Jake Cash and Grey Reames
According to a new report from the Center for Global Development, the Nordic Countries Denmark, Sweden, and Finland top this year’s Commitment to Development Index, which is an annual ranking of the wealthiest countries in the world and how well they are helping those in developing countries through their policies. The index takes seven measures into consideration, and these are aid, finance, technology, trade, environment, security, and migration. Along with these measures, they make adjustments based on the size of the country’s economy, measured through GDP.
The top country for aid and security was Denmark, which spends 0.75 percent of its national income towards aid efforts. Norway and Luxembourg spend a larger share of their national income towards aid, but Denmark is ranked higher in the index because their spending, all things considered, is more effective. In terms of finance, Finland, Denmark, and Norway are the top three countries according to the index, meaning that they have the best government policies to promote transparency and direct investment into developing countries. According to the report, direct investment is the best way to help a developing nation’s infrastructure, transportation, and energy.
While the Nordic Countries rise to the occasion, the United States seems to be falling behind in the Commitment to Development Index. The US is ranked 23rd out of 27 overall, and within the metric for environmental help the US is 24th out of 27. These rankings are expected to keep dropping as well following the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. Not that the United States is doing nothing, in fact the US donates more in absolute terms than any other country, but the donations only come out to 0.18 percent of its national income. This puts the US in 22nd out of the 27 countries in the index when measuring the ratio of donations to income. Even though only a select few countries have managed to meet the 1970 UN goal of 0.7 percent of national income going towards donations, the United States falls terribly short of this metric.
The future doesn’t look bright for the United States’ future in these rankings either. Just earlier this year, President Trump signed an executive order banning Washington from helping pay women in developing countries for birth control, abortion, and family planning education. Quickly following this decision, The Netherlands created an international fund to help offset the impending withdrawal of US funding. These backwards steps by the United States will likely drag the US even further down in the index, and the response from The Netherlands will undoubtedly keep them high in the rankings.
This Index is not 100 percent accurate in its rankings, but it does a fairly good job of showing what certain countries are excelling at and what certain countries could improve upon. Clearly, the Nordic countries are a pretty good example of how to move forward in terms of aid and development. If the United States would follow in their wake, it would very likely mean great improvement for developing countries considering the absolute size of the US economy. The Nordic countries can only do so much with their limited resources, but the example they’re setting for the rest of the world can help far more in the coming years.
- How should the United States move forward?
- Is it possible for the United States to do as well as the Nordic Countries in these metrics given the extreme size difference?
- Is the UN target of 0.7 percent of GDP going towards aid a realistic target? How could this target be improved?
Source: Nordic Countries Most Committed to Development – Gaby Galvin, USNews