Jeffrey Sachs looks to the future: “No one will take water for granted.”



Dr. Sachs, one of the architects of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations, which seek to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people, spoke with Mr. Treaster on the Columbia campus during a break in the State of the Planet Conference in late March.

The biennial conference, which Dr. Sachs first convened a decade ago, drew economists, scientists, engineers, lawyers, business executives and students from Europe, Asia, Latin America and the United States.

In an opening address, Lee C. Bollinger, the president of Columbia University, said it was very clear that “we are headed toward a new global society.

“Yet,” he said, the institutions in the United States “and our mindset are not ready for this new global society. We have a ways to go to catch up with what’s going on around the planet.”

Focusing on the environment, Kofi A. Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, told the conference he believed that the debate over climate change was over.

“Now,” he said, “we need agreement on how to tackle it.”