BARCELONA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A global push to end poverty and hunger, and combat climate change by 2030 is at risk from American “militarism”, powerful business interests and the actions of President Donald Trump, said leading U.S. economist and U.N. special adviser Jeffrey Sachs.
The Columbia University professor said he was “not pessimistic” about the international agenda for sustainable development, adopted by the United Nations in 2015.
But he said harsh rhetoric raising the prospect of war with North Korea, and the domination of U.S. politics by billionaire businessmen may thwart progress toward the U.N. goals.
“More and more I see that while the kind of technical solutions I work on are very important … the real obstacles that we are fighting every day are the political obstacles, the headwinds of powerful interests, bad ways of doing things,” he added.
In a live interview broadcast on Facebook, Sachs told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that Trump’s speech at the United Nations last week, in which he threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, which is developing nuclear weapons, was “grossly dangerous and irresponsible”.
“We could actually avoid nuclear war – whether we will or not really is a guess,” he said, calling for diplomacy instead of the recent brinkmanship that shows “infantile misunderstanding of how dangerous this crisis is”.
Sachs, who has helped some 100 countries shape their policies, said he had expected to focus on international development issues “because the U.S. would more or less take care of itself” – but that no longer applies to his home nation.
“The horrible realization for me in the last 15 years … is we’re not taking care of ourselves and more than that, we’re a danger to the world,” he said, whether it be through waging war in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, or failing to act on climate change.
Trump has said he plans to pull the United States out of the Paris…