This is a critical year for turning the world’s economic development toward a more sustainable course — maybe “the” critical year, economist and United Nations adviser Jeffrey Sachs told a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health audience on April 1. World leaders will be meeting at three high-level summits this summer and fall to hash out new global frameworks for reducing extreme poverty, reversing course on human-induced climate change, and other goals. Sachs argued that the aims are feasible, but it will require political courage for leaders to forge agreements and turn the new frameworks into reality.

View a webcast of the lecture.

Given the often glacial pace of diplomacy, these summits, which will be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, New York, and Paris, offer “the best opportunity, and probably the only chance that we’ll have to change course globally in a concerted, cooperative manner on sustainable development,” Sachs said. “So we have to hope that we get this right.”

Sachs, who is director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, delivered the 11th Stare-Hegsted Lecture on April 1 in Snyder auditorium. The annual event honors two key figures in the formation of the Department of Nutrition at the School: Fredrick Stare, founding chair of the department, and D. Mark Hegsted, a founding faculty member.

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