Peace Environment for your health
Inter-dependence between inner and outer environments
How to make our life more stable both physically, mentally and spiritually




Alfredo Sfeir-Younis - Chile

Mr. Alfredo Sfeir-Younis is an economist graduate of the University of Chile, with a Master and a Doctorate from the University of Wisconsin and the University of Rhode Island, USA.  As an economist, he started his career as an assistant professor at the University of Chile, the Catholic University of Santiago and the Catholic University of Valparaiso.  He taught probability statistics, macroeconomic theory and policy, and international trade and development.

As a macroeconomist, he worked in the Research Department of the Central Bank of Chile, where he was in charge of setting interest rates ceilings and supervising credit allocations into the private sector.  His Commercial Engineering Degree was awarded after a thesis on “Concentration of Credit and Capital in the Chilean Private Sector: The Decade of the Sixties”. His Doctorate was in environment and natural resource economics, with a minor field in international trade and finance.  His doctoral dissertation on “Multi Objective Evaluation Techniques for Project and Programs” focused on mainstreaming environmental concerns into macroeconomic policy decisions.

During his studies and career in Chile, Alfredo Sfeir-Younis held the positions of president of his high school, vice-president, and later on, president of the School of Economics.  Then, he became elected Regent and Academic Senator of the Catholic University of Valparaiso, and held the position of Chairman of the Budget.

Presently, Mr. Sfeir-Younis works at the World Bank, where he as spent nearly 27 years of his life.  Now, as the Director of the World Bank Office in Switzerland, he is The Special Representative to the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.  Just before this assignment, he was the Special Representative at the United Nations in New York.

While at the World Bank, he has held several positions in the areas of environment and sustainable development, ex-post evaluation of projects and programs, agriculture and rural development in the West Africa Region and human rights.  He has led a number of operational missions and has been the principal author of policy papers and statements of the Bank in such areas as forestry, fisheries, water management and irrigation, desertification and biodiversity.

Mr. Sfeir-Younis has also made contributions in the areas of poverty eradication, financing of development, gender and women issues, trade and development, role of indigenous peoples, human rights and right to development, culture in sustainable development, and many other important topics.

Today, Mr. Sfeir-Younis is the World Bank Institutional Focal Point on human rights and related matters.  He regularly participate at the Commission of Human Rights as well as many international meetings and gatherings.

But Mr. Sfeir-Younis’ interests go far beyond traditional economics. 
He has been speaking for some time now on the important linkages that exist between spirituality and economics, and on the role that human values play in the decision-making process both nationally and globally.  During his stay at the UN, he made a number of presentations on peace and economic development, human security, education, spiritual dimensions of the globalization process, and the relationship between the material and the non-material aspects of development and progress, including moral and ethical dimensions.  Recently, Mr. Sfeir-Younis has received several international awards: The 2002 Peace and Tolerance Award, The Lifetime Ambassador of Peace Award, The Supreme Advisor of the Buddhist Spiritual Forum Award and The World Healer Award.

Humanity Has Another Option: Making Peace With The Environment

Making peace with the environment is a central dimension of human transformation and destiny. However, it is central to understand the meaning and implications that environmental degradation and destruction are having in the state of human welfare, both material and spiritual welfare. In addressing this issue, several questions arise: What are the spiritual consequences of environmental destruction? Why human beings destroy the environment in the first place? Why are we numbed to the existence of material and spiritual interdependence? As a specific example of the negative consequences of the present approach to human welfare, reference will be made to the type of diseases that are most prevailing now as a result of the non-peaceful relationship with the environment. Research shows that significant changes in the diseases’ profile has taken place; all influenced by external activities –like economics and finance. They determine also the state of synergy between environment and health. At the end, a new paradigm of human transformation is suggested as another option for human development and progress, whereby making peace with the environment is an integral and inseparable dimension.

Economics and Environment: A Spiritual Form of Human Interdependence

The notions of productivity, competitiveness and comparative advantage have dominated the relationship between economics and the environment. In the past, these notions have invariably assumed that the environment is infinite in resources, or it is an open sink for the disposal of all sorts of wastes. In addition, in deciding what to do with the environment and its natural resources –e.g., wildlife, forests, fisheries, biodiversity, climate, ozone layer—the market (consumption) has defined most of the trajectories. The market and its preferences, as set by economic market instruments (e.g., prices, taxes, subsidies), have prevailed. This economics dominated approach is responsible for a major process of environmental destruction and the irreversible depletion of a large number of natural resources. It is essential to bring economics and business into the process of making peace with the environment. This demands a major change in the fundamental framework of economics and finance, and a full integration of spirituality and humanistic values into public policy-making. This integration of spiritual and human values is needed not just as an advocacy of those values but as a means of their self-realization. A new vision of change and human transformation is needed and a consensus on how to attain it indispensable.