Crafting better development targets:
Trade, Climate, Population and Biodiversity


Bjorn Lomborg

A note from Bjorn Lomborg 

I wanted briefly to re-introduce you to our main project this year  â€“ The Post 2015 Consensus.

If you should set the targets for the world to aspire to over the next 15 years, what would they be? 

The world set 9 sharp targets in 2000: the so-called Millennium Development Goals promised to get people out of hunger and poverty, to reduce child mortality and to get kids in school by 2015.

Now, the next set of targets, for 2016-2030 are being shaped by 193 governments. The latest proposal has a vertiginous 169 targets. Clearly we need priorities. 

The Copenhagen Consensus works with 62 teams of top economists and several Nobel Laureates to estimate costs and benefits of more than 70 targets from nutrition and education to conflicts, air pollution and energy. We'll show which targets that do lots of good per dollar, and which don't.

Of course, the ultimate decision is political. But knowing the costs and the benefits make it likely that the world will chose more of the best targets. Given that the next targets will determine $2.5 trillion of development aid, just slightly smarter targets can help the world do $500 billion more good.

As I argue in a new podcast with Freakonomics (with more than 3 million monthly downloads) -- doing $500bn good is likely the best any of us can do this year.

All the best,

New benefit-cost research every week

In October alone we have released 19 research papers covering topics such as Climate Change, TradeBiodiversity, and Population and DemographyThe research has already sparked a global debate on the smartest targets for the post-2015 agenda. If you want to get the next results first, sign up here

Climate policies may be worse than useless

The UN Climate Panel came out with their Synthesis Report.

Lomborg wrote in The Telegraph that this is an opportunity to think smartly and  find a realistic way to fix global warming. But we need to stop the hype:

Global warming pales when compared to many other global problems. While the WHO estimates 250,000 annual deaths from global warming in 30 years, 4.3 million die right now each year from indoor air pollution, 800 million are starving, and 2.5 billion live in poverty and lack clean water and sanitation.

Trade makes each poor $1,000 richer each year

Getting a successful Doha round on free trade could be the best target ever. Kym Anderson finds it will make the world $11 trillion richer each year in 2030, and lift a staggering 160 million more people out of extreme poverty.

For every dollar spent, we will do at least $2,000 of good.

So if the economic case is clear, why isn’t it implemented? Because the anticipated losses in jobs and wealth are very obvious and concentrated, whereas the gains are thinly spread and less-easily identifiable.
The findings were reported around the globe, e.g. in India's Economic Times, The Japan Times or Germany's Die Welt.

Climate change needs fixing 

Lead by Isabel Galiana, the research papers show better ways to fix our currently stuck climate policies.

They find that investing 0.5% of GDP into green energy research and development funded by a low and slowly rising carbon tax is the smartest climate target, doing perhaps $11 of good for each dollar spent.
Instead, as reported on Forbes or BBC World News Hour, we should stay clear of the 2°C target, which will cost more than the benefit we'll achieve.

Population and demography

Hans-Peter Kohler and Jere R. Behrman from University of Pennsylvania show that providing access to unmet sexual and reproductive health needs will result in 640,000 fewer newborn deaths, 150,000 fewer maternal deaths and 600,000 fewer children who lose their mother. 

With fewer kids, parents can afford better schooling, while society benefits from fewer costs from kids and more income from a larger working population.

As reported by Britain's The Telegraph, the total benefit is $120 for each dollar spent.


Economists Anil Markandya, Luke Brander and Alistair McVittie argue that reducing the loss of coral reefs, wetlands and forests are worthwhile targets.
As reported in the Huffington Post, stemming the loss of coral reefs by 50% will return at least $24 for every dollar spent. 

Interestingly, the reports find that establishing protected areas is not an effective way to go about preserving forests.

Prioritizing The World 

This month we have released the latest book edited by Bjorn Lomborg. It paints the best targets in green -- and the poorest in red.
"In 2000, the Millennium Development Goals set a few, highly effective targets for the world, e.g. halve the proportion of poor and hungry and reduce childhood mortality by two-thirds. The goals have been a huge success. Now, the UN and the world is to decide which new goals will take over in 2015. 

The UN s Open Working Group has proposed 169 targets. But we need to know which are most effective. Copenhagen Consensus has asked 30+ of the world’s top economists to highlight phenomenal, good, fair and poor targets, weighing up the social, environmental and economic benefits and costs."

Click here to purchase on Amazon. 

Foreign Affairs 

The November/December 2014 issue of Foreign Affairs features an 8 page article by Dr. Lomborg. “Promises to Keep: Crafting Better Development Goals”, highlights the work of the Post-2015 Consensus  and the valuable knowledge the project is injecting into the post-2015 debate. You can read the entire article on 

World Food Day 2014

Thursday October 16th celebrated World Food Day, the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945.

In honor of World Food Day, Times of India published Dr. Lomborg's op-ed entitled “Feeding people is smart: It's the best investment to do good in the world.” The article argues how tackling nutrition is one of the world's most cost-effective solutions, with massive benefits for a tiny price tag.

You can also watch our video Fighting Hunger and Malnutrition which was featured on the front page of the Economic Times’ website during World Food Day.

Recommended links:

Dirty Development Money
The Reporter (Ethiopia) 

Transferencia de Tecnología de los Países Ricos a los Pobres
Millenio (Mexico)

Millennium Development Goals Expire Next Year ... What then?
Mail & Guardian (South Africa) 

Data and Cost of Global Aid
Daily Trust (Nigeria)

Cleaner cooking; electricity better lives: A Case for Reliable, Affordable Energy
The East African (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda) 

Educación: Grandes Beneficios
El Comercio (Peru)

WTO Doha Deal Would Make World $11 Trillion Richer by 2030: Economists
Viet Nam News (Viet Nam)

Población: Herramienta de Prosperidad
Los Tiempos de Cochabamba (Bolivia)

Det er uhåndterbart at have 169 mål
Borsen (Denmark)

Romsons goda vilja hjälper inte de fattiga
Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden)

Flujos financieros ilícitos
El Periódico (Guatemala)

El costo de la violencia
El Universal (Venezuela)

Dirty development money

Blog for Berlingske (Denmark)


Politiken er venstrefløjens Fox News

Oversvømmelse af dårlige løsninger

About Bjorn Lomborg and the Copenhagen Consensus 

Dr. Bjorn Lomborg researches the smartest ways to improve the environment and the world, and has repeatedly been named one of Foreign Policy’s top 100 public intellectuals.

He is the author of several best-selling books, an adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School and regularly works with many of the world’s top economists, including seven Nobel Laureates. 
His think tank, the Copenhagen Consensus Center was ranked by the University of Pennsylvania as one of the world’s "Top 25 Environmental Think Tanks".

Lomborg is frequent commentator in print and broadcast media, for outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, CNN, FOX, and the BBC. His monthly column is published in 19 languages, in 30+ newspapers with more than 30 million readers globally.

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Best wishes,
Zsuzsa Horvath
Executive Assistant to Bjorn Lomborg
US online phone number: +1-347-903-0979
Office cell in Budapest: +36-306920720 
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