The Tang Prize, an international academic award set up to create a better world for all of humanity, is poised to announce its 2022 laureates in Taipei in four consecutive days starting June 18. In the first press conference held on June 18, the Foundation introduced to the public winner of the 2022 Tang Prize in Sustainable Development: Prof. Jeffrey Sachs. A world-renowned professor in economics who has made great contributions to the establishment and promotion of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Prof. Sachs served as Special Advisor to three UN Secretaries-General, and is currently Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University as well as President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). He is awarded for “leading transdisciplinary sustainability science and creating the multilateral movement for its applications from village to nation and to the world,” according to the selection committee’s citation.
At the moment, mankind as a whole is confronted with many tough challenges, including environmental pollution, extreme weather events, energy crisis, the shock to our physical, social and economic wellbeing caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and food shortages and raging inflation exacerbated by the regional confrontation. As an eminent economist of international distinction, Prof. Sachs has conducted ground-breaking research in many areas, such as debt crises, hyperinflations, transition from central planning to market economies, and eradication of extreme poverty. Moreover, when addressing complex issues related to global sustainable development, he combined the fields of global economics, public health, equity and sustainability to pioneer a multidisciplinary approach to solving these problems, transforming sustainable development into an integrated field of study and practice. His outstanding scholarship, advice to world leaders, educational innovation, and efforts in the global advocacy and realization of sustainable development have proven him to be a true leader of great vision, of profound influence, and imbued with deep humanistic concern.
With regard to the innovative transdisciplinary approach Prof. Sachs pioneered, an example can be found in his engagement with the Millennium Project, which he chaired on behalf of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan from 2002 to 2006. He was tasked with developing a concrete action plan to attain the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and he demonstrated how it can be done by using best practices in science, technology, and public policy. Moreover, Prof. Sachs was also in charge of the UN Millennium Village Project (MVP), which was implemented from 2006-2015 after the UN General Assembly adopted the key recommendations of the Millennium Project at a special session in September 2005. The MVP aimed to help rural Africa and was carried out in ten countries including Senegal, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. During these ten years, a range of notable successes were achieved, from raising agricultural production to reducing child stunting, and cutting child mortality rates. Lives of more than half a million people were changed as a consequence. Its key concepts of integrating rural development to achieve the MDGs are now being adopted by many other countries to help support national anti-poverty programs.