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08/25/2020

Comments

Hayden Ludt

Sachs writes a very interesting article discussing the new plan being put forth by the UN where they are transitioning from the Millennium Development Goals to these new Sustainable Development Goals. Sachs offers his own input that there are three main areas these new goals should focus; economic development, environmental security, and social inclusion. Before he goes into further details about this Triple Bottom Line, he begins by commenting further on the MDGs and the areas in which they saw success and the parts where failure occurred. As a whole, the MDGs were very successful. Many countries met most of their goals, with some meeting all of their goals years before many thought possible. However, it was not all positive results as some countries found themselves further left behind from the rest of the world surging forward in Globalization. He accounts these failures to the countries themselves but also certain wealth countries who failed to hold up their end of the promised agreement. The main difference for Sachs between the MDGs and the SDGs is sustainable growth not just blind development. With the world population set to hit 8 billion in 2024, Sachs stresses the idea of climate change and the soon approaching food instability issue. He notices countries like China and India with massive populations and growing income per capita which will result in an even larger global demand for food, especially grain and meat. Before the end of this analysis, Sachs also makes sure to make note of some of the global shortcomings being seen in developing countries. He warns of educational disparities and the generational effects those can have. As well as gender biases and gaps widening in rural areas. He finishes up his article strongly by saying these new guidelines can work and be beneficial to all but they will require good governance and dutiful oversight by rich and poor countries alike.

Matthew Todd

My apologies for getting this in late. I thought that Sachs' article was very interesting in terms of the describing both the MPG and the SDG. I had experience studying the latter in my high school Geography classes, but the former was new to me. Sachs explains that there is a widespread view that the MPGs did achieve notable progress in terms of fighting poverty, hunger, and disease. However, he mentions that with the SDGs we see many new actors under the scope of the goals, which no longer just target those experiencing the most poverty, hunger and disease. Sachs proposes that with the SDGS, that they group them by what he describes as the "triple bottom line", which is comprised of economic development, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion.

Sachs mentions that the private sector participating in the efforts is paramount to meeting the SDGs, which is something that I find to be a bit optimistic unless certain incentives or disincentives are introduced in terms of policy. For instance, I don't see a company limiting emissions out of the goodness of their hearts, a carbon tax, as Sachs mentioned would be much more effective as it steers private companies in the right direction. Or a government providing tax breaks for companies that do x for the SDGs. Without the presence of incentives I see widespread private sector action to be a pipedream.

An idea that Sachs had was to up the "real time data" that we see in terms of efforts to achieve SDGs, which I feel would be very effective in terms of allowing more concentration in our efforts, and perhaps in inspiring more private charity, people seem to love the GofundMe esque targets to hit, and more importantly allow us to see which countries are living up to their commitments and pulling their weight. I think that if the people around the world could have a better view of the SDGs and what we needed to reach them we might see a lot more interest and engagement that could begin to influence both nations and private companies.

Lastly, I find this especially interesting to consider as it seems likely that COVID has upped the ante, acting as a considerable stressor all over the world and making the SDGs even harder to hit. I hope that Sachs' optimism is well founded, and a concerted global effort is possible and we will see unprecedented levels of cooperation to achieve what would be a huge win for humanity in meeting the SDGs as well as possible. I wonder about the possibility of continued virus or environment related issues that might be linked to the climate leading to more nations placing the SDGs higher in their priorities.

Joey Dickinson

As others have mentioned, I am a bit skeptical of Sachs' idea that the private sector could be mobilized to support the SDGs (to use Matthew's terminology) 'out of the goodness of their hearts.' There are many instances of the private sector influencing public policy which lead me to believe that this is just too optimistic. I would imagine that policy incentives would need to be enacted in order to coerce the private sector to support (directly or indirectly) these goals. Surely, that would only happen if the government itself was supportive of these goals; however as Sachs mentions in the article, the MDGs have previously received huge support and verbal commitment from various states that haven't followed through with the promised action, which leads me to believe that the UN would need to provide greater incentives to countries to support the SDGs rather than on purely moral grounds, and we know that the UN isn't great at that. All of this leads me to believe that as practical as Sachs may try to be making his suggestions, more than anything we need a complete moral overhaul of our culture of hyper-consumption. All of that being said, I do think that his presentation of the SDGs is a very useful extension of the MDGs if garnering the support is possible, which it might be at the individual consumer level: it is clear that Millenials and Gen-Z have much more concern for the environment, for example, than previous generations and ethical consumerism seems to be 'trendy' as of late. (My apologies for the late submission.)

YoungJae

As someone who didn't have any previous exposure to MDGs and SDGs, I found Sachs' piece to be engaging and highly interesting. It was especially encouraging to see the world's nations shifting gears and learning to focus more on solving climate change and other environmental ills that could potentially devastate ill-prepared developing countries. As someone pursuing an actuarial career, I understand the effects climate change can have on poor countries. As our climate changes and natural disasters happen more frequently, it can become harder and harder to predict when the next storm/flood/etc. will strike and how much financial damage it will cause. This is where an actuary's expertise comes in, and a developed, wealthy country will be able to prepare for such financial damage to a certain extent. The real problems will lie within the underdeveloped countries, which often lack the financial resources and knowledge to prepare for large-scale natural devastation. The poorest countries will always be the most vulnerable to climate change, so it is great to see the world making an effort to achieve sustainable development and protect these countries.
That being said, the steps Sachs presents to achieve this ambitious goal seems...well, too ambitious. In order for SDGs to work and foster economic development, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion, too many good things must happen. I think that, for a piece of literature that is very optimistic and hopeful, this paper provides too little detail and specifics of how to achieve these means. It is nice to know the different requirements that need be fulfilled in order for sustainable development to happen (SDG 1, SDG 2, SDG 3...), but how exactly should these requirements be fulfilled? And how likely is it that these requirements will be fulfilled? For example, at one point Sachs mentions the importance of a "good" government that lacks corruption. Yes, having a good government is a nice thought, but how does one turn a corrupt government good, and what happens if this step isn't completed? Many countries like Cambodia doesn't develop past their current states because of an incompetent government that doesn't care for their people as much as they should. What happens to these countries? Do they get left behind in this great pursuit of betterment? I just think Sachs could have made these optimistic ideas a little more realistic and doable by being more specific as to how to approach these sticky obstacles.

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