Associating SDGs’ Benefits With Costs Could Lead To More Effective Investments In Human Development

New Yorker: How to Write the World’s To-Do List
Michael Specter, staff writer at The New Yorker

“…[Bjørn Lomborg, the president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center] argues that the U.N. is diluting its power by attempting to eliminate all problems [through the proposed SDG targets]. He is undoubtedly correct. Costs in the SDG plan rarely seem to be linked to benefits. … The DALY combines years of potential life lost owing to premature death with years of productive life lost to disability. That sort of principle, which associates benefits with costs, ought to be applied to massive investments in human development. Unfortunately, we need to choose which terrible blights we need to prevent and which we do not. People hate thinking that way (and they hate those who write about it). Nobody wants to put dollar values on a disease, a treatment, a life, an ocean, or the future of a country. But feel-good virtue alone rarely succeeds, and, if the Millennium Development Goals have demonstrated anything, it is that this planet and the people who live so tenuously on it will survive only if we spend our money on programs that work” (7/22).