Nov 14, 2007 — Jeffrey Sachs, the poverty-fighting economist who twice landed in the “100 Most Influential Leaders in the World” issues of Time Magazine, was honored this fall by students of the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution with the International Advocate for Peace Award.
“We were blown away by the practical effect of Sachs’ work,” said Erin Russ ’08C, the journal’s editor-in-chief. “He has brought together parties with different objectives to meet key goals such as eliminating hunger, disease, inadequate education, and absence of essential infrastructure, with the ultimate goal of building self-sustained communities worldwide.”
Past recipients of the International Advocate for Peace Award include President Bill Clinton and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Sachs, author of the New York Times bestseller The End of Poverty, directs Columbia University’s Earth Institute, prior to which he taught for 20 years at Harvard University, from where he received a BA, MA, and PhD. He is president and cofounder of Millennium Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization aimed at ending extreme global poverty and serves as special advisor to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Sachs, speaking without notes and exuding energy and purpose, said that we are living in extraordinary times. He said, “The world is really peculiar right now—we have a phenomenal capacity to solve the world’s problems and an equally phenomenal capacity to mess things up.” He called on the United States and public and private institutions to give more aid for the one billion people who live in extreme poverty and suffer from preventable diseases, polluted water sources, lack of education, and other severe cyclical hardships.
Sachs said the United States spends $650 billion per year on the military, as much or more than the entire world’s military budgets combined, and just $5 billion for aid to Africa. He talked about successful strategies for eradicating malaria-related deaths, comparing the price of an anti-malaria bed net—$5—with how much the US military spends per minute—$1.1 million. He noted that Africa has about 300 million sleeping sites in malaria transmission regions, and after some quick mathematical calculations, said that, “with one day of the Pentagon’s spending we could protect every sleep site in Africa for five years. Can you believe we can’t find a way to do this right now?”
The renowned economist advocated for scientific, economic, health, educational, and environmental solutions to regional instabilities created by poverty, noting that as competition increases for the earth’s resources, particularly heavy burdens will be placed on the world’s most vulnerable countries, thereby increasing the danger of conflicts and wars within and between states.
Sachs closed by quoting from John F. Kennedy’s 1963 “Peace Speech” which was a forceful call to resolve differences with the Soviet Union: “For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
Sachs received a standing ovation and so inspired Cardozo students that a group was immediately formed to organize an event to raise funds for anti-malaria bed-nets in February 2008.