CGD Podcast: Efficient Development with Bjørn Lomborg

September 07, 2023


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were ambitious from the moment they were established in 2015. But since then, the world has been rocked by the health and financial crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, the reverberations from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the increasingly severe impacts of climate change, and more. Recent estimates suggest that successfully achieving the SDGs could take up to $175 trillion. With nowhere near that amount ready to go, how can the international community prioritize?

"If we can’t do everything, let’s do the best things first," says Bjørn Lomborg in his new book, accordingly titled Best Things First. The book highlights 12 "most efficient" policy solutions across infrastructure, education, poverty alleviation, and more that Lomborg claims could deliver $15 back for every dollar spent.

In this episode of the CGD podcast, Lomborg joins CGD's Gyude Moore to discuss what those 12 polices are, how they were assessed and identified, and the tradeoffs they may require.


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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.