Sachs Speaks at U.N. Conference

Stone Professor of International Trade Jeffrey D. Sachs ’76 presented his ideas for the largest anti-poverty campaign since the Marshall Plan at a United Nations conference this week in Monterrey, Mexico.

Sachs’ appearance at the U.N. Conference on Financing for Development came on the heels of the U.S. announcing it will increase annual foreign aid 50 percent by 2006.

“I feel confident there is a different perspective taking root in Washington right now,” Sachs said in an interview as he traveled back from the conference last night.

Sachs, who also directs Harvard’s Center for International Development, is currently serving as special adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

He is counseling Annan on the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals, which aim to cut worldwide poverty in half by 2015. The plan includes increasing access to health care, primary education, drinkable water and housing and seeks to reverse the spread of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.


Sachs’ findings emphasized the role of wealthy nations in increasing aid to the poorest of nations.

“Foreign direct investment is the lifeblood of successful economic growth in poor countries, but it’s incredibly concentrated in a few countries,” Sachs told the conference.

Sachs addressed a variety of governmental, business and press groups while in Monterrey, and his visit was preceded by a major increase in foreign aid by both the U.S. and the European Union. America committed to increase foreign aid to $15 billion per year by 2006—up from a current total of $10 billion.

Sachs, who has been working closely with the State and Treasury departments for several months, expressed happiness at the change but said he thought more was needed.

He suggested immediately increasing U.S. annual foreign aid to $20 billion, saying that the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria lacks adequate funding.

“People are dying by the millions each year because they don’t have access to the health care and medicines they need,” Sachs said yesterday.

Sachs also expressed hope that businesses would mirror governments’ actions in reaching out to help poor nations.

“Private business groups have a large and unmet role, not only in philanthropy, but to provide drugs at a low cost, to transfer technology, to sponsor universities and to engage in the cooperation they’re used to in the U.S.,” he said.

Despite seeing many areas for improvement, Sachs said he was satisfied with the conference’s results.

“It was a big success because both the U.S. and Europe announced big increases in foreign assistance and have committed themselves to the international development goals,” he said.