ImpactAlpha has reported on Nordic solutions to global challenges, an initiative launched by Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland to share with the world their experiences in six areas of development: climate change, energy, sustainable cities, gender equality, welfare, and food policy.
Contrarian Bjorn Lomborg is skeptical. Lomborg is the president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, a US-based think tank that weighs the costs and benefits of global development efforts. He says that by prioritizing green policies, the Nordic countries risk sending the message that “it’s less important to focus on targets like eliminating tuberculosis and malaria or reducing global maternal mortality, than to advance SDG targets like the development of tools to monitor sustainable tourism, or promoting education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles.”
Lomborg says an effective focus would target childhood malnutrition, which produces 40 kroner (or dollars) of long-term benefit every kroner/dollar spent. It would aim to preserve the biodiversity of coral reefs that benefit fishermen and local economies through tourism. It would increase access to contraception and family planning, which could avert hundreds of thousands of maternal and child deaths.
“Encouraging poor nations to ‘transition’ to solar panels when many citizens still lack access to reliable energy is out-of-touch with reality,” he says. Yes, maybe. But as the prices of solar and other renewables fall, and new battery technologies enhances reliability, green energy can become reliable and accessible to the poor much faster than conventional energies.