Jeffrey Sachs session: Will the private sector be the driver of green transition?
WILL THE PRIVATE SECTOR BE THE DRIVER OF GREEN TRANSITION?
Presenter: Jeffrey Sachs
Discussants: Lourdes Casanova, Peter Gammeltoft, Jing Li, Mike Peng, Ravi Ramamurti
Green transition used to be contested but is now a mainstream concern and economic incentives, public policies, technologies, and societal norms and values are shifting. With its production capabilities, technologies and investment capital, the private sector is indispensable in any large-scale economic transformation, and multinational companies especially so.
Historically, the industrial market economy and private corporations have not been net positive contributors to planetary sustainability. In their global pursuit of efficiencies and arbitrage advantages, multinational companies have traditionally been widely perceived as culprits in the sustainability agenda, effecting inequalities, environmental degradation, and supply and specialization vulnerabilities, while progressive momentum has been ascribed to governments, NGOs, youth, and social movements.
However, MNC activities, mandates and strategies have progressively widened over recent decades, where CSR, codes of conduct, public-private partnerships and corporate political activity have woven MNC activities and concerns deeper into the broader societal fabric. Are we observing a turning point in the institutional drivers of sustainability transition where economic markets and private enterprises shift from mainly manifesting constraints and negative externalities to potentially becoming a self-reinforcing driver of reformation of the global economic architecture? Are private companies and economic markets becoming major progressive drivers of green transition, and if so how and with which consequences? Is the harnessing of the private sector and economic markets a precondition for successful sustainability transition?
Jeffrey D. Sachs is University Professor and Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, where he directed the Earth Institute from 2002 until 2016. He is President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Co-Chair of the Council of Engineers for the Energy Transition, Commissioner of the UN Broadband Commission for Development, academician of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences at the Vatican, and Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah Honorary Distinguished Professor at Sunway University. He has been Special Advisor to three United Nations Secretaries-General, and currently serves as an SDG Advocate under Secretary General António Guterres. He spent over twenty years as a professor at Harvard University, where he received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees. Sachs has received 42 honorary doctorates, and his recent awards include the 2022 Tang Prize in Sustainable Development, the Legion of Honor by decree of the President of the Republic of France, and the Order of the Cross from the President of Estonia. His most recent books are The Ages of Globalization: Geography, Technology, and Institutions (2020) and Ethics in Action for Sustainable Development (2022).