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World's top economists warn UN Sustainable Development Goals will not succeed without emphasis on economic growth

Some of the world’s top economists have warned the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, that the Sustainable Development Goals will not succeed without a stronger emphasis on the need for economic growth, in an open letter.

Ahead of negotiations to finalise the Goals – which will replace the Millennium Development Goals – 18 leading economists warn Mr Ban that, “Achieving the SDG targets will not be possible unless the agenda focuses squarely on individuals as active generators of their own income, lifting themselves out of poverty.”

The letter has been signed by Professor Sir Paul Collier, Director of the International Growth Centre and Professor of Economics at the University of Oxford, and Professor Tim Besley from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

FishermenProfessor Larry Summers, Professor and President Emeritus of Harvard University, Dr Nancy Birdsall, founding president of the Center for Global Development, Professor Dani Rodrik, from the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and Professor James Robinson, author of Why Nations Fail and Professor at Harvard University, are also amongst the signatories.

The letter says: “The current SDG proposals list a wide variety of noble ambitions including securing food, health, education, and energy. Yet, poor attainment in these areas is, in large measure, a consequence of poverty and a lack of growth.

“There is a risk that presenting the SDGs as if they could be directly delivered by public action inadvertently casts ordinary people in the passive role of recipients of government largesse. Without sustained economic growth the resources required for effective public action will be limited.”

The letter states: “there is no magic bullet for delivering economic growth”, instead, “It requires an effective state, productive firms, functioning cities, and access to energy. Helping societies to achieve economic growth thus means empowering them to create their own solutions.”

Posted: 24 November 2014

 

 

 

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