Jeffrey Sachs

Director Earth Institute & Adviser to Ban Ki-moon

Jeffrey Sachs is a world renowned economist, advisor to two UN secretary generals and best-selling author. He is also Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Director of the UN Millennium Project.

Sach's has been described by the New York Times as 'probably the most important economist in the world'.

Advisor to governments across the world on sustainable economic development and the fight against poverty, hunger, disease and climate change.

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About Jeffrey Sachs


We are in a race to save lives - We have not yet found ways to move the world to sustainable development. Jeffrey Sachs October 2012

Sachs has spent much of his career wrestling with the issues of world poverty and health and environmental sustainability but he made his name in the mid 80's and 90's as an economist working with countries undergoing massive upheaval. Initially he worked in Latin America with the Bolivian Government on hyper-inflation and then in Eastern Europe, where he developed a blue-print for the transition from state control to a market economy. He began in Poland, quickly finding his ideas in demand across the region including Slovenia, Estonia and Russia. His methods came to be known as shock therapy.

Sachs interests led him to Africa where his ideas about investing in health - as a way of breaking out of poverty - have been widely adopted by dozens of countries. He was appointed Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and continued his work under Ban Ki-Moon, becoming the Director of the UN Millennium Project and the Millennium Villages Project fighting poverty by using low cost technologies.

In 2005 he wrote The End of Poverty, arguing that it would be possible to eradicate poverty in 20 years, citing India and China as positive examples of what could be achieved. He worked with the Indian Government as senior advisor on health care in rural areas and in China on their Western Development Strategy. His work has taken him across Asia and he has advised the Government of Qatar on education and ICT initiatives.

Sachs has been a consistent critic of the IMF and International Banking and briefly put his name forward in 2012 for Head of the World Bank - his calls for greater foreign aid have inevitably attracted controversy. In 2007 a committee was formed to encourage him to run for the 2008 election for President of the United States.

His best-selling books include Common Wealth (2008), and The Price of Civilization (2011) in which he turns his attentions homewards and calls for a kinder more responsible society in the wake of repeated economic crises. He has also written hundreds of learned articles and a text book on macroeconomics that is used worldwide. His opinion pieces appear in the Financial Times, the International Herald Tribune, Scientific American, and Time magazine and he has received more than 20 honorary degrees.

Sachs is a member of numerous learned organizations including the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Society of Fellows, and the Fellows of the World Econometric Society.

He works closely with international organizations including the African Union, the Asian Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, the World Health Organization and The World Food Programme.

Sustainable Development

As Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon emphasizes, Sustainable Development is the greatest challenge facing our generation.  The present course of global economic development is unsustainable in three critical ways. First, it is leaving too many nations behind. Second, it is creating new forms of inequality, joblessness, and instability within countries.  And third, it is on a collision course with the environment.  Sustainable Development in our age therefore means three things: (1) continued economic progress in all regions, enabling poor countries to narrow the gap with richer countries, and leading globally to the end of extreme poverty; (2) social and economic inclusion within countries, for girls and women as well as boys and me, and for minority groups as well as majority groups; and (3) economic growth consistent with planetary boundaries, to avoid catastrophic climate change and the massive loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.  As Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, a university-wide initiative to address the challenges of sustainable development, Professor Sachs helps to lead an effort of hundreds of scientists, policy analysts, and development practitioners working around the world in climate science, engineering, economic development, public health, business formation, and international diplomacy.

Secretary-General Ban has recently appointed Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs to lead a new UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, engaging private high-tech industry, leading academics, and the global scientific and engineering community broadly, to partner with governments and civil society in the quest for sustainable development.  We need a new era of practical, technology-based problem solving, to decouple economic growth from destructive resource use, and to harness the thrilling new lessons of science.  The information revolution now underway is perhaps most promising of all.  With the costs of managing, storing, and transmitting data having declined by roughly a factor of one billion in the past half century, and with that progress known as Moore's Law continuing, we stand at the threshold of great advances in energy, farming, transportation, health care, education, finance, and good governance.  Prof. Sachs will describe this great potential and the obstacles we need to overcome to harness it in his presentation.  He will also describe the ongoing diplomatic efforts to agree on a new framework of sustainable development to guide the world in the years after 2015.

Awards, Accolades, Achievements & Honours

  • In 1999 Sachs was given one of Polands highest honors, the Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit in recognition of his work there.
  • In 1993 he was called by the New York Times, probably the most important economist in the world,
  • In 1994 Time Magazine called him the worlds best known economist.
  • A recent survey by The Economist Magazine has ranked Professor Sachs as among the worlds three most influential living economists of the past decade.
  • He was also named one of the "500 Most Influential People in the Field of Foreign Policy" by the World Affairs Councils of America.
  • In 1997, the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur cited Sachs as one of the world's 50 most important leaders on globalization.
  • He has been named one of Time Magazine's "100 Most Influential People in the World" twice, in 2004 and 2005.
  • In 2007, he received the Centennial Medal from the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for his contributions to society.

Speaking Style

Academic and formal

As a key player at the centre of world issues for over thirty years, Jeffrey Sachs' speaking style conveys both the depth of his experience at the sincerity of his views.

Jeffrey Sachs was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1954 and went on to take his B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. at Harvard. He became one of their youngest ever professors of economics in 1983 at the age of 28. His association with Harvard spanned 20 years during which he served as Director of the Centre for International Development and the Galen L. Stone Professor of International Trade before moving on to Columbia University in New York in 2002. There he served as the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management. As Director of the Earth Institute, he leads more than 850 professionals across the natural and social sciences in search of solutions to the problem of a sustainable future.

He lives in New York City with his wife and three children.

Speaking Topics

  • Long-Term Sustainable Development
  • Economic Policy Beyond Gimmicks
  • The Politics of Global Climate Change
  • Global Health
  • How I would lead the World Bank
  • Aid works
  • To save the eurozone, save the banks


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Books By Jeffrey Sachs

  • Developing Country Debt and Economic Performance (1991)
  • The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time (2005)
  • Poland's Jump to the Market Economy (1994)
  • The Strategic Significance of Global Inequality (2001)
  • Development Economics (1997)
  • Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet (2008)
  • Resolving the Debt Crisis of Low-Income Countries (2002)
  • Macroeconomics in the Global Economy (2003)
  • The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity (2011)

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Latest from Jeffrey Sachs

America’s Dangerous Anti-Iran Posturing

NEW YORK – In recent weeks, US President Donald Trump and his advisers have joined Saudi Arabia in accusing Iran of being the epicenter of Middle East terrorism. The US Congress, meanwhile, is... read more »

Posted on 1 Aug, 2017

Lies and the lying lobbyists who tell them

The greatest problem in Washington is not polarization but lying. The legislative machinery has ground to a halt not because of the great divide between liberals and conservatives but... read more »

Posted on 20 Jul, 2017

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