4. Responsible consumption by the rich (People in developed countries)
Millennium Consumption Goals (MCGs)
From 2001 to 2008, Prof. Munasinghe worked for the IPCC, using Sustainomics to integrate climate change policies into sustainable development strategy. In 2007, while he was the Vice-Chair at the IPCC, these contributions were recognized when the IPCC shared the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 2010, Prof. Munasinghe proposed the concept of Millennium Consumption Goals (MCGs) based on Sustainomics at the UN conference. The MCGs would require the richest 20% of the world's population (about 1.4 billion people), who consume about 85% of planetary resources, to adopt more sustainable consumption patterns, and thereby free up resources to help billions of poor. This is based on Prof. Munasinghe's strong desire to have the richer nations become more responsible and eliminate inequality.
The MCG concept was later incorporated into Goal 12 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Responsible Consumption and Production.
Prof. Munasinghe's present and future vision
Prof. Munasinghe has been continuing his research as Chairman of the Munasinghe Institute for Development (MIND). Although he achieved much at the World Bank, while gaining higher and more responsible positions, he became increasingly involved in administration and had less time for research. Because he felt that he would have no time for research if he continued working at the World Bank, he decided to leave the World Bank in 2000, ten years before the mandatory retirement age, and he went out on to establish MIND in that year. His main desire was to continue his work on sustainable development.
He also wanted to focus on development issues while living in a developing country rather than in a developed country. This is why he set up MIND in his home country of Sri Lanka, a developing country.
MIND is now established as an UN-recognized center of excellence for climate change and sustainable development, collaborating with international partners. MIND has given hundreds of scholarships to students and researchers.
Prof. Munasinghe is also enjoying his private life. His hobbies include tennis, cricket, skiing, scuba diving, judo and other sports, traveling the world, outdoor activities involving nature and animals, enjoying music, dancing, singing, practicing Tai-chi, meditation, etc.; he continues to do many of these activities in his mid-70s.
He met his wife, Sria, when he was 14 years old while playing tennis at the same club. They married in 1970 and recently celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary. His wife also has a Master's degree in economics. Over all these years, she has fully supported and shared his professional interests, and is prouder and happier of his success than anyone else. She was the Sri Lankan National women's tennis champion, and they still play tennis together three times a week.
Their daughter and son followed in Prof. Munasinghe's footsteps as researchers. Their daughter Anusha has a PhD in molecular biology from Harvard University, USA, and his son Ranjiva has a PhD in mathematics from Warwick University, UK. Both respect their father and have been influenced by him.
Message to young people
We are facing many serious problems today. Prof. Munasinghe says that if we work together and follow Sustainomics principles, we can address many of the problems facing humanity. It is not difficult to do. We do not need to wait to be told what to do. We can start with small steps like not leaving water running and turning off lights when we leave a room.
Prof. Munasinghe values harmony; and before harmonizing the earth, he believes that we need to harmonize our own personal sustainability triangles – balancing work, health, and the environment – to become well-balanced human beings. Prof. Munasinghe also designed their garden at home to create an environment, surrounded by nature, like the one in which he spent his childhood, because he highly values living in a peaceful, harmonious and spiritual environment. He puts into practice his idea by focusing on living a harmonious life.
Prof. Munasinghe reminds us of ancient prayers passed down in Sri Lanka.
Prof. Munasinghe points out that these prayers express environmental, economic, and social goals. People in ancient times knew that they were precious, and we today are trying to rediscover these ancient truths.