In Common Wealth, Jeffrey Sachs shows us that we need a new economic paradigm – global, inclusive, cooperative, environmentally aware, and science-based – because we are running up against the realities of a crowded planet. The alternative is a series of cascading threats to global well-being, all of which are solvable but potentially disastrous if left unattended. Prosperity must be maintained through new strategies for sustainable development that complement market forces, spread sustainable technologies, stabilize the global population, and enable the billion poorest people to escape from the trap of extreme poverty. The seemingly “soft issues” of the environment, public health, population growth, and extreme poverty will become the hard issues of geopolitics in the coming years. Indeed, these issues will become key determinants of war and peace.
The very idea of nations that scramble for global power, natural resources, and international markets is passe, and must be replaced by a new era of global cooperation around shared goals of sustainable development. Though we live in a time when confidence and global cooperation is at a low ebb, experience teaches us that it has repeatedly succeeded in the past. Now the capacity to deliver sustainable prosperity to all is greater than ever before if governments, businesses, and civil societies throughout the world coalesce around the goals that humanity adopted at the start of the new millennium, goals that Jeffrey Sachs calls our Millennium Promises.
If we take the right measures, there will be room for all on the planet to live in peace and prosperity. We can achieve the four key goals of our global society: environmental sustainability (including a solution to climate change), the stabilization of the world’s population, the end of extreme poverty, and a new era of global cooperation to solve common problems. These are not utopian goals, but they won’t be reached on our current trajectory and with our current economic thinking. Common Wealth points the way to the global course correction we must embrace for the sake of our common future.
Jeffrey D. Sachs is Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and special advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals. He is internationally renowned for his work as an economic advisor to governments and international organizations around the world.