Professor Sachs joined the IB on Facebook to discuss #generationIB, the Sustainable Development Goals, and to offer inspiration to students as they take on the challenge of sustainability throughout their studies and their lives.
"The idea of the Sustainable Development Goals is that we want to make a world that is a good place to live, where people can thrive, live in peace, have their futures safe, raise families, [and] pursue their careers", said Professor Sachs. “On the one hand, the world’s economy and technology has created a lot of riches, but it’s also left a lot of people behind. The world has created a lot of production, but it’s also created a lot of environmental crises."
Professor Sachs said that students are the key to making things happen, and can really take action on global challenges and crises: "It’s one thing to announce a goal, it’s another thing to achieve it, and that’s where we need the IB to come in, and young people, because [some of] these governments...are not really focused on the public good, so they have said “ok, we support these goals”, but they’re not necessarily working hard to achieve them."
Professor Sachs also emphasised the importance of rounded knowledge and a wide understanding of issues, which was a passion that drove him into the study of sustainability: "You can’t understand an economy unless you understand a bit of the politics, you understand a bit of the society and the culture of course, and then I started to realise you also can’t understand an economy unless you understand the geography and the resources, and the climate. The more I studied, and the more I had experience in working on practical problems that these countries were facing, the more I saw issues like culture or environment or global warming were connected.”
During the webinar, Professor Sachs was presented with some of the amazing work that has already been done by teams partaking in #generationIB. “This is great news”, said Professor Sachs, adding that the SDSNwill be very interested in learning about and supporting the activities of #generationIB teams around the world.
And Professor Sachs' advice for students participating in #generationIB? Look closer to home: “Identify within one’s own community [if] there are challenges that you can address locally. Has your city adopted the Sustainable Development Goals? Does your metropolitan area or district have a sustainable development strategy? What are the risks environmentally that one faces? What are the challenges of inequality?... A good movement locally can have a very big impact."
Professor Jeffrey Sachs serves as the Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University. He is University Professor at Columbia University, the university’s highest academic rank. During 2002 to 2016 he served as the Director of the Earth Institute. Professor Sachs is Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on the Sustainable Development Goals, and previously advised UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on both the Sustainable Development Goals and Millennium Development Goals and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria.