NEW YORK, June 18, 2015 – Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), has been awarded the 2015 Blue Planet Prize. The prize is presented each year to two individuals or organizations worldwide to recognize major efforts to solve global environmental problems. Many consider it to be the world’s highest such honor. The other recipient this year is Cambridge University economist emeritus Sir Partha Dasgupta (also a member of the Earth Institute Advisory Board). The prize is given by Japan’s Asahi Glass Foundation.
The foundation said Sachs has “re-appraised and proposed concrete solutions to the persistence of extreme poverty in various parts of the world, and the common problems that accompany it, such as lack of education, heavy disease burden, societal fragmentation, human insecurity and violent conflict.” It cites his role as advisor to United Nations Secretaries-General Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals, and his calls for governments, businesses and individuals to enact reforms to end environmentally destructive pursuit of wealth in favor of sustainable development and fairer distribution of resources.
“I am profoundly honored to receive this award together with Prof. Dasgupta,” said Sachs upon the announcement. “I am especially gratified to receive it this year, as the world transitions from the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals. We have a chance in our time to end extreme poverty, promote social justice, and protect the environment, and the Blue Planet Prize has long stood for these vital and worthy global aims.”
“This important prize is a wonderful recognition of Prof. Sachs’ leadership on sustainable development and serves as an inspiration for the SDSN and our Leadership Council to support the operationalization and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Guido Schmidt-Traub, Executive Director of the SDSN.
In addition to his other roles, Sachs also directs the Earth Institute at Columbia University.
He is co-founder of the Millennium Promise Alliance, which since 2005 has worked to help rural communities across Africa lift themselves out of poverty by improving education, health, agriculture and other aspects of daily life.
The foundation said Sachs’s recommendations for getting people out of poverty with basics such as better seeds, fertilizers and irrigation have “delivered strong results” in increased farm production. It said he has also shown progress in strengthening rural health systems and fighting malaria and AIDS. It praised Sachs’ leadership in promoting sustainable development and combining economic growth with environmental sustainability, as embodied in the forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals. It recognized Sachs’ innovations in developing “Clinical Economics” and mindfulness in economics as pathways to sustainable development.
The award has been given yearly since 1992. Two other members of the SDSN Leadership Council have received this prize: James Hansen (in 2010), former director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a world-leading advocate for cutting global carbon emissions; Marine ecologist Jane Lubchenco, past head of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Dasgupta, born in Dhaka (now in Bangladesh), is best known for his widely influential work in environment and development; he has worked on issues including climate change, malnutrition and population growth. Sachs and Dasgupta will receive the award during a ceremony in Tokyo in October.
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About the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN): Launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in August 2012, and led by Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute of Columbia University, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) mobilizes scientific and technical expertise from academia, civil society, and the private sector in support of sustainable development problem solving at local, national, and global scales. We aim to accelerate joint learning and help to overcome the compartmentalization of technical and policy work by promoting integrated approaches to the interconnected economic, social, and environmental challenges confronting the world.
About the Earth Institute, Columbia University: The Earth Institute’s mission is to mobilize the sciences, education and public policy to achieve a sustainable Earth. Through interdisciplinary research among more than 500 scientists in diverse fields, the Institute is adding to the knowledge necessary for addressing the challenges of the 21st century and beyond. With over two-dozen associated degree curricula and a vibrant fellowship program, the Earth Institute is educating new leaders to become professionals and scholars in the growing field of sustainable development. We work alongside governments, businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals to devise innovative strategies to protect the future of our planet.