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Copenhagen Consensus Center

Preliminary Benefit-Cost Assessment for 12th Session OWG Goals

Policy Advice

The Copenhagen Consensus has updated our benefit-cost assessment of UN Post-2015 Millennium Development Goals for the 12th session of the Open Working Group.  The Copenhagen Consensus will present full, peer-reviewed economic evidence over the coming half year.

This  report  builds  upon  the  similar  analysis  Copenhagen  Consensus  Center conducted  on  the 11th  OWG document. Extensions of analysis beyond the 11th  session report include: 

•    Ratings for most new targets

•    Ratings for Focus Area 9: Promote sustainable industrialization 

•    Ratings for Focus Area 10: Reduce inequality within and among nations

•    Ratings for Focus Area 14: Attain conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, oceans and seas

•    As requested, the report also contains more explanation on many targets rated poor and suggestions for better wording of many targets.

The Copenhagen Consensus Center provides information on which targets will do the most social good relative to their costs. Some of the world’s top economists have assessed the targets from the 12th  session Open Working Group document into one of five categories, based on economic evidence: 

PHENOMENAL – Robust evidence for benefits more than 15 times higher than costs

GOOD – Robust evidence of benefits between 5 to 15 times higher than costs

FAIR – Robust evidence of benefits between 1 to 5 times higher than costs

POOR – The benefits are smaller than costs or target poorly specified (e.g. internally inconsistent, incentivizes wrong activity)

UNCERTAIN – There is not enough knowledge of the policy options that could reach the target OR the costs and benefits of the actions to reach the target are not well known

More than twenty of the world's top economists have made a preliminary assessment of the 212 targets in the 12th OWG session paper. They have done so in terms of which targets will do the most social good relative to their cost. While it is measured in dollars, this is not just about money - it also incorporates the costs and benefits of for instance health, welfare and environmental protection.