Chilean President Gabriel Boric addresses urgent global challenges at Columbia Business School

September 29, 2023

While the United Nations General Assembly was session in New York, Chilean President Gabriel Boric made a significant visit to Columbia Business School's new Manhattanville campus. On September 22, he took the stage for a profound dialogue addressing critical global issues, including sustainable development, democracy, and environmental justice. Moderated by University Professor and Nobel laureate in Economics Joseph Stiglitz, the conference resonated with over 200 graduate students, the majority of whom are Chileans pursuing their graduate studies at Columbia University.

In his address, President Boric encapsulated the severity of the current global landscape. He emphasized that the world confronts pressing challenges encompassing development, democracy, and the environment. These challenges are symptomatic of more profound structural problems, including stagnant productivity, rising inequality, political unrest, and environmental deterioration. To ensure sustainable growth and well-being, these problems demand immediate attention.

The President acknowledged the intricacies, interconnectedness, and multifaceted nature of these challenges. His address echoed the importance of fostering international collaboration and mutual support to collectively work towards a more prosperous, equitable, and democratic future.

His words resonated with the audience, as he underscored the shared responsibility in driving transformative change. He called upon the global community, stressing that countries such as the United States, Canada, and China must intensify their efforts in pursuing green transitions.

President Gabriel Boric at CBS

President Boric left a lasting message with the students, acknowledging their pivotal role in shaping Chile's future. He emphasized that the task of bringing about societal change is not solely the responsibility of those in power but a collective duty. “You guys have a huge responsibility. Now I am sitting here and you look at me like I am the one responsible for what is going on in Chile nowadays, but I want to endorse you responsibility also,” he expressed. “It’s not only the ones that are in power who have to change society, and I hope that you will come back to your country and help us in that big, big task,” he closed.

In response to Boric's insights, Professor Stiglitz highlighted the importance of political leaders in finding compromises among people with different ideas, and praised his vision and management “of what is at the core of democracy.”

Before the conference, the Chilean President engaged in a reception with a group of academics and representatives from Columbia University. This group included Tom Trebat, Interim Director of the Santiago Center and Director of the Columbia Global Center in Rio de Janeiro, and Jeff Shaman, Dean of the Columbia Climate School. Dean Shaman is set to visit Chile in October to explore various areas of collaboration between the Climate School and Chile, as well as foster connections with government officials, members of the academic community, and private sector representatives.

President Boric at CBS

As President Boric addressed the press after departing from the university, he underscored Chile’s significant presence on the global stage. He highlighted the opportunity to share the country’s initiatives with the world and connect with Chileans residing abroad: “We engaged with many Chilean graduate students who will soon return to our homeland to collaborate in Chile's development. We were able to exchange their concerns and worries about the future of our country at Columbia University, to whom I thank for the invitation,” he stated.

President Boric and Professor Joseph Stiglitz