« Welcome to ECON 280 | Main | It's like, I shouldn't count the health benefit from my oatmeal. It's delicious, that should be enough, boy. »



Maggie Phipps

In this article, I think that Jeffrey Sachs was able to respectfully identify specific flaws within the Millennium Development Goals while also recognizing that they did achieve notable success. Sachs identified flaws within the MDGs, such as having no intermediate milestones, as well as a lack of commitment. For example, the MDGs relied on voluntary funding that was announced by individual nations, but many failed to follow through with their financial commitments. I am a little confused on how Sachs believes this problem should be solved. Earlier in the article, Sachs stated that legally binding commitments are the “gold standard of international diplomacy”. Sachs then followed that statement saying that the years it takes to formulate and have each nation agree to these treaties are not worth the security they provide for programs such as the MDGs. My personal confusion arises when Sachs states that financial commitment standards for the SDGs should be enforced by quotas and assessments that each country agrees to. But without any legally binding commitment, could there be a penalty for failing to meet a quota that nations would find significant? It seems that deciding these quotas could also require a significant amount of time, so could creating legal treaties be more efficient as they force countries to keep to their word?

Lee Bernstein

I agree with most of the suggestions and ideas that Jeffrey Sachs puts forward in From Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals, and think they are a worthy cause to work towards. One aspect of his social development category that stood out to me was “Special care should also be taken for children (aged 6–14 years) and youth (aged 15–24 years), especially girls, to ensure that all young people can complete secondary education and make an effective transition from school to skills to the labour market” (2209). I think cultivating the knowledge amongst future generations is one of the most important things that can be focused on within developing countries. An increased focus on making sure all students complete at least secondary education will have long term and positive effects for that nation. This is because they will be able to use their skills and education to help work towards all the other goals that Sachs suggests for the SDG. I also believe that focusing on girls' education will have strong improvements for the country. With more girls attaining more education there will be a larger pool of available workers and people who have the skill sets to work on improvements and technology to continue developing the country.

Sachs also provides suggestions and improvements for technical/structural aspects of the SDG. One that really stood out to me was the idea that there should be “intermediate objectives and milestones with clear dates” (2210). This will allow for countries to have smaller and possibly more attainable goals to work towards. It also would allow them to show their own citizens as well as members of the global community that they are making progress. Additionally, for those that are not making progress it can help to hold them accountable.

Zainab Abiza

Unlike the MDGs, the SDGs do no target only poor countries but rather encourage all countries to play a role in making this world a better place for everyone. I prefer this approach because it focuses more on countries working with each other rather than the wealthy countries 'saving' the poorer ones. Hence, it is more collaborative and puts more responsibility on the wealthy countries to take part of this process.

On the third SDG, I think it is very important to focus on and dedicate the necessary resources to youth, especially girls since there remains a significant gender gap when it comes to educational attainment in different countries around the world. However, this should consist of not only educating the youth but also making sure that they are viable candidates once they enter the job market. One of the big issues in Morocco and across North Africa at the moment is youth unemployment that is mainly due to skills mismatch.

On the fourth condition of sustainable development, I think that engaging the private sector and strengthening collaboration between the private and public sectors can really help advance the SDGs. However, I am a little skeptical about how feasible this is in countries where there is high levels of corruption.

Megan Philips

The section of Jeffery Sachs’ article that I found most insightful was his analysis of the Millennium Development Goals’ strengths and weaknesses, and how we can best use those lessons in future efforts. I was surprised that the MDGs are not legally binding, and that Sachs views this as a benefit to the structure (2012). I have always thought that issues of social improvement would really only be successful if they are enforced due to the idea that individuals often expect the rest of the world to make the major efforts, when in reality we are not doing enough. However, I had never thought about how the political treaty process could potentially create more harm than progress (2012). As Sachs highlights, MDG success relied on people to be motivated by a moral compass (2012). While putting these expectations on people and having them succeed would be great, I can’t help but wonder what the results would have been if countries did take the time to work out a way to regulate everyone’s contributions.

Another aspect of the MDGs that seems odd to me was that there were no smaller goals to check off when trying to achieve the overarching goals (2012). Poverty and social justice are widespread, complex issues, so in order to make it slightly more digestible, I think that the MDGs would have benefitted from having milestones along the way. Without the small steps, the issues are very overwhelming. This summer, as part of my Shepherd Internship, I worked on Financial Capability programs for low-income communities. Although on a much smaller, personal scale, I saw first-hand how important it is to take the goals that clients set and break them down into little pieces in order to help them achieve the financial stability that they were aiming for. Not only does it make the agenda more manageable, but I found that many clients were motivated to get to the next step when they could track their progress this way. I agree with Sachs that the SDG goals should include these benchmarks – it may aid with planning, execution, and results (2012). It will be interesting to see how the world works together to address these SDGs.

Charlie Bovard

I really like how Jeffrey Sachs breaks down the SDGs into cooperative goals that is inclusive of all countries, not just the rich helping the poor. I find it interesting trying to find the government's role in helping the SDGs accomplish their goals in economic development, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. It's ridiculous to think that these SDGs can be accomplished without any government cooperation, but Sachs does make a good point that legally binding treaties or agreements through government intervention aren't effective because of how long they take as well as the lack of enforcement. I disagree with his opinion that governments being "as close as possible to the citizens, giving them maximum freedom" because that only works in an ideal world where governments are more concerned with development than reelection. This relates back to his point suggesting that governments need to be responsible for a wider range of stakeholders than they currently do. The real challenge is figuring out a way to orient governments' concerns to development. Should politicians have to learn about development economics before being in positions of authority? Or should our society force more importance on development in order to give it the attention it deserves?

Harry Shepherd

After reading Sachs' paper, I definitely agree with his statements concerning the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals. He clearly explained how the SDGs are more suitable for the long-term growth and health of the world.

While there were many excellent points that Sachs' brought up, there were a few points that I found unrealistic. First, the suggestion for charging upper and middle income countries a "carbon-tax" paid to the poorer countries doesn't seem realistic. This would require some sort of contract between each country and a central authority, like the IMF, and would be difficult to keep track of. Additionally, I am not certain that countries would like to participate in this. Finally, as a general point, Sachs' proposals would require vast resources and configuration to pull off. I definitely agree with most of the points, and especially that SDGs are better than basic MDGs, but there is a limit to how much can be done.

Thinking long term, sustainable goals are certainly important to consider and act on, it will just take much negotiating and planning.


The key part of Jeffrey Sachs' article is his discussion of the innovations found in the Sustainable Development Goals. While the Millennium Development Goals were, and still are important as a measure of successful development, they require a next step. The SDGs provided that next step by broadening the scope of what countries should focus on to achieve true development. A large part of the argument behind the SDGs is "[t]he urgency of the triple bottom line." Maintaining the balance between economic development, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion really is the challenge as the global population rises to nearly seven and a half billion. Sachs takes this rise in population and focuses on increasing environmental sustainability. I would agree with him to some extent, but am more concerned with the social inclusion goal. This goal attempts to address the problems found when not all actors in an economy are equal. In fact, if there was more economic equality, historically disenfranchised economic actors would have the ability to have a larger effect on environmental sustainability. I would argue that the people who care more about environmental sustainability are not the rich oil executives. If more young people with passion for protecting the environment and the ability to use technology could access their economies then one would see more more environmental sustainability and equality.

I agree with Sachs when he argues for the importance of good governance and would add that this starts by increasing democratic principles. Political decisions need to be made by more people than just a few autocrats whose priorities are not based on what is good for the majority of people. Regardless of what specific changes need to happen across the globe, there is no doubt that all three of these goals are interconnected.

Emma Richardson

My initial reaction to this reading was positive. In line with what Megan and Maggie have said, it is very useful to look to the successes and failures of the MDGs when considering implementation of the SDGs. History doesn’t tend to repeat itself, but it certainly rhymes. I agreed strongly with the triple bottom line approach suggested as well as the point to involve the private sector more fully and was confused about the contrasting successes and failures of leaving the goals as voluntary.

The triple bottom line suggested was simple yet profound. It should come as no surprise that economic development, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion are endlessly intertwined. It only makes sense that these ideas be addressed together for the greatest possible outcome. Regarding social inclusion, fairness is an idea that Adam Smith believed was integral to a successful market environment and investments in women have been some of the best catalysts for developing countries. For these reasons, social inclusion is perhaps the most important part of this bottom line, despite it being listed last.

Sachs did a great job of illuminating the huge opportunity cost of not really involving the private sector in the MDGs. As was explained elsewhere in this piece, with burgeoning economic development comes a reduced role of aid. In other words, there is less and less benefit to throwing money at this issue. While I feel that the ways the private sector could involve itself in developing countries should have been more thoroughly explained, I understand part of the attractiveness of this paper is its condense nature. CSR is becoming more and more necessary for businesses to maintain the consumer’s respect. As part of businesses CSR activities, there should be a bigger push to reach out internationally, in my opinion.

The voluntary nature of the MDGs is listed as both a success and a failure, which threw me for a bit of a loop. I understand that these rules gained some support for their moral/practical tone, but ultimately there was not global action because this was an optional task. I think that for something as serious as economic development, there should be legally binding goals.

Jordan Watson

Jeffrey Sachs’ article was extremely insightful given the fact that it was written in June of 2012 before the Sustainable Development Goals were officially decided on by the UN (later that month) and put into place (January 2015). It was interesting to read his opinions on the the MDGs and his predictions for SDGs and compare it with what we know today. In the article, Sachs proposes four SDGs that focus on the broad categories of economic development, environmental sustainability, social inclusion, and governance for sustainable development. While all of these categories are addressed within the current SDGs, the 17 SDGs go into much more detail (i.e. goal 4 focuses solely on quality education, goal 6 focuses on clean water and sanitation, etc.). Although the SDGs are frequently critiqued today for having too many goals and objectives, I believe having multiple goals has enabled countries to more easily identify specific areas where they can improve their sustainable development.

When Sachs critiques the MDGs, he mentions that sustainability needs the leadership of the private sector alongside the public sector and civil society (2210). While I agree with his claim, I am skeptical whether such worldwide, all encompassing development goals could be easily transferrable to individual companies within the private sector. I think that the goals are excellent guidelines to look at on a national level, but they fall short on the local level and in the private sector. By improving how the private sector utilizes the SDGs, I believe there will be significant sustainability improvement worldwide.

Nick Anders

In this article, Jeffrey Sachs raises many interesting and valid points regarding the Sustainable Development Goals, the most intriguing being the different role wealthy nations are to play compared to their involvement in the Millennium Development Goals. Before, these developed countries were looked at to lend a helping hand to the struggling nations, but when it comes to sustainability, every country is impacted and has a stake in what is at hand. Because of this, Sachs argues that it is imperative that all nations are willing to do their part in preserving and repairing the globe. Furthermore, Sachs emphasizes the significance of focusing on the young and breeding the next generation for success, preparing them to enter the labor market and succeed. I think that we can go a step further and instill the necessary knowledge within children that is required to help the Earth. By teaching them at a young age the sustainability issues we are facing, they will be more likely to think and act in a more environmentally friendly way when they grow up.

Like Sachs mentioned, I think it is extremely important to implement intermediate goals along the way, something the MDG’s did not do. Because the plan he laid out is on such a large scale, it will be difficult to act on it efficiently without any sorts of checks throughout the process. Additionally, by introducing these, it gives nations that are on the fence about joining a chance to get a glimpse of the effects of taking action, hopefully propelling them into assisting in this global cause. Sachs’ also mentions the vital role that the private sector is going to play in the success of these SDG’s. Getting significant cooperation out of this sector might be a little more difficult than he anticipates as many companies act on what is best for them, not worrying about those around them necessarily. They may also be hesitant because of the costs of transitioning to a more eco-friendly structure, such as using low-carbon energy systems. I think if companies were offered some sort of financial compensation of any magnitude for integrating sustainability into their company, a larger portion of the private sector is likely to participate in achieving these SDG’s.

Tom Kellogg

I agree with most of what Sachs is arguing with in his suggestions of Sustainable Development Goals for 2015-2030. I feel that his inclusion of lessons and principles from Millennium Development Goals in his evaluation and suggestion is especially well conceived. His approach to the private sector, encouraging firms to support SDGs in their “policies, production processes, and engagement with stakeholders” (2210), is a very realistic and hopeful tenant. Sachs realizes that although government may get together and decide upon goals, the larger portion of our world’s economy is the private corporations that employ people, make products, and shape our world. Emphasizing the necessity of the private sector’s commitment to the SDGs is one of Sachs strengths, and I do not feel as if this article would carry as much weight if he failed to mention the private sector’s importance. However, I do think that a few of his goals, specifically SDG 3 and 4, overestimate the inherent good of governments and the people running them. SDG 3 mentions that governments should enable all citizens “irrespective of class, gender, ethnic origin, religion, and race” (2209). This is a noble recommendation, yet I feel as if it will struggle to be implemented, as governments, and people in general, often do what is best for themselves and the people that they consider “like” them, therefore excluding minorities and dissimilar individuals. SDG 3 is noble and we should strive toward its implementation, yet I fear that it may not be as practical as Sachs or I would like. SDG 4 does seem to be a bit idealistic as well; it states that “governments at all levels will cooperate to promote sustainable development worldwide” (2209). This principled approach to government promotion of sustainability seems to overestimate the efficacy that smaller countries and even local governments have in promoting development on a worldwide scale. Given the fact that many countries are trying to assist their own citizens in overcoming poverty, I do not feel that every government would promote sustainable development externally. Therefore, it just be left up to the countries that are already well-off to carry out the standards detailed by Sachs.


In his article “From Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals,” Jeffery Sachs effectively explains both the purposes, issues and benefits of MDGs and SDGs as well as the differences between the two development strategies. A key aspect of transitioning from MDGs to SDGs that Sachs mentions is the scope of the countries that the two different goal systems involve. The movement from MDGs, which “were targets mainly for poor countries,” to SDGs which eliminate this socioeconomic better and rather focus on “what all countries together should do for the global wellbeing of this generation and those to come.” This stands as one of the most critical impacts of SDGs because in light of the environmental crisis Sachs mentions, such as greenhouse emissions and deforestation to name a few, the universal involvement targeted by SDGs should yield impactful results in comparison to the MDGs which targeted the poor. The four SDGs Sachs discusses in his article not only strive to provide all the basic and governmental needs to all people, but additionally seek to make all societies conducive to the peoples’ wellbeing and capabilities. These three SDGs help facilitate the other SDG of improving on environmental issues. The interaction of the four SDGs, as well as the universal appeal of these SDGs regardless of wealth, stand as strong goals for the future. One final aspect of SDGs that I believe to be critical in their success is the inclusion of periodic milestones that MDGs failed to utilize. The 15 year intermediate milestones Sachs utilizes for the SDGs would allow the public to not only see the benefits more first hand, but also periodically modify the strategies to best achieve the goals.

Maddox Wilkinson

The Millennium Development Goals marked a huge step in the right direction for the global community. I found this article to be very informative as Sach’s highlights the role the MDG’s played in the formation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the lessons learned along the way. That being said, there are still many unaddressed issues with the SDGs. Each country agrees with the triple bottom line approach, however even Sach’s admits that everyone’s interpretation of objectives within those categories differs globally. This makes sense because every country is different with differing needs, but who is determining a country’s “needs” and are they truly promoting sustainable development in that nations best interest?

Additionally, the issue of accountability seems like it could be a major issue moving forward. I liked Sach’s idea of introducing intermediate milestones and think this will both encourage people to carefully record their progress, while show them progress is possible and attainable. However, some regimes are very corrupt and may report inaccurate statistics. On top of that, if a country begins experiencing hard times they may decide to cut back on the resources they are committing to sustainable development. Who will be able to decide if a country can do this and will others follow if a special case is made for one? Moral accountability appears to be the easiest solution but also the most idealistic.

Claire McCutcheon

The Sustainable Development Goals are a constructive response to the short comings and successes of the Millennium Development Goals. Hopefully, implementing a new set of goals will help maintain the momentum achieved by the MDGs, while correcting for its issues. Jeffrey Sachs does well to point out the flaws of the MDGs, especially by making note of the lack of milestone measurement. Even still, I imagine many of the SDGs will struggle to be measured empirically.

While these goals hold a great deal of optimism, they rely heavily upon good faith. The “triple bottom line approach,” is inspiring and sounds stable- but perhaps also contradictory. Economic development does not inherently bode well for social inclusion, nor environmental sustainability. This especially applies to countries in which wealth is particularly unevenly distributed. For example, the desire to correct for loss of biodiversity; often when there is economic growth, the housing market does well. When the housing market does well, timber is cut to build more houses. In this case, economic development has a negative impact on biodiversity and environmental preservation. In developing, resource poor nations it is difficult enough to provide quality infrastructure, let alone operating with environmental concerns. Additionally, the wide range of countries, from economic leaders to developing nations, makes the goals greatly varied in their potential for success. When it comes to measuring such successes, they will need to be compared across great economic and social divides.

Katrina Lewis

I think Jeffrey Sachs makes an important point when he defends the implementation of the SDGs, saying “the world should aim not to merely to achieve the MDGs where they have not been met, but to carry on with the task initiated at the very start of the UN itself” (2208). I think that distinguishing between the SDGs and the MDGs is also helpful because by branding the SDGs differently, Sachs distances them from the criticism that the MDGs received, which improves the chance of the SDGs being widely adopted.

Sachs does a solid job addressing the shortcomings of the MDGs. The most significant correction I think he made in structuring the SDGs was adding status check points throughout the 15-year period because I think the goals are too big to achieve without first breaking them down into smaller, more manageable pieces. I think the other revisions he makes are valid, too, but I would argue there are two areas where he could have made more of a change to the structure of the SDGs after observing the MDGs. First, I think that the SDGs should lay out different goals for developed versus developing countries. I understand that the SDGs are worldwide goals, but I think that developed and developing countries should have different expectations laid out for them because they start from very different places. It is not reasonable to expect developing countries to achieve the same goals as developed countries in the same period of time. Second, I think that the SDGs should be prioritized, which was a common criticism of the MDGs, as the textbook points out. I think that if the SDGs were prioritized, several goals would be wholly completed as opposed to a lot of goals partially completed, which would be a more productive use of resources.

Eduardo Corona

While this was a great article with very interesting information, I would like to comment on how effective the SDGs seem and how ambitious they appear. At first glace, the SDG’s seem extremely ambitious and unrealistic. Even though they are goals, I think they would be more effective if they didn’t include the goal of every nation/ government/ community achieving something, but instead if the goal was to see improvement from every nation. I think the goals would be more effective if they separated developed and developing countries and gave them different goals and standards since it will be much harder for developing countries to achieve the goals stated. Even though I feel as if Sachs stated many problems and not enough specific examples of solutions, I think one of his most effective points was how to use the results, both achievements and shortcomings, of the MDG’s to improve the SDGs. The only aspect of this section that I questioned was the fourth weakness of MDGs that the SDGs could improve on. I think Sach’s idea of investment is a little unrealistic because if how hard it would be to hold every country accountable and I think setting a strict percentage of GDP to be dedicated to official development assistance is tough because of how much different countries’ GDPs vary and how poor nations with low GDPs would not raise very much and they are the ones that need the most investment. Overall, I enjoyed reading this paper and thought his observations on world problems were very interesting.

Lucas Longo

One of Jeffery Sachs’ ideas that really stood out to me was the role of governance and its importance in achieving the SDGs. I took a comparative institutional economics class last year which really opened my eyes to the massive role that institutions can play in the development of a country. I remember one article that claimed that when a country had extractive institutions in place, a natural resource boom could actually end up harming the country. While this is just one study, it demonstrates how economic theories are important to keep in mind when planning sustainable development goals, and I think in some cases it is critical to tailor goals to a specific country’s development needs, in addition to the broader MDGs and SDGs. Sachs touched on this by stressing the importance of all levels of governance rather than emphasizing one key area of focus, and I think this more holistic approach should not be understated.

I also found it intriguing that half of the low-income individuals in the world live in middle-income countries. This is encouraging as we know that those countries have the resources to produce tangible change. Hopefully policymakers will use this information as an incentive for the timely creation of SDGs in order help guide these countries on their developmental path.

Turner Banwell

Sach’s piece is an interesting commentary on the success of MDGs, priorities for SDGs, and the best ways to build a better future for the world. I completely agree with his assertion that today – perhaps more than ever – there is an increasing need for ideas promoting efficient, sustainable development across the globe. In theory, I believe a focus on what he defines as three broad categories, economic development, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion, would lead to a more developed, cohesive world. Yet, and perhaps this is too narrow minded or cynical, I am hesitant to believe that his recommendations can ever feasibly be accomplished, let alone completed by 2030.

Take a part of SDG 1 for example, “by 2030… all the world’s people will have access to safe and sustainable water and sanitation” (2208). Ideally, it’d be terrific if this is the case, and maybe this will actually happen. However, the actually statistics indicate we still have a long way to go. Today, 1 in 9 people lack access to safe water, every 90 seconds a child dies from a water-related disease, 1 in 3 schools lack access to basic water and sanitation, and 1 and 3 people lack access to a toilet (water.org/our-impact/water-crisis/). While this is just one critique to his overall suggestion, I think it serves as example of how far-fetched some of his goals actually are.

I don’t mean for this to sound overly pessimistic or cynical, but I do think that aiming for less lofty goals might be more practical and lead to a better chance for success. This is where I think his idea of having intermediate milestones – something MDGs did not include – would be very beneficial. In general, I believe people are encouraged by positive and good results. Furthermore, I think people would be much more likely to commit to helping with these issues if the goal laid out in front of them seemed achievable.


I thought this piece was pretty well written in its brevity, and I’m sure there is a lot more that can be written about this. While reading through it, I couldn’t help but keep thinking of the expression “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life.” From the dialogue in the reading, it seemed to me like the MDGs were more in line with the first half of the expression. Where as, the SDGs are more in tune with the second half. Under the MDGs, the rich countries kind of sat back and helped the poor primarily out of sympathy and pride. Now, I feel the goal of the SDGs is to not only help the poor out of sympathy, but also to teach the entire world (rich and poor countries alike) how to more appropriately and efficiently use our resources for the betterment of human nature.

I do agree with the author's point that the new framework needs to be a legally binding set of rules. As this seems to be a much more effective way of getting many nations, states, groups, etc. on board. This further plays into my belief that proper and consistent governance is the most important aspect of this situation. Leaders are in great position to influence their people in an effective manner, and to keep those principle and attitudes for long periods of time. And as the author noted, these leaders can help drive the technological and social change required to make the SDGs successful.

Sam Boxley

Sachs’ discussion on the successes and failures of the MDGs and ways in which the SDGs can build on those experiences is definitely a step in the right direction, but in some cases I’m not sure if the path to get there is very clear or necessarily feasible. I think his point that simplicity proved vital to the success of MSGs while still emphasizing “very specific and actionable measures as the keys to success” made the goals accessible and straightforward. The criticisms he provides of the MSGs, though, in some cases do not provide adequate solutions to the issues he has laid out. I thought Sachs made a good point in saying that moving forward the SDGs should have intermediate milestones, as this holds governments and corporations more responsible for keeping up with commitments. The issue of how “the private sector should be crucially engaged from the very start”, though, is where I feel like his plan for SDGs gets a little murky. While large multinationals certainly have abundant resources that could be allocated to this global humanitarian effort, I feel as though it is a bit idealistic to expect many corporations to divert much of their attention to sustainability. Sachs even admits that some corporations’ operations are inherently opposed to sustainability, so I feel like in order for the private sector to really make a meaningful impact there needs to be some sort of enforcement policy. Lastly, Sachs calls on societies worldwide to buy into this global effort of sustainable development. While countries will certainly participate, my initial response is that states will be more inclined to spend the majority of their money on domestic issues. That being said, only a small portion of national income needs to be allocated to the SDGs in order to make an impact, so it is entirely possible that I am completely wrong there and am taking an overly cynical stance.

Andrew Zandomenego

“To secure the basic material needs—and human rights—of everybody on the planet,” is no easy task. As Jeffrey Sachs points out, with all players onboard, the likeliness of our world migrating towards that goal is not unlikely. Although the Millennium Development Goals have played a significant role in combatting poverty for the past decade and a half, it is refreshing for me to discover that there are people critically analyzing the current system in a pursuit to advance it further.

Sachs introduces several intriguing suggestions, SDG’s, on how to better serve the mission outlined by the UN. Sachs’ emphasis on the interaction between technology and humans is a big takeaway from this piece. As he mentions, “Technological advance is threatening the access of many people to good jobs rather than enhancing it.” I believe there are more pros than cons attached to the growing role of technology in society. As it pertains to poverty-stricken communities, improved technological advancements will contribute towards easier access to healthcare, heightened access to food and water, and educational opportunities. However, it is crucial to note that one steep downside of society’s growing dependence on technology is the fate of the population occupying lower-skill positions that could easily be replaced in the future. While Sachs does not rest on the topic for long, I would be curious to hear his thoughts on how that role can be redefined.

Sachs also delves into the environmental crossroads the world is facing. With projections of the population growing by another 1 billion by 2024, society has reached a point in which it needs to successfully preserve its natural resources to sustain life. Sachs touches on fertility, mentioning that “Households in high-fertility settings should be empowered to adopt rapid and voluntary reductions of fertility to benefit themselves, their children, and the local and global economy and environment.” This is an interesting point, but one that I feel would be too difficult to communicate to poverty-stricken populations. Keeping a close eye on the race between the rising population and depleting base of natural resources is not enough. As Sachs mentions, it is up to all players, big and small, public and private, to make the difference.

Heeth Varnedoe

Sachs’s discussion of the sustainable development goals (SGDs) gives crucial insight into the challenges that sustainable economic development will face over the next half century. The SGDs identified by the UN will likely play a crucial role in increasing human wellbeing across the globe. Given President Trump’s attitudes toward sustainability and the developing world as evinced by his deregulation, withdrawal from the Paris agreement, and remarks concerning some developing nations, I fear that the United States may not be committed to supporting the achievement of these goals. While the impact of climate change will be felt all around the world, developing nations will suffer the most. Furthermore, developed nations and emerging economies such as India and China are responsible for most of the world’s emissions. If the United States does not take an active leadership role in promoting sustainable development, other countries will likely see no incentive to contribute their resources to these goals.
Sustainable development will be a difficult task, as often times sustainable practices drive up costs and can act as a hindrance to the economy. But Sachs correctly points out that in the coming years there likely will be no genuine development if it is not also moving toward a more sustainable planet. It will be a difficult task for policymakers to identify the appropriate mechanisms for development that serve the dual purpose of promoting economic development and sustainability.
Despite these challenges, the SGDs are important nonetheless. While a critic may argue that the goals lack specificity, they have an inherent value as an articulation of humanity’s potential to improve well-being and expand human capacity around the world.

Maddie Geno

While I find the MDGs and SDGs to be goals necessary to setting countries onto a path of sustainability, I find them to be extremely over-optimistic and unrealistic. America is one of the most developed and regulated countries in the world, yet we still battle with environmental and resource issues daily. We have yet to provide market answers to many of the pollution problems we face such as air and water pollution, mining, and species conservation. To ask developing countries, who struggle with extreme poverty rates, to take part in a global set of goals aimed at reducing our global footprint is asking a lot. Furthermore, many of these countries may not even have the strong and structured government in place needed to enforce any sort of move towards sustainability. If developing countries struggle to provide their citizens with basic needs, would they have the resources or the time to simultaneously make drastic changes to their methods of growth and production? America leapt to wealth during the industrialization period, and while poverty was by no means eliminated, the country achieved a new standard of living it had yet to experience. This period was not only marked by wealth, but by rampant pollution and depletion of environmental resources. While I fully support sustainable growth, I cant help but wonder if there's some sort of tradeoff between development and sustainability. It seems like many of the highly developed countries of today have reached this standard of development at the cost of the environment. Does enforcing sustainability prevent large scale development of struggling countries?

Paul Callahan

After reading Sach's paper it was clear that the expansion and improvement of the MDGs were realized in the new SDGs. The expansion of more goals allow the world to focus better on the exact problems the world faces and the more direct routes we can take to solve them. It also seemed clear that there was more participation from outside groups which led to the diversified set of goals. What I didn't like about the MDGs is that they set targets that once completed, didn't allow room to keep on growing. Once the "half-way" goals were completed there wasn't more push to keep on improving world health. We also learned that hunger and poverty are very different things and solving one doesn't necessarily mean solving the other. In the "Economic Lives of the Poor" article we read for Wednesday we saw that poverty and hunger weren't directly linked. But now with further understanding of nutrition and hunger the SDGs make two separate goals, one for poverty and one for hunger.
Overall, sustainable development and the goal to reach 0 hunger and poverty is very hard to achieve and with the problems that foreign aid face such as corruption and Trumps' desire to limit it, it will be a slow and arduous process. Luckily, it seems as if the world is more committed then ever to solve the worst problems.

Elly Cosgrove

What I found to be most notable about this viewpoint by Jeffrey Sachs is that Sustainable Development Goals "elude the entire planet." Unlike the Millennium Development Goals, where rich countries assist poor countries through finances and technology, SDGs present goals and challenges for all countries to face together. I also really appreciated Sachs' idea of a "triple bottom line," those including the categories economic development, environmental sustainability and social inclusion. These SDGs reach beyond what MDGs addressed. While MDGs addressed poverty, hunger, disease, unmet schooling, gender inequality, and environmental degradation, SDGs took all of these a step further. I especially appreciated SDG 2: "all nations will adopt economic strategies that increasingly build on sustainable best practice technologies, appropriate market incentives, and individual responsibility."
Sachs' emphasis on the role of technology, government and the private sector was also interesting. I think having intermediate milestones for SDGs, something MDGs did not have, is completely necessary. A large part of these intermediate stages is the feedback and data that technology provides. Although I think that proposing all government at every level worldwide should cooperate to promote sustainable development is a beautiful idea, it is very optimistic and ambitious.
Overall, I think if every country in the world worked to achieve these SDGs, then global conditions would improve dramatically. Sachs also did a nice job critiquing and applauding the impact of MDGs over the course of 15 years.

The comments to this entry are closed.