Purpose – Public economics has recently introduced the concept of global public goods as a new category of public goods whose provision is central for promoting the well-being of individuals in today's globalized world. The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which introducing this new concept in international development is helpful for understanding human well-being enhancement. Design/methodology/approach – The paper considers some implications of the concept of the common good for international development. Findings – The concept of global public goods could be more effective if the conception of well-being it assumes is broadened beyond the individual level. “Living well” or the “good life” does not dwell in individual lives only, but also in the lives of the communities which human beings form. A successful provision of global public goods depends on this recognition that the “good life” of the communities that people form is a constitutive component of the “good life” of individual human beings. Originality/value – The paper suggests that the rediscovery of the concept of the common good, and identification of how to nurture it, constitute one of the major tasks for development theory and policy.