The End of Poverty – Jeffery Sachs

Yes Yes I know class has finished but I had a sneaky suspicion that you would come back for at least one more look at the collective thoughts and enlightened posts from your class mates, and by being the last post you are more likely to remember to read this book 🙂
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The End of Poverty, how we can make it happen in our lifetime by Jeffery Sachs. I have to admit that I own a blackmarket copy, bought off a poor street vendor in Nepal, the title jumped out at me as I was picking my way though the panhandlers and mothers begging for milk money. My personal copy is filled with bookmarks, highlights and dogeared pages as I have gone back and re-read again and again the confronting challenges that we as a citizen of the world face. This book is a ‘ must read’ for me and I would encourage you to make it one of yours.
Throughout the class one of the key issues we raised time and time again was that the fate of the world and hence the adoption of sustainable development strategies is the responsibility of all of us, it is not a localised issue. The same can be said for the substantial human capital which is ailing under the oppression of poverty.
When looking at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs it is easy to see that when people are struggling to eat, drinking putrid water, razing forests for firewood for warmth, or breathing toxic fumes while they dismantle e-waste, they do not have the capacity to see past their (and their families) short-terms needs for survival to participate in the global sustainable challenge.
So much has been done on a theoretical level to resolve the worlds chronic poverty but so little has been done in reality. As a world we (rich countries) promised in 2002 at the Monterrey Financing for Development Conference “to make concrete efforts towards the target of 0.7%” (of their national income in international aid) in reality that what has been delivered (2005) is less than half of that. For a more comprehensive breakdown on a country level delivery on this promise go here
The challenge is not about bringing these countries up to the standard of the rich nations, but to help them get out of the poverty cycle and on to the first rung of the global economic market. To do this they need not only the sustainance but also the education so that they can start their own economic recovery.
Adam Smith a political economist and moral philosopher from the 17th century stated that the whole of society is at risk when any segment of society is poorly educated.
The analogy of “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime” (author unknown) is only relevant when there are adequate fish stocks available. Most poverty nations have depleted fish stocks (food), the soil is barren and the water polluted. It will be the challenge of the rich nations to help these countries get their natural resources back in balance, and this will mean changes to our own resource consumption.
One of the key messages is that Jeffery insists that this world crisis is resolveable but it is only through the collective action of the rich that it can be solved.
Jeffery Sachs is world renown for his tenacity and dedication to the global poverty challenge, there are endless articles and references to his work and I would encourage you to read further on him, the UN Milennium Project and the Earth Institute.
Interview with Jeffery Sachs for MotherJones an independent not for profit online news feed here

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Posted in community, economic development, food, sustainable development, water
One comment on “The End of Poverty – Jeffery Sachs
  1. jeremy says:

    Picked this up myself on Saturday morning in Thailand (paying full price!). Looks like a good read.

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