With Limited Budget, Prioritizing Investments In Projects To Advance Human Welfare Is Critical

“If you had $75 billion to spend over the next four years and your goal was to advance human welfare, especially in the developing world, how could you get the most value for your money?” Bjorn Lomborg, an author and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, asks in this opinion piece in Slate Magazine’s “Copenhagen Consensus 2012” section. “That is the question that I posed to a panel of five top economists, including four Nobel laureates, in the Copenhagen Consensus 2012 project,” he writes, noting, “The panel members were chosen for their expertise in prioritization and their ability to use economic principles to compare policy choices.”

“Over the past year, more than 50 economists prepared research on nearly 40 investment proposals to address problems ranging from armed conflicts and natural disasters to hunger, education, and global warming,” he notes, adding, “In early May, many of them traveled to Denmark to convince the expert panel of the power of their investment proposals.” Lomborg writes that while in Copenhagen, he “presented Slate readers with the same proposals,” asking readers how they would “best prioritize these investments to best help the world.” He provides a link to the result of the reader poll, lists the 16 investments that the panel found most worthy of investment, and writes, “The expert panel’s findings point to a compelling need to invest roughly $2 billion annually in research and development to increase agricultural output.” He concludes, “The $75 billion budget chosen for the Copenhagen Consensus project is large enough to make a real difference, but small enough that we must choose — as in the real world — the projects that can achieve the most good” (5/14).

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