The End of Poverty

Concerned with the legacy of environmental threats and depleted resources that we are leaving to this and future generations, including my two children aged 7 and 5 years old, I came across an excerpt of the book The End of Poverty by Jeff Sachs in the TIME Magazine of 14 March 2005. The paper outlines the most significant issues regarding the concept of Sustainable Development in today’s society.

Jeff Sachs appeals to the concepts of Intra-generational justice for development, where the objectives on the three dimensions of economy, environment and society are the reduction of poverty, environmental justice (laws and regulation) and democracy and participation.

After analysing the recommendations made by Jeff Sachs, I realised that even the experts in SDCA have omitted important factors affecting the EEE concept. Jeff Sachs shows one way of eliminating poverty by 2025; it describes the responsibilities of governments, organisations, corporations and individuals. However, as David McAdam wisely concluded in his Thought Leaders or Corporations blog, it will be up to the individual to lead the transition to a society where the future generations are not impacted by today’s actions.

Coming from a developing economy, Colombia, my footprint was less intensive than most of my peers in the QUT EMBA, in fact was below the 7.6 average of Australia but way above the 1.3 of Colombia. It is easy for you compare against a standard like Australia, but much more difficult for you to understand how the developing economies struggle in today’s world to maintain acceptable living standards.

However, even David might recognise, the role of corporate and government institutions must be the implementation of policies that allow developing economies easy access to technology and health. Example, genetically modified foods are controversial but you cannot deny the potential benefits for all, if crops are more growth (higher throughput per Ha) and service efficient (vitamins and vaccines) whilst reducing the maintenance factor.

Jeff Sachs tries hard to make the reader understand the importance of the Growth factor on the EEE, but neglects the other three: services, maintenance and eco-efficiency. The comments about education seem to fall in the category of formal education and tend to forget about the culture. Sachs recognises that having access to information is vital for any developing economy in order to understand its place and role in the world; but this might result in some kind of alienation if education is standardised around the globe. Is this the price society has to pay for eradicating poverty around the world?

In the same TIME Magazine edition on pp. 51-53, there is a very insightful article explaining the role of the poor in today’s democracies and the potential impact on the world’s socio-political climate. The article cites as an example India, but this could be extrapolated to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In the near future the industrialised countries may have to deal with individuals, leaders representing the poor (the great majority in most developing economies), and the world will see a new wave of development in which the poor will try to gain access to the same living standards of industrialised countries. Developed economies must change their patterns of consumption (paradigm shift), or the world will see a trend towards non-sustainable development.

In order to end poverty, every individual needs to internalise the externalities surrounding it and acknowledge and take action against the damage we, as individuals, are causing to the natural capital (planet) and the society (people), at the expense of profits for only a few individuals.

Education, Technology Development and Technology Transfer to poor communities must be the everyday activity of individuals, governments, organisations and corporations. The concepts of EEE could be the standard around the world for the evaluation of projects to measure the CSR. Worldwide implementation of the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) and the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) would aid monitor the real wealth of the country and the impact in the triple bottom line (people, planet and profit).

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Posted in economic development, government policy, sustainable development
One comment on “The End of Poverty
  1. jeremy says:

    A thought-provoking piece Alexey. This is why I always like to talk about SD in the context of the international political economy. We need to “think globally, act locally”, but there are huge geo-political ramifications to not thinking globally at all! This is where supranational agencies might have a role to play although, right now, they are pretty impotent given (i) their ideological persuasion, and (ii) the fact they are so dependent on the US for funds (the country least likely to be generous!).

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