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Ending Short-Termism by Keeping Score

As finance ministers gather for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s annual meetings, they will face no shortage of urgent matters to discuss. But they should not deflect attention from even more pressing long-term challenges.

GENEVA – As finance ministers gather in Washington, DC, for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s annual meetings, they will face no shortage of urgent matters to discuss. Fears of a global recession, the US-China trade war, the fallout of the Brexit talks, and a dangerous debt overhang make this the most stressful economic juncture in a decade. These issues must be discussed, and we should all hope that they can be resolved with minimal damage.

But they should not deflect attention from even more pressing long-term challenges: achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030; delivering on the Paris climate agreement over the next 30 years; and reforming our global economic system to make it fit for the next 50 years and beyond.

All of this assumes an end to the economic short-termism that underpins policymaking today. For that, we should develop scorecards to track our performance on these long-term priorities. To that end, I have three suggestions. First, we need to rethink GDP as our “key performance indicator” in economic policymaking. Second, we should embrace independent tracking tools for assessing progress under the Paris agreement and the SDGs. Third, we must implement “stakeholder capitalism” by introducing an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scorecard for businesses.

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