KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait- In an interview with the Kuwait News Agency, Sheik Dr. Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah again extolled the necessity of sustainable development in the post-2015 UN development agenda. Sheik Dr. Mohammad, who has been an uncompromising economic figure in the UN and in his home country of Kuwait for years, has a history of strong rhetoric demanding evolution of the current economic model to a sustainable, adaptive, and socially responsible paradigm. “It is disgraceful that a human being could die of starvation in the 21st century,” he stated.
Sheik Dr. Mohammad graduated from Clarmont McKenna College in 1978 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, and went on to earn his Masters and PhD in the same field at Harvard. Over his career, Sheik Dr. Mohammad has served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs to Kuwait, the second most prosperous nation in the Middle East according to the World Bank. He has been a Kuwaiti Ambassador to the US since 1993 and was made the Chairman of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development in 2003.
He is currently a member of the Board of the UN High-level Advisory Committee, after resigning from his posts in the Kuwaiti government in October of 2011, due to an environment of corruption which culminated in an abuse of funds scandal that forced many resignations and an inquisition. Many people familiar with the Kuwait government reported their belief that Sheik Dr. Mohammad remained free of blame from the scandal, and for that reason criticized his decision to leave the government, taking his unwavering morality with him. Since that time, Mohammad has been involved with the UN and is a Fellow at Oxford University.
Figures like Mohammad are always the riskiest to be allowed to rise to power because of their willingness to destroy the status quo. In a speech at the Kuwaiti Embassy in Istanbul in March of 2011, Mohammad demonstrated a strong grasp of the social, economic, environmental, and political issues facing the world in the coming decades. Being credited with setting the economic compass for Kuwait, which not only has excellent foreign relations with most major countries, but is also one of the wealthiest nations in the world, indicates he has the ability to work practical changes. However, the 2010 Vision Program – intended to diversify Kuwait’s oil-based economy – has made little progress since his departure. With the effects of the Arab Spring still echoing around the region and the Al-Sabah family strengthening their hold on power in Kuwait, economic reform may be a long time in coming.
More than an homage to a single man, however, this article hopes to confirm the fact that the UN continues to select and heed the advice of intelligent, aware, practical people in matters of development. If at times progress toward the Millennium Goals, or toward finalizing a post-2015 agenda, seems interminably slow, keep Sheik Dr. Mohammad in mind. Know that work is being done by men and women with a self-professed obsession with perfection to solve the planet’s economic issues in a way that will encourage social, environmental, and political stability.
– Alex Pusateri