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Governments Should Think Big, Act Fast, and Start Small to Solve Tough Problems

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Governments Should Think Big, Act Fast, and Start Small to Solve Tough Problems

When addressing critical issues such as nutrition access, clean water, and the digital divide, multilateral solutions aren’t the only answer.

Boston Consulting Group,

5 min read
4 take-aways
Audio & text

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When the world’s problems seem intractable, start with small, local, scalable solutions.

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Policy makers often want to tackle global problems on a large scale, all at once, but complex problems don’t always require multilateral solutions – at first. Governments and organizations can start small with programs at the local level, and when little wins prove a program’s efficacy, they can scale those programs worldwide. This special report from the Boston Consulting Group discusses low-risk, no-regret actions that can address nutrition deficiency, water shortages and digital access for all.


Governments can address citizen well-being and spur development by addressing three primary challenges: proper nutrition, clean water and digital access. 

A majority of the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) involve access to safe, healthy food and water. Inadequate nutrition increases the chances of childhood illness and death, and the children who survive are at risk for developmental delays and cognitive impairment, which leads to diminished productivity in adulthood. The World Bank estimates that poor nutrition causes a 7% drop in per capita income for developing countries.

Globally, more than two billion people struggle to access clean water, and that number is only expected to rise, with predicted water shortages affecting two-thirds of the global population by 2025. Substandard sanitation and water-related illness cause tens of thousands of deaths around the globe. The most common victims are children under age five.

Governments can address nutritional risk by “subsidizing biofortified food,” “monitoring and forecasting nutrition risks,” and “promoting maternal and child...

About the Authors

Vincent Chin, Hans-Paul Bürkner, Dwaa Osman, Janmejaya Sinha and Trish Stroman are professionals with the Boston Consulting Group.

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