New Book: Ethics in Action for Sustainable Development

November 30, 2022

CSD's Jeffrey D. Sachs and Jesse Thorson co-edited a new book titled Ethics in Action for Sustainable Development, based off a two-year initiative seeking a multi-religious consensus on the ethics of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The volume includes a foreword by Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and will be published by Columbia University Press on December 20, 2022. It is available for pre-order now.

Between 2016 and 2018, Professor Jeffrey Sachs and Monsignor Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo convened a diverse group of religious leaders, philosophers, theologians, economists, and practitioners to seek an ethical consensus on the social, environmental, and economic challenges captured within the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The proceedings from this program – the Ethics in Action initiative – will be published on December 20, 2022 in a new volume titled Ethics in Action for Sustainable Development, ed. Jeffrey D. Sachs, Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Owen Flanagan, William Vendley, Anthony Annett, and Jesse Thorson (New York, Columbia University Press 2022). The book includes a foreword jointly written by Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

Hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and organized by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, and Religions for Peace, Ethics in Action held eleven meetings to discuss topics including poverty and social exclusion, the challenge of peace, environmental justice, mass migration and the refugee crisis, corruption, and the future of work. The two-year program was made possible through partnerships with the Blue Chip Foundation, Jacqueline Corbelli, Christy Lee Brown, the Fetzer Institute, and the University of Notre Dame.

From Columbia University Press: "Ethics in Action for Sustainable Development presents an in-depth and deeply engaged conversation among interfaith religious leaders and interdisciplinary scholars and practitioners in pursuit of an ethical consensus to ground sustainable development efforts. Drawing on more than two years of close-knit discussions convened by Jeffrey D. Sachs and Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, it offers an extensive and inclusive vision of how to promote human flourishing. The book features theological, philosophical, and ethical deliberations of great diversity and depth on the challenges of sustainable development, addressing questions of poverty, environmental justice, peace, conflict, and the future of work. It includes consensus statements on the moral imperatives of sustainable development, introductions to seven major religious traditions and their conceptions of the common good, and thematic reflections. Wide-ranging and urgent, this book represents a major contribution to interreligious dialogue and to the articulation of a shared global ethics."

Ethics in Action can be pre-ordered at Columbia University Press, Amazon, or your preferred online or local bookseller. Contact Jesse Thorson ([email protected]) for press-related inquiries.


“In Ethics in Action for Sustainable Development, religious leaders of many faiths and scholars of many disciplines address the ethics of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Their message is timely and hopeful: the world’s great religious and ethical traditions share the common commitment to end poverty, assure social justice, and achieve environmental sustainability. The world can indeed come together to build the Future We Want.”

- Ban Ki-moon, former secretary-general of the United Nations

I came away from this book with a lot of new information and ideas but also a sense of relief: maybe it isn't too late; maybe humanity and much of the other life on the planet is not irrevocably lost and without hope. Ethics in Action for Sustainable Development brings together a broad coalition of authors from disparate disciplines and shows how all of their work is connected to the pressing need to address environmental degradation.

- Philip J. Ivanhoe, author of Oneness: East Asian Conceptions of Virtue, Happiness, and How We Are All Connected