Content from the Brookings-Tsinghua Public Policy Center is now archived. Since October 1, 2020, Brookings has maintained a limited partnership with Tsinghua University School of Public Policy and Management that is intended to facilitate jointly organized dialogues, meetings, and/or events.
In its inaugural event on and as part of its Sustainable Development of China and the World lecture series, the Brookings-Tsinghua Center hosted noted economist Dr. Jeffrey Sachs for a presentation.
The meeting was moderated by Dr. Geng Xiao, director of Brookings-Tsinghua Center, and participants included Professor Yi Gang, assistant governor of the People’s Bank of China, Professor Hu Angang, director of the Center for China Studies at Tsinghua University, and Professor Fan Gang, director of China’s National Economic Research Institution.
Dr. Sachs pointed out the ever-increasing trends in population and economic growth, and stated that environmental stress will be the greatest threat to economic development. To support this view, he extensively analyzed the effects of global climate change and the resulting stress on water resources. In order to obtain sustainable development, we should use human capital rather than natural resources to stimulate economic growth, and we should reach world wide agreements on environmental strategies.
Professor Yi Gang expanded on this view, stating that it is essential to address the problem of public ignorance of environmental issues, and to restructure political and economic institutions accordingly.
Professor Fan Gang pointed out that it is unaffordable for developing countries to purchase expensive energy-saving technologies. Also, many of their structural problems, such as the lack of taxes on resources and property, have hindered the utilization of their resources.
Professor Hu Angang analyzed the damage to China’s environment caused by coal combustion and dam-building. He recommended large investments in technology and human capital, which in some capacities could moderate the usage of natural resources and increase green GDP.