problems in the world that can be solvedWith 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:

  1. Armed Conflict
  2. Chronic Disease
  3. Education
  4. Infectious Disease
  5. Population Growth
  6. Biodiversity
  7. Climate Change
  8. Hunger and Malnutrition
  9. Natural Disasters
  10. 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:

  1. End poverty
  2. End hunger and improve nutrition and sustainable agriculture
  3. Promote well being for all ages
  4. Ensure equitable and quality education
  5. Achieve gender equality
  6. Ensure water and sanitation for all
  7. Ensure access to modern energy for all
  8. Promote sustainable economic growth and productive employment
  9. Build resilient and innovative infrastructure
  10. Reduce inequality
  11. Make settlements safe, resilient and sustainable
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  13. Take urgent action to combat climate change
  14. Conserve and sustainably use Earth’s water
  15. Promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems and forests, and halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss
  16. Promote peaceful societies, provide access to justice and build effective, accountable institutions
  17. 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

Photo: Flickr

indonesia's infrastructurePresident of Indonesia Joko Widodo, who was elected last year, is making Indonesia‘s infrastructure a priority. He is putting the equivalent of $22 billion U.S. toward improving the country’s infrastructure. This number is 53 percent larger than last year. President Widodo is also dedicating an additional $3 billion to state firms and companies that are involved with infrastructure improvement.

Improving Indonesia’s infrastructure could have long-term benefits that could help people affected by poverty. According to the Copenhagen Consensus Center, anywhere between 10 to 50 percent of crops are wasted while traveling from the farm to consumers. If there was a way to make this number smaller by a mere 10 percent, prices could be reduced; if prices are reduced, 60 million fewer people would go hungry.

President Widodo plans to invest in infrastructure by scrapping subsidies on fuel and providing subsidies for farmers to use on fertilizer and seeds. He also wants to improve irrigation systems for farmers, improve roads and land and provide more forms of communication. In the long run, this can improve overall food distribution.

This tactic has been proven effective in the past.

“Indonesia experienced rapid agricultural growth in the 1970s and 1980s together with reductions in malnutrition and poverty,” Mark W. Rosegrant, director of the Environment and Production Technology Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute, said.

Rosegrant was also involved in the Copenhagen Consensus Center study. “This growth and improvements in food security were significantly driven by increasing investments in rural infrastructure and in agricultural research and development,” he said.

Rosegrant and others behind the Copenhagen Consensus study are suggesting that there are even better ways for President Widodo to reach his goal. The study concluded that it would also be beneficial for President Widodo to invest in agricultural research along with infrastructure. Even if only $6 billion is devoted toward researching how to increase crop yields, the result could be 79 million fewer hungry people around the globe.

President Widodo is hopeful that improving power plants and rural roads will help the people of Indonesia and around-the-world significantly. This is excellent news, and perhaps President Widodo will look into the benefits of agricultural research and save even more lives.

Melissa Binns

Sources: The Australian Business Review, The Wall Street Journal
Photo: MTCP2