Policy makers in eight countries rank expanding economic opportunity, improving infrastructure or increasing industrial innovation as a top three development goal, according to a new survey.
The report, Evolving development goals in an evolving world published by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and sponsored by Microsoft, also shows that local concerns such as improving employment, education or health are higher priorities for governments than cross-border challenges as curbing climate change or income inequality.
Though this local focus is understandable, it threatens to undo and reverse progress in areas that require cross-border collaboration such as environmental sustainability and sewing peace in unstable regions, the report states.
In recent years, cross-border goals such as boosting environmental protection and addressing income inequality rose in prominence among policymakers, as a foundation for a more peaceful and prosperous future.
But these goals seem to have slipped in select countries across Europe, North America, Asia and Africa, behind more immediate concerns such improving economic opportunity, innovation, healthcare and education.
Protecting the environment and natural resources ranks only fifth, globally and efforts to reduce inequality rank eighth (last) globally.
Carolyn Whelan, the report’s editor, said: “The relatively low emphasis on tackling inequality is surprising, given talk of inequality stoking Britain’s EU exit and an overheated US presidential campaign. However, the broad agreement among policy makers that collaboration between sectors will be critical to meet this and other pressing social and economic goals offers hope.”
Despite a retreat from trans-border issues, collaboration is a bright spot, with nearly 90% of respondents describing collaboration and partnerships as either “very” or “somewhat important” to meet their country’s top development goals.