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Copenhagen Consensus Center

Smart development goals: To get the biggest bang for every buck, paint a bull's eye on 19 specific targets

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Nobel Laureate economists Finn Kydland and Thomas Schelling, together with University of Chicago professor Nancy Stokey, have prioritised the 19 best value-for-money targets for the world to focus on over the next 15 years. Together with Bjorn Lomborg, they write in the world's biggest English-language newspaper Times of India, China Daily, The East AfricanBergens Tidende (Norway) and multiple Latin American newspapers such as El Universo (Ecuador), that their list can help the UN make its choices like a savvy shopper with limited funds. Choosing the smartest targets will increase the benefits to people around the world up to four times.

We have selected the 19 targets that we expect to produce the greatest benefits. The expert analyses suggest that if the UN concentrates on these top 19 targets, it can get $20 to $40 in social benefits per dollar spent, while allocating it evenly across all 169 targets would reduce the figure to less than $10.

Consider a couple of targets that help people directly through health benefits. Tuberculosis (TB) is a ‘hidden’ disease. Over two billion people carry the bacterium that causes it, about 10% of those people will develop TB at some point, and about 1.5 million people each year die from TB. But treatment is inexpensive and, in most cases, highly effective. Spending a dollar on diagnosis and treatment is a low-cost way to give many more years of productive life to many people. Ebola may get the headlines, but TB is a much bigger problem."

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