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August 27, 2010

How about some MDGs for the TOP billion?

August 27, 2010
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In the run up to the big UN MDG summit next month, this sweet idea comes from Andrew Revkin on his dot earth blog:revkin190.250

“Here comes a question to ponder over the weekend. There is a set of Millennium Development Goals for the poorest of the poor – a cohort of humanity sometimes described as the the “bottom billion.”

But, as yet, there is no set of such goals for those who are already living lives that many analysts say are consuming resources at a pace well beyond the planet’s carrying capacity, particularly if the habits that attend affluence – from greatly increased meat consumption to unthinking energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions – are adopted by another few billion people.

There are plenty who contend that unrestrained pursuit of prosperity is a prerequisite for a mix of environmental care and technological advancement that will continue to improve the state of the planet. But there’s self interest in an examination of how much is enough. Some analysts have found, for example, that diseases accompanying affluence exact a toll in lost years of human lives that is not far behind the losses from diseases of poverty. And then there’s the issue of what’s being pursued – the good life as defined in Vegas or by Plato.

The question: Would the world benefit from a set of millennium development goals for the “top billion”?”

[h/t Sam Bickersteth]


  1. The world would only benefit from a set of MDG’s for the top billion if there was any chance of actually implementing them.

    If I remember correctly, personal Millenium Goals recommended by the newspapers at the turn of the end of 1999 included going on a cruise to the Antarctic and diving off the Great Barrier Reef. If those papers were to revisit their lists, they would probably advise doing these sooner rather than later, before they are destroyed.

  2. Isn’t that one of the most important points? We are talking a lot about “helping” but the next minute policies in “other areas” and actions of us, the people, just counter the small positive effects we achieve.
    If we don’t want a part of the world to be dependent on aid forever probably we need to change our behaviour as much as they do!

  3. This is a great idea. Andrew Revkin’s suggestion offers a much more holistic approach to development. While certainly the Millennium Development Goals should be for everyone, the emphasis is much more on advancing development for the poor. But we don’t live on different planets, and so we should really be considering the extent to which the way that the top billion live negatively impacts the development opportunities of the bottom billion. Global climate change is an excellent example of this. The poorest, least powerful countries are more likely to feel the negative effects of climate change, but the richer more powerful countries are more culpable for the damage.

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