Jeffrey D. Sachs is the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is also Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. From 2002 to 2006, he was Director of the UN Millennium Project and Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals, the internationally agreed goals to reduce extreme poverty, disease, and hunger by the year 2015. Sachs is also President and Co-Founder of Millennium Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization aimed at ending extreme global poverty.
He is widely considered to be the leading international economic advisor of his generation. For more than 20 years Professor Sachs has been in the forefront of the challenges of economic development, poverty alleviation, and enlightened globalization, promoting policies to help all parts of the world to benefit from expanding economic opportunities and wellbeing. He is also one of the leading voices for combining economic development with environmental sustainability, and as Director of the Earth Institute leads large-scale efforts to promote the mitigation of human-induced climate change.
In 2004 and 2005 he was named among the 100 most influential leaders in the world by Time Magazine. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan, a high civilian honor bestowed by the Indian Government, in 2007. Sachs lectures constantly around the world and was the 2007 BBC Reith Lecturer. He is author of hundreds of scholarly articles and many books, including the New York Times bestsellers Common Wealth (Penguin, 2008) and The End of Poverty (Penguin, 2005). Sachs is a member of the Institute of Medicine and is a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Prior to joining Columbia, he spent over twenty years at Harvard University, most recently as Director of the Center for International Development. A native of Detroit, Michigan, Sachs received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard University.
Question: What's your advice to the next administration?
Sachs: I think the most important thing for the next administration is to have a Department for International Sustainable Development, so we start taking seriously the fight against poverty and the fight for environmental sustainability. Let’s be clear, we have a government that makes wars and it does not fight poverty and this is a disaster for American security. Within that… within increased funding, as we promised to do 0.7% of our GNP, which is what we’ve promised, compared to one-fourth of that which we actually give right now and half of the one-fourth that we give is really for the war zones. If we had more funding devoted it to the fight against hunger, the fight against disease, the fight against poverty, a voluntary national service would play a role in that to be sure especially to help students and those after school to see the world like the Peace Corp has enabled and to contribute to solutions. There could be a tendency to believe that this is by itself enough and it would not be enough. We’ve got to get much more serious about this. There are large scale financing needs that go well beyond individual action even national service programs, but national service can play a very significant role in showing the best of America and in educating a new generation of Americans about realities abroad, and helping the rest of the world to understand that America is not just about dropping bombs out of airplanes, but it’s actually about solving problems.