Derick Blaauw and Anmar Pretorius attended a public lecture by Prof Jeffrey Sachs entitled: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa, at the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of the Free State on 16 September 2015.
Professor Sachs is the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. He is Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals, having held the same position under former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He is Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, cofounder and Chief Strategist of Millennium Promise Alliance, director of the Millennium Villages Project, one of the Secretary-General’s MDG Advocates, and a Commissioner of the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Development. He has authored three New York Times bestsellers in the past seven years.
In his lecture Professor Sachs provided the backdrop to the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals that all the UN member countries will sign next week and which will replace the Millennium Development Goals that expire this week. He urged South Africans, and universities in particular, to take ownership of these goals, to get involved in local communities, to backcast from a specific goal and timeframe and then determine how best to make it happen. This approach is in the spirit of the challenge laid down by former US president Kennedy in 1961 to put a man on the moon and return him safely to earth before the end of the decade.
It was an inspirational lecture on the evening before the graduation ceremony where the University of the Free State awarded an honorary doctorate in Economics to Professor Sachs.