The General Assembly of the United Nations convenes this week. In this session, they’ll be reviewing the Millenium Development Goals set in 2000 — and to underscore the UN’s commitment, secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has declared that the “bottom billion” of the earth’s poorest people are the focus of development efforts for 2008. But economist Paul Collier (watch his TEDTalk) asks Ban and the rest of the UN to go a step further:
… to focus on the challenge of helping the bottom billion to converge with the rest of mankind — on a more realistic timescale. We need not just a “Year of the Bottom Billion,” but several decades.
How can richer, more developed nations help the bottom billion (and as Collier points out, it’s now the bottom 1.4 billion)? The answer is not more aid, but more policy, he suggests:
I am not hostile to aid. I think we should increase it, though given the looming recession in Europe and North America, I doubt we will. But other policies on governance, agriculture, security and trade could be used to potent effect.