Regional cooperation is important to resolve the crisis the world is going through right now, says development economist Jeffrey Sachs.
“Regional cooperation is extremely important because most of the technologies and most of the challenges that exist are beyond national borders,” said Sachs adding, “Bangladesh shares rivers with India and you need to cooperate together.”
He made the remark on Thursday as the keynote speaker at the international webinar on “The UN in Times of People’s Needs: Rethinking Multilateralism”, organised by North South University’s Center for Peace Studies (CPS) with support from the United Nations office in Bangladesh, to mark the 75th anniversary of the UN.
Lack of cooperation in South Asia has dangerous consequences for Bangladesh and other countries in the region, the economist believed.
“Within South Asia, we need India and Pakistan not to be militarized to the teeth against each other,” he said adding they should open borders, increase trade and cooperation.
“I know it sounds simple, but God we need this as a priority because neither country can thrive and it is dangerous for Bangladesh for obvious, if there isn’t cooperation within South Asia.”
The noted economist said it is a dangerous idea to divide the world between the United States and China.
“We cannot suffer another Cold War. There is absolutely no reason in the world to divide the world between China and the United States. It is horrible, stupid, dangerous idea. We should be directing our attention to cooperation and the core I would say regions need to cooperate with each other.”
He said the world needs to stop the pandemic together through public health and vaccine and second, recovery along the line of sustainable development goals and Paris Climate Agreement.
UN reform is needed but there is growing resistance and most of the cases neighbours don’t support adjacent countries, said the economist.
“I don’t know what Bangladesh’s view is about India to become a permanent member of UNSC, but Pakistan would go completely mad about the idea. The idea of Japan becoming a member is impossible from China’s point of view. So it’s usually the next door neighbor that says no.”
Four Americans – Jeff Bejos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk- have accumulated wealth of over 500 billion dollars and it leads to unimaginable wealth at the top, Sachs said.
“This is not the way to run a society. This is absolutely inappropriate in a world where we have so much misery and suffering that we don’t have more effective responses.”
The global economic system has failed to provide a framework in which the poor countries can reliably escape from poverty, he said.
“So, billions or more people are really stuck and facing great hardship even though the world as a whole is filled with wealth.”
The international system fails to protect environment and countries like Bangladesh are suffering due to this, he said.
“We have multiple, deep, progressive, rapidly expanding environmental crisis including human induced climate change.”
The world is facing technological transformation, which is disruptive in nature, he said.
It is good to an important extent but very disruptive as it gives rise to cyber warfare, fake news , digital divide and loss of job to automation, he said adding “So we are in a complicated technological transformation.”
World doesn’t need US leadership
The economist is of the view that the world doesn’t need US leadership. “We just need US cooperation.”
Strongly criticizing Trump administration, he said, “75 years after founding of the UN, the United States is no leader of the world economy. I regard the United States is probably the number one Rogue Nation in the world right now.”The US opposes or fails to join more international agreements than any other country in the whole world right now, he said adding, “Trump, Pompeo and others are extreme right-wing nationalists and extremely dangerous for us as the US citizens, and for the world.”
The United States is trying to create a Cold War with China and tells the countries to pick sides, he said adding “It’s the American mentality, I am sorry to say, it is the context we are dealing with. It’s a mess.”