Dr. Jeffrey Sachs (PhD) is the director of Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Development and president of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. (Photo: Submitted)

UN advisor headlines USask’s PAW conference

World-renowned economist, sustainability leader, and author Dr. Jeffrey Sachs (PhD) will address the University of Saskatchewan (USask) 2021 People Around the World (PAW) conference focused on the United Nations’ (UN) 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Twice named among Time Magazine’s 100 most influential world leaders, Sachs is director of Columbia University’s Center for Sustainable Development and president of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. His many books include The End of Poverty and The Age of Sustainable Development.

“We need champions of sustainable development because we are not winning this battle,” Sachs has stated.

He has described sustainable development as “a new way of choosing our common future.”

To be held online Feb. 2-3, the 2021 PAW conference will address how to harness the power of collaboration to address the SDGs and re-emerge stronger and more resilient in the aftermath of the pandemic. Participants will be encouraged to “act local and think global.”

“Now more than ever—in the face of climate change and a pandemic—we are seeing the need to support local but also to connect and think global about how our choices locally have a global-scale impact on peoples and systems around the world,” said Meghna Ramaswamy, director of the USask International Office, which has organized the annual conference with committee members across campus.

Canada’s International Development Minister Karina Gould will speak about Canada’s role in addressing the SDGs, as well as Canada’s role in supporting international efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Highlighting the need for climate action, National Research Council Program Director Dr. Phil De Luna (PhD) will speak about technologies to help Canada meet net-zero emissions by 2050. De Luna is a member of a Canadian Commission for UNESCO working group looking into how to use artificial intelligence tools to advance sustainability. Forbes magazine named De Luna to their Top 30 under 30 – Energy list.

Livia Castellanos, Saskatchewan Ministry of Advanced Education’s executive lead for international education and jurisdictional initiatives, will speak about the province’s role in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and SDGs, as well as the launch of Saskatchewan’s new international education strategy.

With a focus on the global impact of citizenship education with links to the SDG goals, David Arnot, chief commissioner for the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission and former Saskatchewan Treaty Commissioner, will address what citizenship means for all peoples.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

The conference will showcase cross-cutting global research projects undertaken by USask researchers, staff and students, and their partners in government, industry, NGOs, and non-profits. Session presenters have built collaborative projects with global partners to address the SDGs around the world in a diverse range of areas—from climate action, to health and well-being, to renewable energy and water security.

“International research projects can help transform institutions and create a community of global citizens to promote social cohesion and inclusivity for peaceful, just and prosperous societies,” said Ramaswamy.

As a special highlight, Saskatoon chef Dale MacKay, winner of the Top CHEF Canada in 2011, will present a cooking show, highlighting a simple and delicious recipe using locally sourced ingredients. 

Register for the People Around the World 2021 Conference