A controversial economist and former Greenpeace activist who questioned the benefits of the Kyoto protocol on climate change faces new criticism for 'elitist' moves to improve the effectiveness of foreign aid.
This accusation comes from development agency ActionAid as Bjorn Lomborg hosts a global conference in Copenhagen where nine economists, including four Nobel prizewinners, will rank proposed solutions to global problems such as conflict, education, hunger, trade subsidies and communicable diseases according to their cost effectiveness.
The five-day conference, which opened today (24 May), has been organised by the Environment Assessment Institute, a Danish government agency which Mr Lomborg heads.
ActionAid shares Mr Lomborg's recognition of the need to improve aid effectiveness and make the money go further. But the agency cites basic flaws in his approach.
It says development work over the last 40 years has shown conclusively that narrow, technocratic solutions developed by foreign experts will never bring about progress on conflict, hunger, disease or the environment. Home-grown and home-owned solutions which take proper account of poor communities' needs are what is needed..
ActionAid warns that by prioritising the world's troubles based on current aid levels the conference shows a real poverty of ambition. It says rich countries must stop spending money on cows, sheep and arms and face up to their responsibility for providing the resources needed to tackle poverty now .
Danish-born Birgit La Cour Madsen, a UK policy officer for ActionAid, said: "The 'Copenhagen Consensus' could scarcely be a less appropriate title for this conference. Consensus can never be reached by nine suited economists sitting in a northern capital. Any real consensus on development can only come about through a broad debate involving all the relevant actors - and in particular, the people for whom poverty and deprivation are daily realities. Rather than holding elitist projects which snub the poor, Lomborg and Co should involve people from the South as equal partners for progress."