen Consensus Centre, a not-for-profit organization, asked economists and other researchers to look at various topics covered by the SDGs to see which offer the best rates of return (ie, are most cost-effective). They found that 18 of the 169 would pay back $15 or more for every $1 spent. Half of those are health interventions, such as better treatment of malaria and tuberculosis, immunising more children and making family planning available to all. Three are energy policies, including phasing out subsidies for fossil fuels, which now run at $50 billion a year. Three target education, including the universal provision of primary education in Africa and ensuring that girls receive, on average, two years more education than they now get."

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