Interview with Jeffrey Sachs on Coronavirus
Jeffrey Sachs, renowned Sustainable Development Economist | Aurum Speaker Series
Financial markets around the world are facing volatile weeks as the escalating coronavirus crisis is putting the economy on recession. There are over 500,000 global cases and 25,000 deaths. To fight this, a quarter of the world’s population is in lockdown but wondering until when. In the middle of so many bad news, there is at least one positive note: travel restrictions and reduced mobility in big cities is drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions. That, in turn, is improving the quality of air as pollution drops. Aurum Speakers Bureau reached out for a short interview with Jeffrey Sachs to comment on these issues. Jeff is one of the leading economists fighting climate change. He is also a sustainable development expert and advisor on Sustainable Development Goals to the UN Secreatary-General.
Leading expert on Sustainable Development
- Renowned Sustainable Development Economist & best-selling author.
- University Professor & Director of the Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University
- Director, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network & Commissioner, UN Broadband Commission for Development.
- Special Advisor to three United Nations Secretaries-General, currently serving as SDG Advocate under Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
World leaders gathered at the United Nations in 2015 to adopt Agenda 2030. This was a commitment to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), providing a holistic framework, with the vision of eliminating poverty and deprivation, protecting the environment, growing disadvantaged economies, advancing peace and promoting good governance. After over three years of negotiations with many intergovernmental agencies, the vote to commit to the Agenda was formally accepted.
As the lead advocate for the SDGs, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, one of the world’s leading experts on sustainable economic development, was an instrumental driver to the successful adoption of the Agenda 2030 resolution.
Jeffrey Sachs’ work
Jeffrey Sachs is a world-renowned professor of economics, a leader in sustainable development, senior UN advisor, and globally recognized syndicated newspaper columnist, appearing in over 100 countries. Prof. Sachs has also authored several books, including three New York Times bestsellers. He is a co-recipient of the 2015 Blue Planet Prize, the premier global prize for environmental leadership. The Economist Magazine recently ranked Professor Sachs as among the world’s three most influential living economists of the past decade.
Professor Sachs is currently a University Professor of Sustainable Development, and Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. At the UN, he is also the Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and commissioner at UN Broadband Commission for Development. Additionally, he is an SDG Advocate under Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Previously, he served as Special Advisor to three UN Secretary-General, including Ban Ki-moon and Kofi Annan.
In his pursuit of sustainable development and fight against poverty, the twice named Time Magazine’s 100 most influential world leaders, is a highly sought-after sustainability keynote speaker all around the world.
Aurum Speakers Bureau proudly engages sustainability speaker Jeffrey Sachs with many top organizations and companies globally to share his views on sustainable development and his fight against climate change and poverty. Prof. Sachs is a popular sustainability keynote speaker at the most prestigious events and conferences world-wide.
Short interview with Jeffrey Sachs, sustainability speaker
Below is the interview with Jeffrey Sachs, who has graciously given us some of his limited time for a short interview in this blog:
- With the WHO recently declaring Coronavirus a pandemic, and many countries being on partial or total lockdown and declaring a national state of emergency, what are your thoughts on the overall global economic impact of this disease? Do you envision another recession similar to the 2008 world-wide meltdown?
We are in the sharpest economic contraction in modern history, but this one is different. It is to a significant extent by design, in response to the pandemic. The economy is being systematically closed down to try to stop the spread of the virus. The goal is to contain the virus within roughly 3 months and then to restore the economy step by step. In the interim, the priorities are to save lives, extend urgent help to those who are unemployed, and prepare for the end of the shutdown so that the epidemic does not recur.
- Can you share your insights on how the Coronavirus response has been handled so far by the U.S. White House Administration? How do you think this will play into the presidential elections with Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden challenging Donald Trump?
Trump has been completely incompetent and ineffective, the worst leadership of any American president in modern history. He let the epidemic get out of control, claiming for weeks that the virus is not significant or dangerous. Even as the epidemic is at a dire moment for the nation, Trump claims that the economy must reopen by Easter. This is very dangerous and is rejected by almost all experts.
- On the subject of Bernie Sanders, who you’ve publicly endorsed for President, he often advocates for redistribution and greater state intervention like in Northern European countries for example. As a leading sustainable development economist, yourself, can you give us your thoughts on those systems and also talk a bit about your World Happiness Report and how other countries can increase their happiness like in Finland or Denmark?
We need a mixed economic system, that combines a market economy with effective government and social solidarity. That is the social democratic system of the world’s happiest countries, such as the Nordic countries. The US is instead a libertarian political system, that tolerates, indeed promotes, a very high inequality of wealth and income with little social solidarity. There is much more stress and anxiety and lower life satisfaction in the US than in the social democratic countries.
The latest World Happiness Report for 2020 was published just a few days ago. You can read it here:
- Speaking of sustainable development, you recently spoke at COP25 in Madrid last December. You discussed decarbonization as one of the climate crisis sustainable development goals. What do we need in order to advance to a net-zero carbon economy by 2050? Do you think those goals are achievable?
The European Green Deal is the most important global breakthrough in decarbonizing the world energy system. Europe is now on a path to decarbonization by 2050. Other regions will emulate Europe’s lead. Ironically, the coronavirus pandemic will accelerate the global decarbonization process. For example, by demonstrating that many global business trips can more efficiently be handled by videoconference. Also, e-commerce will be accelerated, and e-commerce solutions offer lower-carbon pathways to retail trade.
- Regarding your incredibly busy conference travel schedule, we imagine it may be scaled back a bit for the next few months due to the current coronavirus situation and travel bans. What can we tell our clients who still wish to invite you to speak on such crucial topics but are unable to hold a conference or a face-to-face meeting at this time due to the pandemic?
I am a big believer in videoconferencing, and have been for quite a while. It’s a great way to stay connected, to hold global meetings, and in the current epidemic to stay safe. I look forward to weeks and months ahead of very effective, efficient, and useful global online meetings and conferences.