Globalisation and its Discontents

1 May 2002
'Bono has changed the minds of people you would not believe,' Professor Jeffrey Sachs.

'Bono has changed the minds of people you would not believe,' said Professor Jeffrey Sachs, speaking to a Dublin conference on Globalisation. 'He calls me morning, noon and night for that last piece of data.'

Sachs, a Harvard academic and economic adviser to governments in five continents, argues that if the world's richest countries were to sacrifice one cent in every $10 to fund primary health in the third world, eight million lives would be saved every year.

In a lecture on "Globalisation and its Discontents" to members of the Institute of European Affairs, Sachs (pictured left with Bono) said the extent of recent economic growth in the most prosperous parts of the world had made the alleviation of world poverty possible for the first time. Dividing the world according to economic progress, Prof Sachs said at least 1.5 billion people were living in areas where practically no economic growth had been achieved in the past 20 years. In Africa, he said, per capita income had, on average, declined over the period.

Among the reasons for this, the professor said, was the extreme poverty trap in which many of these countries find themselves.

"There is no margin above survival," he said, adding that some populations simply do not eat enough to be productive, never mind attract foreign direct investment. Difficult physical environments are also a factor. "It is no accident that Afghanistan is in chaos," he said. "It is so remote that it has not had economic development for centuries."

Prof Sachs said the richest 6 per cent of the world had become so "fantastically rich" within the past few years, that a collective aid effort could actually be effective in alleviating world poverty. It was for this reason that he had chosen to leave his position at Harvard and become a special UN adviser on the poverty issue, he said.

Prof Sachs believes that if 0.7 per cent of GNP in rich countries could be diverted to the poorest parts of the world, entire polulations could become healthy, educated and skilled. "I thought it was a good shot to give Kofi Annan a hand with all of this," he said. "We could make a huge difference."

The professor's lecture also paid tribute to the work of Bono in fighting global poverty and focusing attention on world debt. He said that if Bono was not the world's most important politician, he was "definitely number two".
"He is so incredibly serious and consequential about this, which is why he makes a difference."

"He calls me morning, noon and night for that last piece of data. He has changed things in Washington unbelievably - he has changed the minds of people you would never believe could be changed."

More on the campaign to cancel the debts of the poorest countries here


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