Ecologically-sound Development: A Vital Need for Concerted Action


René Wadlow – TRANSCEND Media Service

11 Aug 2023 – The death of Ignacy Sachs on 2 Aug 2023 allows us to pay tribute to a colleague who was a leader in the promotion of ecologically-sound development.  Sachs was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1927 into a Jewish family that fled Poland in 1939 when the Nazi German army attacked. Until 1954 the family was for a short time in France and in Brazil before returning to Poland. However, in 1968 there was a wave of government-led anti-Jewish activities.  Many Jews who held government posts of importance left the country.  Sachs returned to France where he created a research-teaching program on ecology and development.  It was in this context that I came to appreciate his work and met him occasionally at conferences.

Ignacy Sachs – IEA/USP

Ignacy Sachs came to Paris just as the link between ecology and development was becoming a major intellectual issue. The first U.N. World Conference with an ecology focus happened in 1972 in Stockholm.  It was also the time of the Club of Rome study on “The Limits to Growth.”

Sachs, who had seen poverty in Brazil and in India during his doctoral studies, stressed that there had to be development to meet the basic needs of all, but that such growth had to be ecologically sound.  His development emphasis was to build on local knowledge and local initiatives. Such a local focus would not promote external models, often inappropriate to local conditions.  However, he also stressed the need for planning within the United Nations system because ecologically-sound development had to have a world dimension.

Today, many of the ideas of Sachs have been incorporated into development thinking and ecological efforts.  With the consequences of climate change in the background, ecologically-sound development must be the center of a concerted action.


René Wadlow is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation and problem-solving in economic and social issues, and editor of Transnational Perspectives.

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 14 Aug 2023.

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