Child malnourished Kenya Ritesh Shukla/ZumaPress

Next-Generation Development

A panel of 82 eminent economists analyzed the proposed Sustainable Development Goals to establish which targets are likely to be most effective. They found that the world's energies and resources would be best focused on improving the lives of children.

PRAGUE – Over the next 15 years, some two billion children will be born, 90% in the poorest parts of the world. Providing these kids with a better start would be one of the greatest achievements that humanity could make. Doing so also would be one of the most efficient uses of the resources that the world dedicates to development.

Next month, world leaders will gather at the United Nations in New York to agree on the Sustainable Development Goals: the targets that will succeed the 18 set in the year 2000 by the Millennium Development Goals. The list of potential targets is impossibly long: 169 in all, toward which trillions of dollars will be spent. How they are prioritized will be profoundly important to the lives of billions of people.

The Copenhagen Consensus, a research organization that I head, asked 82 eminent economists from around the world to carry out a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed targets, in order to establish which are likely to do the most good for people, the planet, and global prosperity over the next 15 years. It turns out that one of the best ways to help is by focusing on improving the lives of children.

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