The Age of Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment

Africa Renewal - - BOOK REVIEW - by Jeffrey D. Sachs — Pavithra Rao

Columbia Univer­sity Press, New York, USA; 2015, 521pp; pb $ 26.24

In Septem­ber 2015, the Mil­len­nium De­vel­op­ment Goals (MDGs) will ex­pire and the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals (SDGs) will set in. Launched by the United Na­tions at the Mil­len­nium Sum­mit in 2000, the eight MDGs sought to erad­i­cate or re­duce, among other is­sues, hunger and poverty, dis­eases, gen­der in­equal­ity, as well as mother and child mor­tal­ity. In the post-2015 era, the SDGs are ex­pected to build on the MDGs.

In his book, The Age of Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment, renowned eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor and au­thor, Jeffrey D. Sachs, who is also a spe­cial ad­vi­sor on the MDGs to UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon, elab­o­rates on the SDGs and il­lus­trates how they can be achieved. Through a holis­tic ap­proach that ad­dresses a topic that can of­ten be over­whelm­ing and com­plex, Prof. Sachs ex­plains clearly the im­por­tance of not just learn­ing the­ory, but also cham­pi­oning the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment agenda to im­prove the wel­fare of hu­mankind.

“Sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment is both a way of look­ing at the world with a fo­cus on the in­ter­link­ages of eco­nomic, so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal change, a way of de­scrib­ing our shared as­pi­ra­tions for a de­cent life, com­bin­ing eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, so­cial in­clu­sion and en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity,” Prof. Sachs told his au­di­ence when he launched his book at UN Head­quar­ters in New York early this year. “It is, in short, both an an­a­lyt­i­cal the­ory and a ‘nor­ma­tive’ or eth­i­cal frame­work”.

The book is or­ga­nized into short chap­ters – in­clud­ing an in­tro­duc­tion to sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment, food se­cu­rity, bio­di­ver­sity, ur­ban­iza­tion and cli­mate change – and breaks these con­cepts down into easily di­gestible seg­ments. The ap­proach en­sures that a reader with no prior knowl­edge of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment can easily un­der­stand.

The 521-page book is an in­spir­ing and en­light­en­ing read. It shows how much of a dif­fer­ence each global citizen can make to­wards col­lec­tive goals. And as Prof. Sachs stated at the book’s launch in New York: “The preser­va­tion of the planet is in our hands.”

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