•Alexander Gillespie is a professor of law at Waikato University

Millennium goals were adopted by the international community as a way to bring some economic, social and environmental sustainability to the planet. Progress was good.

Take just the first three of the eight goals. By 2015 the number of people living on less than US$1.25 ($1.80) a day had been reduced from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million. The target of halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger was nearly achieved, but one in nine people in the world (795 million) remains undernourished.

Net enrolments in primary schools went from 83 per cent in 2000 to 91 per cent in 2015 but 57 million children remain outside of school, with 103 million youths worldwide lacking basic literacy skills. More than 60 per cent of them are women.

The good news is that with the new sustainable development goals the momentum can be maintained. If the international community can co-ordinate and prioritise correctly, and the developing countries concerned can reciprocate with robust economic management, a lack of corruption, and matching commitments, success can be achieved.


But success has a price tag. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by the year 2030 will take an estimated US$265 billion, annually, on top of what is already spent. Universal primary and early secondary education will take US$239b more a year.

If someone had an even bigger shopping list, to get the developing world on to climate-friendly energy and adaptation to climate change, a further US$100b a year is required.

The list could go on, but these three alone equate to close to an extra US$600b annually than is being spent in these areas.

The bad news is that getting the extra money is not easy. The first place that much of the money should come from is the wealthy countries which have repeatedly promised to allocate 0.7 per cent of their GDP to international assistance for the poor parts of the world. However, only six of these countries, including Britain, make the target. New Zealand gives only 0.27 per cent of its GDP. Although the quality of the assistance we give is good, the quantity is poor.

It is, however, on a GDP basis, greater than what America pays at only 0.17 per cent, and this figure could soon fall. President Trump's view is that it is wrong to be spending such money overseas when there are better uses for it at home.

Despite being a low percentage in pure dollar terms, the Americans' US$31.8b a year remains the most generous aid amount on the planet.

The second place that the money should come from is from military budgets. The additional US$600b required every year to move humanity to a sustainable basis is about one third of what the international community currently spends on weapons.

This number will soon increase. In this area, Trump is a fan of GDP percentages. The President is very concerned that other countries, such as Russia, spend more on defence (around 4.5 per cent of GDP) than America (around 3.3 per cent).

The fact that less-than-transparent China is increasing its military budget again, perhaps to around 2 per cent of GDP, also rattles him.

His solution is that American allies should be spending at least 2 per cent of their GDP on their military. Although countries such as Britain, Australia and South Korea are already doing this, it will be difficult for countries such as New Zealand, even with the additional $20b announced last year, to raise its military spending from the present 1.1 per cent to make a 2 per cent target.

The other part of the solution is to increase the American spend on the military. This will take the American military spending to at least US$600b a year, although the true figure is probably much higher.

This will have America spending, in dollar terms, at least four times what its closest rival, China, allocates each year. The wisdom of all of these choices is up for debate.