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Monash hosts Professor Jeffrey Sachs in Melbourne


World-renowned professor of economics and leader in sustainable development, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, visited Melbourne in October 2018 as a guest of Monash University to receive an Honorary Doctorate and deliver the university’s prestigious Richard Larkins Oration.

Honorary Doctorate and 2018 Richard Larkins Oration

Professor Sachs received his Honorary degree, a Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) for his distinguished service to the global community, on Tuesday 16 October at a ceremony held in Melbourne.

Professor Sachs, who is the Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University (New York), Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and a member of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute (MSDI) Advisory Council, used his oration to highlight the important work of Monash, describing it as “truly a great university” with a “growing global reach”.

He said that working with MSDI, its Director, Professor Rebekah Brown and Chair, Professor John Thwaites “is a phenomenal joy”. He also emphasised the importance of the role MSDI is playing in the global network of universities who are contributing to the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

During the oration, Professor Sachs made an impassioned call to action for a “world effort of unprecedented focus and persistence” over the next decade to save the planet from human-accelerated climate change before it's too late.

Watch the oration

Public lecture: A New Age of Sustainable Development - Australia, Asia and The World

The previous evening, Professor Sachs made a similar plea for action on climate change and sustainable development during his public lecture at Melbourne’s Plaza Ballroom. The event was hosted by MSDI, in partnership with SDSN Australia, New Zealand & Pacific.

The lecture, ‘A New Age of Sustainable Development – Australia, Asia and The World’ attracted close to 1000 guests, who heard Professor Sachs discuss the sustainable development challenges we currently face, and explore both the opportunities and barriers to solving these challenges at an individual, local and global level. "This should be the work of every politician, business person and citizen around the world" he said.

Watch the public lecture

Guest panellist - ABC TV'S "Q&A"

Following the public lecture, Professor Sachs appeared as a guest panellist on ABC TV’s popular Q&A program, where he debated a range of topics from climate change and coal-generated power to the global economy and the current trade war between the United States and China.

Download the episode Watch on ABC iView

Launch event: Land Use Futures - Pathways to a Sustainable Food and Land Use System

During his three-day visit to Melbourne, Professor Sachs officially launched a new initiative, Land Use Futures: Pathways to a Sustainable Food and Land Use System.

This major new project, led by ClimateWorks Australia which works within MSDI, in partnership with CSIRO and Deakin University, will map global and national pathways towards more sustainable land and food systems by 2050. In his oration speech, Professor Sachs noted that “this project has equal importance for this country [Australia] and the world.” Land Use Futures will enable Australia to play its role in a strong global response to tackling the major challenges facing food and land use systems.

Around Monash University's Clayton Campus: World Mosquito Program, Net Zero Initiative and a presentation to Monash staff and students

Professor Sachs, who was joined on this whirlwind visit to Australia by Dr Sonia Sachs (Columbia University), took a tour of Monash University’s Clayton campus, where they met with representatives from the university’s Net Zero Initiative which aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions from Monash’s built environment by 2030 and the World Mosquito Program which is helping to protect the global community from mosquito-borne diseases.

Whilst at Monash, Professor Sachs delivered a guest lecture to students and staff about the role of universities in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. The lecture was hosted by MSDI's Director, Professor Rebekah Brown, who also gave an overview of the innovative work Monash is doing to address the SDGs.

Meetings and receptions: The role of cities, research and philanthropy in achieving the SDGs

During his time in Melbourne, Professor Sachs met with senior leaders and Deans from Monash University and attended a lunch with philanthropists hosted by Harold Mitchell AO, where they discussed the importance of philanthropy in sustainable development.

He also met with key representatives from industry, government and civil society and, prior to his public lecture, attended a reception at Melbourne Town Hall with SDSN Australia, New Zealand & Pacific members and senior delegates from the City of Melbourne to discuss the role of cities in helping to achieve the SDGs and the important work of SDSN in developing and promoting solutions, policies and public education for sustainable development.

On his final day in Australia, Professor Sachs met with the advisory councils of MSDI, ClimateWorks Australia and BehaviourWorks Australia to discuss global trends. He also opened a two-day symposium for early career researchers, hosted by SDSN Australia New Zealand & Pacific and Future Earth Australia, to discuss how research can help address interactions between the Sustainable Development Goals.

See you again soon, Professor Sachs

At the Richard Larkins Oration, Professor Sachs said “I hope it’s alright to give you fair warning that we’ll be back, and I hope, back often”.

From all at Monash University and the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, we hope so too.