10 About this Guide
Why did Economists Make the Selection?
Why Are Some Recommendations ‘Missing’?
Using Nobel Laureate-level economists to form the Copenhagen Consensus prioritized list was a deliberate and careful choice. Many environmentalist campaigners would tell you that any extra money should be dedicated to battling climate change. That’s certainly the global challenge we hear the most about. But an expert in air pollution will tell you that clearing the skies of killer smog should be the top priority. Our expert may point out that air pollution is the biggest environmental killer in developing nations. Someone who has spent his life studying conflict will tell you of the potential benefits from reducing the risks of civil war. When it comes to setting economic priorities among such options, the best people to turn to are economists. Economists, who are experts in prioritization, are the obvious people to provide a global overview. They put each challenge on an equal footing. They focus on where limited funds could achieve the most good, by focusing on the costs and benefits of each proposed investment.
You will note, when you look at the raw list of Copenhagen Consensus 2008 results, that we have not included two of the highly-recommended investments: the implementation of the Doha Round (ranked second) or the management of heart attack victims in underdeveloped nations (ranked eleventh). The reason for these omissions is that we believe that these interventions are more relevant to policy-makers than to philanthropists and donors. It is worth, though, underscoring the importance of both of these investments. Research for the Copenhagen Consensus Center by Kym Anderson showed that establishing significantly freer trade would help the world combat almost all of its biggest problems. For an astonishingly low cost, we could improve education and health conditions, make the poorest people richer, and help everybody become better able to tackle the future. A realistic Doha outcome could increase global income by more than $3 trillion every year throughout this century. And about $2.5 trillion annually would go to today’s developing countries every year, or $500 a year on average for each individual in the third world, almost half of whom now survive on less than $2 a day. Heart disease might not seem like a pressing issue for poor nations, but it represents more than a quarter of the death toll. Measures to reduce risk factors other than smoking— high intake of saturated animal fat, obesity, binge drinking
Guide to Giving
Copenhagen Consensus Center Guide to Giving