By Francesca Merlo
According to Jeffrey Sachs, it all starts with the need for global awareness. People require an education and an understanding of “the need for a moral framework for our economy”. Speaking to Vatican Radio’s Fausta Speranza, the Columbia University professor mentions that Pope Francis has called hundreds of young economists to Assisi at the end of March for an event entitled ‘the economy of Francis’. This, he says, “will be a major opportunity to establish a new moral foundation to the science in teaching economics”, something which he adds we need “very much”.
The Vatican is currently hosting a one-day workshop entitled “New forms of solidarity towards fraternal inclusion, integration and innovation”. There, renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs gave a keynote speech entitled ‘Restoring the ethical foundations of economics’.
Mr Sachs mentions that, through events hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Science, Pope Francis has spoken to many industry leaders before – such as leaders of the oil industry. There, says Jeffrey Sachs, he reminded them of their responsibility to the Creation, and to the protection of humanity. “I know that many of them listen”, he adds, but “unfortunately not all of them sufficiently”.
Presenting new ideas
“Ideas are extremely important”, says Mr Sachs, “because we are shaped by our education”. He recalls that now, “as an adult who has been practicing economics for 40 years”, he understands that some of what he was taught “about basic questions of human nature, and basic questions of ethics” were “just incorrect”. So, he continues, it is so important that new ideas be “sound”, in order for them to form part of the education of young people.
“The Church calls it discernment and Aristotle called it the cultivation of virtues”, he says. Ideas play an important role, but “concretely. What can we do?”
“The aim is what the Church calls integral human development and what the UN calls sustainable development”. This, he explains, means that our economies “should not only be productive but also socially inclusive”. As the UN says, ‘leave no one behind’, as the Church says ‘a dignity for all people and environmentally safe’.
The “very important agenda” which, Mr Sachs says, includes the Paris Climate Agreement that Pope Francis “has so strongly supported” could “guide us very practically to what we need to do”.
An economy based on Laudato Sí
Finally, Mr Sachs says that the panel discussion is deeply informed by the Church's social teachings. “It's inspired by Pope Francis”, he says, as a reflection of his Laudato Sí because, as the Pope expresses in his encyclical, this issue is not only for believers and for those who follow the Church. “This is for a global dialogue”, because “interdependence obliges us to think of a common plan and this is in the service of that Global dialogue”.