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copenhagen consensus 2006 a united nations perspective At a meeting in Washington DC on June 16th and 17th, organized by the Copenhagen Consensus Center and Georgetown University, United Nations ambassadors and other senior diplomats, including China, India and the United States, discussed priorities for international action on key challenges facing both the developing countries and the world as a whole. A good degree of consensus emerged, both on the principle of setting priorities, given competing demands on limited resources, and concerning the particular urgency of addressing certain challenges, especially in the fields of education, sanitation, malnutrition, and communicable diseases. The countries represented were China, India, Pakistan, Tanzania, Thailand, the United States, Vietnam and Zambia. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Bjorn Lomborg of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, and co-chaired by Nobel Laureate Douglass C. North and editor Clive Crook. The Georgetown gathering extended work first begun two years ago. At the first meeting of the Copenhagen Consensus project, in Copenhagen in 2004, a group of internationally renowned economists examined detailed submissions and presentations by expert contributors and discussants across ten challenge areas: climate change, communicable diseases, conflicts and arms proliferation, education, financial instability, governance and corruption, malnutrition and hunger, migration, sanitation and clean water, and subsidies and trade barriers. In each of these areas, specific policy opportunities were proposed and analyzed. The panel concluded by endorsing an ordered list of priorities for action, answering the hypothetical question, if the international community had an additional $50 billion to devote to new initiatives, how should that money be spent? (For further details of Copenhagen Consensus 2004, see Copenhagen Consensus 2006 followed a similar procedure, drawing on the earlier exercise. Representatives had available to them the materials from the previous meeting, and over two days heard new presentations from acknowledged economists and UN experts for each of the ten challenge areas. In each case, opportunities for action were again proposed and examined. The representatives separately ordered the multiple opportunities. Those rankings were then combined into a single ranking based on the median of the representatives’ individual rankings. That group ranking is shown below:


 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40



Communicable Diseases Sanitation and Water Education Malnutrition and Hunger Malnutrition and Hunger Communicable Diseases Communicable Diseases Malnutrition and Hunger Subsidies and Trade Barriers Education Sanitation and Water Education Malnutrition and Hunger Education Sanitation and Water Migration Corruption Conflicts Sanitation and Water Migration Sanitation and Water Corruption Corruption Migration Subsidies and Trade Barriers Corruption Climate Change Conflicts Corruption Financial Instability Conflicts Conflicts Financial Instability Conflicts Financial Instability Financial Instability Subsidies and Trade Barriers Climate Change Climate Change Climate Change

Scaled-up basic health services Community-managed water supply and sanitation Physical expansion Improving infant and child nutrition Investment in technology in developing country agriculture Control of HIV/AIDS Control of malaria Reducing micro nutrient deficiencies Optimistic Doha: 50% liberalization Improve quality / Systemic reforms Small-scale water technology for livelihoods Expand demand for schooling Reducing Low Birth Weight for high risk pregnancies Reductions in the cost of schooling to increase demand Research to increase water productivity in food production Migration for development Procurement reform Aid post-conflict to reduce the risk of repeat conflict Re-using waste water for agriculture Guest worker policies Sustainable food and fish production in wetlands Grassroots monitoring and service delivery Technical assistance to develop monitoring and transparency initiatives Active immigration policies Pessimistic Doha: 25% liberalization Reduction in the state-imposed costs of business/government relations The Kyoto Protocol Aid as conflict prevention Reform of revenue collection International solution to the currency-mismatch problem Transparency in natural resource rents as conflict prevention Military spending post-conflict to reduce the risk of repeat conflict Re-regulate domestic financial markets Shortening conflicts: Natural resource tracking Reimpose capital controls Adopt a common currency Full reform: 100% liberalization Optimal carbon tax Value-at-risk carbon tax A carbon tax starting at $2 and ending at $20

 The representatives agreed to a large extent that high priority should be given to initiatives on communicable diseases, sanitation and water, education, and malnutrition. In some cases, there was greater disagreement over the choice of particular opportunities within a given 2

challenge area. In education, for instance, some representatives attached the highest priority to physical expansion of education infrastructure; others attached higher priority to systemic reform of education delivery. In communicable diseases, some representatives ranked scaledup basic health services as the best opportunity; others ranked specific initiatives as HIV/AIDS or malaria prevention as a better opportunity. In the area of trade, the highest rank was given to an optimistic outcome of the Doha round. In the lower reaches of the joint ordering, a more marked degree of agreement was apparent. Initiatives in the challenge areas of financial instability, conflict prevention and climate change were placed toward the bottom of the list by almost all of the representatives. All the representatives declared that they had found the exercise useful. Further meetings of the Copenhagen Consensus project are planned. Website: Contact: Project Manager, Mr. Tommy Petersen at or +45 3815 2252.

Washington D.C. June 20, 2006 .Â


PR 20.06.07  

The countries represented were China, India, Pakistan, Tanzania, Thailand, the United States, Vietnam and Zambia. The meeting was chaired by...

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