With all the multifaceted problems in the world today, it is difficult to say which are more important than others. However, it is imperative to prioritize certain issues in order to dedicate enough resources to combat the top problems in the world that can be solved.
Top Problems that can be Solved
The Copenhagen Consensus Center, a think tank that researches the smartest solutions to global issues, organized a panel of five distinguished economists in 2012 to set priorities for fighting the 10 top problems in the world that can be solved:
- Armed Conflict
- Chronic Disease
- Infectious Disease
- Population Growth
- Climate Change
- Hunger and Malnutrition
- Natural Disasters
- Water and Sanitation
The panel was asked to describe the best ways to advance global welfare, specifically that of developing countries. The experts then assembled a prioritized list of thirty solutions.
Solutions to the World’s Issues
The number one solution was “bundled interventions to reduce undernutrition in pre-schoolers” and addressed the challenge of hunger and education. Some other proposals high on the list were subsidies for malaria combination treatment and expanding childhood immunization coverage.
The group of experts covered topics besides health, with solutions ranging from investing in early warning systems for natural disasters to increased funding for green energy.
With this list in mind, world leaders at the U.N. Sustainable Development Summit adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Sept. 2015. On Jan. 1, 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) replaced the eight Millennium Development Goals of 2015.
The new 17 SDGs were to:
- End poverty
- End hunger and improve nutrition and sustainable agriculture
- Promote well being for all ages
- Ensure equitable and quality education
- Achieve gender equality
- Ensure water and sanitation for all
- Ensure access to modern energy for all
- Promote sustainable economic growth and productive employment
- Build resilient and innovative infrastructure
- Reduce inequality
- Make settlements safe, resilient and sustainable
- Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
- Take urgent action to combat climate change
- Conserve and sustainably use Earth’s water
- Promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems and forests, and halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss
- Promote peaceful societies, provide access to justice and build effective, accountable institutions
- Implement and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development
A New Set of Problems
80,000 Hours, an independent nonprofit organization that researches how graduates can make the biggest difference possible with their careers, came up with another list defining problems in the world that can be solved. Drawing from research from groups such as the University of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute and the Copenhagen Consensus Center, 80,000 Hours created a framework to rate global issues.
The organization based its scoring on how solving the problem would reduce the risk of extinction, raise the global economic output, increase the income among the world’s poorest 2 billion people and save years of healthy life. It also used factors like the amount of good done compared to the percent of the problem solved and the number of resources required.
Risks from artificial intelligence topped 80,000 Hours’ list out of 11. Also on the list were biosecurity, developing world health and climate change. Other issues 80,000 Hours has yet to rate include science policy and infrastructure, cheap green energy and promoting human rights. The group indicates that improving health would be more beneficial than topics like empowering the poor and education.
Due to how differently each solution overlaps with others there are various ways to rank a list of top problems in the world that can be solved. Thankfully, experts are doing their best to target issues to focus on and world leaders are taking calculated steps to implement solutions to such issues.
– Connie Loo