Global Priorities Decision Parameters

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

To help prioritise which global issues one may choose to focus on, we recommend using the following criteria :

1. Importance
How many individuals does this issue affect, and how deeply ? There are 5.4 million children under-five dying each year from preventable diseases. That feels like a major priority.

2. Urgent vs Longterminism
The children, that are going to die of malaria, need assistance now. There may be malaria vaccinations and genetic engineering to make mosquitoes sterile and these should be taken into consideration, but those children need insecticide-treated bednets now.

Though in other cases, delayed funding has been shown to have a much greater effect.

Other people would argue that if we do not handle certain long term potential catastrophes, like the possibility of Artificial Intelligence ending the human race, then perfecting other aspects of our world now may be pointless over the long term.

3. Effectiveness and Where Funding can do the Most Good

There are some areas that are already well-funded and additional funding here may produce decreasing returns. There is some research that indicates that Climate Change has become so politically popular that it is being over-funded to the detriment of other important needs.

Whereas some important areas may be less popular and more neglected and even small funding here can sometimes make a significant difference.

There can also be a considerable difference in the effectiveness of how a charity may use your funds. Sometimes this effect can be 1,000 times greater. Therefore it would seem sensible to take advantage of the research that certain organisations do to find the best funding opportunities.

4. Personal Interest

There is also the concept of utilitarianism that should be considered. Is it better to help one blind person in the US obtain a guide dog or for about the same amount help 300 people in Africa have cataract surgery to improve and sometimes effectively regain their eyesight ?

The concept of utilitarianism would say that it is obviously better to help the far greater number of people in Africa than the one person in the US. However, this means that the person in the US would not be assisted until everyone was assisted in Africa, and therefore may well never be assisted.

This seems a bit unfair to the person in the US. We therefore feel that it is good to temper the statistical indicators with also a level of personal interest, in a way that both your heart and mind become a part of this process.