Great Development Agendas also Need Responsible Investments
By admin September 19, 2016

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The 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have among their objectives a lot of noble aspirations ranging from achieving inclusive and quality education, to ensuring full and productive employment, to eradicating hunger and promoting sustainable agriculture. The problem, however, is that these objectives are as noble as they are expensive. The OECD recently estimated that meeting all 17 SDGs would cost around US $3.3-4.5 trillion annually – far more than the nearly $132 billion spent globally on overseas development aid in 2015. For instance, providing universal primary education would require at least an additional $17 billion spending per year, while eradicating poverty would need infrastructural investments to be worth $5-7 trillion globally.

At the same time, donor countries are certainly not augmenting their development aid, but they are fighting against difficult domestic situations especially on this topic. In the UK, for instance, voters want to renege on a previous foreign-aid commitment amounting to 0.7 percent of GDP by a margin of two to one. In the US, the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, is calling to “stop sending foreign aid to countries that hate us” and at the other side of the ocean, in Australia, the Coalition government has drastically cut foreign aid programmes reaching an historical low point for the country’s aid generosity.

Consequently, it is evident that actors working in the international development sector should consider lowering their expectations and trying to find efficient ways to utilize the strict funds they have. In fact, many achievements related to international development deliver less than what they promise: education, for example, investing in smaller class sizes and higher teacher salaries has not had any significant impact on student test scores.

Another issue that promises more than it delivers is “climate aid,” which allocates development funds to efforts mitigating the effects of global warming. These schemes have often a cosmetic purpose and don’t have an effective impact if coupled at the same time with expenses such fossil-fuel subsidies that waste billions in reducing gas prices artificially. Economists estimate that every dollar diverted from energy subsidies could generate at least US $15 in benefits to society. In addition to reducing CO2 emissions and pollution, ending subsidies will free money for other areas like health and nutrition where simple measures can have incredibly impactful effects.

An example in the health sector is represented by aspirin, which could solve many heart attacks and prevent deaths if made more widely available. The cost per treated case of providing this cheap drug alongside clinical visits is just US $13-15, which means we could reach 75 percent of the population in low-middle income countries for just US $3.5 billion. Likewise, investing in nutrition is a another no-brainer: measures such as salt iodization or vitamin A supplementation cost few cents annually per recipient, while improving a child’s long-term health, educational performance, and future earnings.

In conclusion, as Dr. Lomborg affirms, international development organizations must have a stronger business mindset, to try to ultimately economize on the funds they still have rather than looking for more international aid.

For more information:

No-Brainer Sustainable Development

Post-2015 Consensus: Health Perspective – Non Communicable Diseases, Nugent

Vitamin A Supplementation A DECADE OF PROGRESS

Development Co-operation Report 2016

Post-2015 Consensus: Education Assessment, Psacharopoulos

Australian Foreign Aid: The State Of Australian Aid



Thanks for sharing !

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