Your excellency, Dear Sir / Madam,
Over six months we have released 100+ peer-reviewed publications across 18 research topics - authored by 100+ expert economists, NGOs, businesses and UN agencies. In total we have provided you specific information on the social, environmental and economic costs and benefits of more than 100 targets for the next development agenda. Our research has been featured in 1000+ articles worldwide.

Our Expert Panel including two Nobel Laureates has read and reviewed all of this research, and today they have released their findings, that 19 targets would represent the very best value-for-money in development over the period 2016 to 2030.

As reported by Reuters and major newspapers from Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung to Mexico's Milenio, reaching these global targets by 2030 will do more than $15 of social good for every dollar spent:


Lower chronic child malnutrition by 40%
Halve malaria infection
Reduce tuberculosis deaths by 90%
Avoid 1.1 million HIV infections through circumcision
Cut early death from chronic diseases by 1/3
Reduce newborn mortality by 70%
Increase immunization to reduce child deaths by 25%
Make family planning available to everyone
Eliminate violence against women and girls


Phase out fossil fuel subsidies
Halve coral reef loss
Tax pollution damage from energy
Cut indoor air pollution by 20%


Reduce trade restrictions (full Doha)
Improve gender equality in ownership, business and politics
Boost agricultural yield increase by 40%
Increase girls’ education by 2 years
Achieve universal primary education in sub-Saharan Africa
Triple preschool in sub-Saharan Africa


The expert analyses suggest that if the UN concentrates on 19 top 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. Being smart about spending could be better than doubling or quadrupling the aid budget.

Nobel Laureate economist Finn Kydland, Professor at University of California in Santa Barbara, says: “What made the MDGs so successful was their ability to galvanize international effort around a handful of smart, focused targets. It seems wise for us to continue this focus over the next 15 years, rather than spreading ourselves too thinly and slowing the remarkable progress we’ve already achieved.”

With regard to nutrition, one of the highest-ranked targets on the list, he continues: “Making sure young children are properly fed not only improves their wellbeing as they grow but has life-long implications for their health, intelligence and prosperity. Promising everything to everyone risks drawing attention away from clearly beneficial interventions such as this one.”

Nobel Laureate economist Tom Schelling, Professor at University of Maryland, comments: “Our list of targets will not solve all the world’s problems, but neither can any list under realistic budgets. Our list can help the UN make its choices like a savvy shopper with limited funds. Choosing great targets will vastly increase the benefits to people around the world, as well as generations to come.”

With regard to the recommendation to complete the Doha Round, he says: “If we’re serious about ending extreme poverty, there has to be genuine international commitment to lowering trade barriers. Much of the reason we reached the first MDG, halving extreme poverty, was because of China’s rapid income growth. And how did the Chinese achieve that remarkable feat? Most evidence suggests that international trade was a key ingredient.”

And Nancy Stokey, distinguished economist and Professor at University of Chicago, says: “Choosing the next set of global goals carefully, comparing the social benefits generated by spending resources various ways, can mean the difference between having a small effect and a large one.”

She continues, “It’s tempting to promise everything to everyone. But doing so means that we don’t focus on anything, and in the end we undertake a lot of mediocre projects.”

On gender goals, she argues: “There is not only a compelling moral argument, but also a strong economic one for boosting women’s involvement in politics, business and society. Allowing women greater control over their reproductive choices, reducing domestic violence and educating girls are clear first steps.”

A detailed version of the Expert Panel’s full conclusions can be accessed here.

All research papers can be accessed at

Best regards,
Bjorn Lomborg
PhD and Adjunct Professor
President of Copenhagen Consensus Center

PS. The Post-2015 Consensus project brings together 60 teams of economists with NGOs, international agencies and businesses to identify the targets with the greatest benefit-to-cost ratio for the UN's post-2015 development goals. If you have questions about the project, send an email to Research Project Manager Brad Wong by replying to this email.
We have tweeted the benefit-cost evaluation of each current UN OWG post-2015 target. Follow us to see how all 169 current targets rated according to leading economists.
We have tweeted the benefit-cost evaluation of each current UN OWG post-2015 target. Follow us to see how all 169 current targets rated according to leading economists.
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