By Roman Bharati
As we continue to propel into the 21st century the more deeply rooted issues in our world will eventually need to be addressed. After reading Bjorn Lomborg’s “How to Spend $ 75 Billion to Make the World a Better Place”, his claim that just over 60% of the world’s spending can dramatically alter our course left an impact on me. Lomborg’s arguments stem primarily from the “attacking poverty” source, and for good reason.
The world spends about $125 billion each year on development aid from agencies such as USAID and others. Aside from that, we spend tens of billions of dollars on worldwide activities such as peacekeeping troops, climate change policy, conservation, and most recently, vaccine research.
However, it is evident that more is required. A billion people continue to live in abject poverty, 2.3 billion do not have access to modern electricity, the planet is still at war, we are really nothing near addressing global warming or biodiversity, and about a billion people go to bed hungry.
Priorities in expenditures are frequently driven by the loudest groups with the strongest public relations. Campaigners of all shades utilise dramatic photos and tales to attract our attention and influence assistance funding, from collapsed buildings in Bangladesh to the destruction wrought by droughts and storms, to hunger outbreaks in far-flung regions.
So naturally, we have to ask ourselves how we can most efficiently spend our money.
Lomborg convened the Copenhagen Consensus think tank, which polled 50 of the world’s leading economists to determine where we might do the most good. They conducted research on approximately 40 investment concepts spanning from armed conflicts and natural catastrophes to hunger, education, and climate change. Each paper’s authors assessed the costs and advantages of the most cost-effective methods to spend money in their location.
They presented their findings to a distinguished panel of five leading economists, including four Nobel laureates. The panellists were chosen for their experience in prioritising as well as their ability to assess policy options using economic principles.
According to the panel, $75 billion could go a long way toward alleviating many of the world’s problems if invested wisely.
According to the group, the single most essential investment would be to increase the battle against hunger. New studies by John Hoddinott of the International Food Policy Research Institute and Peter Orazem of Iowa State University focuses on a $3 billion yearly commitment. This would fund a package of treatments such as micronutrient supplementation, supplementary meals, worm and dysentery medical interventions, and behavior-change programmes, all of which might reduce persistent undernourishment by 36% in poor nations.
This is significant not just because over 100 million youngsters might begin their lives without stunted development or malnourishment. It is even more important since recent, long-term data suggests that the advantages of such programmes will last a lifetime: their bodies and muscles will grow quicker, their cognitive capacities will increase, and they will pay more attention in school (and stay there longer). According to estimates, these youngsters would be three times more productive, earn more money, have lower birth rates, and begin a virtuous spiral of spectacular development decades later.
When all advantages are considered, every dollar invested on hunger-alleviation will likely result in $59 worth of global good. While micronutrient supplementation is rarely lauded, a concerted effort might make a significant difference.
Similarly, the high-level team determined that merely $300 million would avoid 300,000 malaria deaths in children. In economic terms, the benefits are 35 times greater than the expenses. Similarly, incredible investments are available for tuberculosis treatment, children vaccination, and an HIV/AIDS vaccine.
As individuals in the developing world live longer lives, chronic illnesses will account for half of all fatalities in Third World nations this year. Bringing low-cost medications for acute heart attacks to underdeveloped nations would cost only $200 million and save 300,000 lives, resulting in a $25 return on investment.
Another brilliant suggestion is to invest $2 billion each year in agricultural research and development in order to boost agricultural productivity. This would not only alleviate poverty by boosting food production and decreasing food prices, but it would also safeguard biodiversity since increased agricultural yield would result in reduced deforestation. Because woods store carbon, this would aid in the battle against climate change.
These concepts may not be incredibly innovative, but if implemented more broadly, they have the potential to make an immensely positive difference in the lives of people today and in the future. More significantly, we must encourage everyone, from high school students to UN ambassadors, to consider how we can optimise costs. It’s a basic notion that, when applied to policy issues, may help brighten our future.