Politics have lost control of the momentous challenges of our day: the time has come for religion to have the courage to push public decisions into new direcctions. Jeffrey Sachs, American economist and one of the highest international authorities on economic development and the fight against poverty, had this to say at a round table discussion devoted to “Sustainable development and the fight against poverty in the XXI century” held today in Antwerp at the International Interfaith Conference “Peace is the Future” organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio. Sachs compared his theories to the opinions of businessmen, philosphers, scientists and religious leaders. He called the environmental and social situation “catastrophic”, of proportions that few people recognize, especially policy makers, who contributed to creating the problem with bad choices and have lost control. Nor do industrial leaders recognize it because the market economy was created to solve the problems of the wealthy. If it is not guided, it will never produce a tendency towards equality. Also present at the panel discussion was Christophe De Margerie, president and Managing Director of Total, who claimed that the French oil company played an important role in concretely bringing about a change of mentality. Sachs admitted that there were positive examples, but he also said that he often had to deal with rigid positions of companies that deny the existence of the problem of global warming and refuse to make any effort to achieve sustainable development. The fact remains, he added, that while the world population grows, we are losing time: today we have the technological capacity to easily solve mankind’s biggest problems, but no one takes the responsibility to reverse the process. Neither the economy nor geo-politics will achieve this, only a new value system can help. Sachs said this was the most vital call ever made to religions of cultural figures to take charge.
An American economist, professor and editorialist, Jeffrey Sachs has collaborated for over twenty years with Harvard University and is presently director of the Earth Institute of Columbia University. He has been an advisor for economic strategy in 125 countries; he has received more than twenty honoris causa degrees and several awards and recognitions all over the world. Among his numerous international mandates was that of Special Advisor to the Secretary General of the United Nations for Development Goals of the Millennium.