Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Sachs Says UN’s Development Goals Should Inspire Technologists

Columbia economist says ambitious international goals are needed to avert big crises in the world.

Establishing a set of hugely ambitious global goals that include ending extreme poverty by 2030 is “not hubris at all, it’s a matter of basic decency,” said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and special advisor to the United Nations’ secretary general, at the opening keynote on the first day of Solve. Presenting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that were approved by the member countries of the United Nations on September 25 to the Solve audience, Sachs argued that agreeing on such goals “will make a difference” by focusing much-needed attention on the challenges.

Jeffrey Sachs on the Solve stage.
Jeffrey Sachs on the Solve stage.

The development goals focus on agriculture, “climate action,” “affordable and clean energy,” and other global needs. Sachs said that the upcoming U.N. climate change conference in Paris starting in November will be our “last chance” to keep global warming from human activity below 2 °C, though success at the meeting is still uncertain. Our current systems of agriculture are not sustainable and agriculture is on “the front line of climate change,” he warned. “It’s the first sector that gets hit.” To keep the global temperature rise below 2 °C, he added, will “be a heck of challenge.”

Another goal is to reduce inequalities, including the growing income gaps that have been worsened by advancing digital technologies. To that, he said, the most important solution is “universal access to quality education.” 

Still, Sachs pointed to recent successes. Globally, only about 10 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty; in Africa the number is down to 35 percent. “Technology has absolutely had a leading role,” he said. “Nothing has been as important as the mobile phone.”

Become an MIT Technology Review Insider for in-depth analysis and unparalleled perspective.

Subscribe today
Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.