Is there a better way to make sure sustainable economic development happens? This is an idea I had a long time ago, but I thought I’d put it out there without developing it further. I should probably start by saying that things aren’t as bad as we often think.
Nonetheless, there remain big difference between countries (let’s leave out difference within countries for the moment). Most rich countries engage in international development, but donor countries have no direct stake. What if we could change this, what if we could make it donor countries responsible for development? Perhaps this would lead to innovative ways to reach development goals.
The basic idea is to pair up countries, and make them joint responsible. We could start by matching countries by listing them by GDP, GDP per capita, and the HDI. We then link the country at the top with a few countries at the bottom (considering their capacity on the basis of say the GDP), the second country from the top with a few countries close to the bottom, etc. We could even throw in historical links or geographical proximity (even cultural similarities?) into the matching. We’ll end up with unions of rich and poor countries who are jointly responsible to meet the development targets in both places in the long term — so the unions would remain for a long period. We have the UN to monitor progress, but it’ll be up to the matched unions to decide how they achieve the goals.
We already have the UN and other international bodies who set targets, priorities, and time-frames. What we will gain is a clear responsibility if countries fall behind. Successful countries get bragging rights, unsuccessful ones we can shame.