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Black Tie International:
Jeffrey D. Sachs Center on Sustainable Development

Photo courtesy of  the Office of Professor Jeffrey Sachs

Jeffrey Cheah Foundation’s $10 Million Gift Launches the “Jeffrey D. Sachs Center on Sustainable Development” in Kuala Lumpur


Gift by Malaysia-Based Jeffrey Cheah Foundation Supports the 

Establishment of New Center and Curriculum Focused on the 

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals


Today, the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network Association announced a strategic collaboration on sustainable development as the United Nations enters the first year of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The Jeffrey Cheah Foundation’s $10 million gift – the largest financial commitment to date focused on SDG education and implementation since nearly 200 members of the UN adopted the 17 goals last September – recognizes that achieving the SDGs requires the collective global expertise of academia, policy, civil society, and business.


“This partnership signals the vision of Tan Sri Dr. Jeffrey Cheah in recognizing that sustainable development is the defining challenge of our times,” said Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Special Advisor to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations. “This generous gift by Jeffrey Cheah will create and curate the world’s best curriculum, academic, and executive programs on sustainable development. Importantly, this partnership focuses on the development challenges in Southeast Asia and the best way to address them: by engaging young minds and directing their energies towards the complex challenges and opportunities of the SDGs.”


“Countries like Malaysia face unique challenges in combating the threat of climate change while continuing to tackle problems of inclusive development and job creation,” said Tan Sri Dr. Jeffrey Cheah, Founding Trustee of the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation and Founding Chancellor of Sunway University. “This is an exciting opportunity for us at Sunway University to collaborate with SDSN and Professor Sachs in establishing a global education program on Sustainable Development and a pioneering center on Sustainable Development studies located at Sunway University. The Jeffrey Cheah Foundation has deemed it appropriate to name this new center after Professor Sachs in order to create an institution that inspires our students daily and pays tribute to a renowned global intellectual leader who has dedicated his life’s work to sustainable development.”


“With the establishment of the Jeffrey D. Sachs Center on Sustainable Development in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I firmly believe that we have taken an important step in the right direction to develop the global expertise needed to move Malaysia and Asia forward in the area of sustainable development and to protect and preserve the planet. World-class infrastructure is already available to house the Center at Sunway University, which is located in the thriving township of Sunway Resort City. The City is a testament to rehabilitation and sustainability, listed in the Green Building Index, and fast becoming a world-class educational hub in Malaysia. Being a master developer of sustainable communities, it is my hope that Sunway communities – which includes Sunway University, Monash University Malaysia, Sunway College, Sunway International School (with over 25,000 students and academic staff), and Sunway Medical Centre, a leading private hospital – will set the benchmark for education and sustainability in this area,” added Tan Sri Dr. Cheah.


“The Jeffrey D. Sachs Center on Sustainable Development will be a hub to deepen technical knowledge and to systematically integrate knowledge across the disciplines in order to create world-class programs that train students, practitioners and policy leaders,” said Professor Wing Thye Woo, a Harvard-educated economist who has been named as the Founding Director of the Center.  Professor Woo is also the President of the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia located at Sunway University.  “The practice of Sustainable Development goes beyond responsible stewardship of the natural environment to include ongoing improvements in economic dynamism and innovation, social inclusiveness and mobility, and governance of the public and private sectors. This Malaysia-based center will work hard to develop linkages with major Malaysian universities and think tanks and with universities around the world in joint problem-solving for the SDGs.”


The collaboration between the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation and SDSN will focus on the following six objectives:


First, Sunway University in Malaysia will host the Jeffrey D. Sachs Center on Sustainable Development, set up with the support of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, as the regional center of excellence that advances SDG achievement in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. The Jeffrey Sachs Center will be a hub for research and policy practice, creating world-class programs to train a new generation of students, practitioners and policy leaders and develop linkages with major Malaysian universities and universities around the world in joint problem-solving around the SDGs. 


Second, SDSN and the Sachs Center will launch a Masters in Sustainable Development Practice program at Sunway University, designed as a flagship program for sustainable development studies in Malaysia and the region. 


Third, this gift supports a revision of the Global Masters in Development Practice curriculum to reflect the new challenges and opportunities of the SDG era (2016-2030), keep the curriculum current, and influence participating universities (including Sunway) around the world. 


Fourth, this gift supports SDSN in developing a full Program on Sustainable Development through its flagship online education initiative: SDSNedu. Under this partnership, up to ten additional Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, will be developed by global leaders in sustainable development and made available to the public and universities (including Sunway) to integrate into their sustainable development programs. 


Fifth, this gift supports and strengthens the core sustainable development activities of the SDSN Secretariat, including the development of new SDSN tools.


Sixth, SDSN and Sunway University will partner to create up to ten textbooks focused on the SDGs, creating a global library of academic and reference books and case studies aligned with a comprehensive SDG curriculum. 




About the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) to mobilize global scientific and technological expertise and to promote practical problem solving for sustainable development, including the design and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Following their adoption, the SDSN is now committed to supporting the implementation of the SDGs at local, national, and global scales. The SDSN aims to accelerate joint learning and help to overcome the compartmentalization of technical and policy work by promoting integrated approaches to the interconnected economic, social, and environmental challenges confronting the world. The SDSN works closely with United Nations agencies, multilateral financing institutions, the private sector, and civil society. The organization and governance of the SDSN aims to enable a large number of leaders from all regions and diverse backgrounds to participate in the development of the network, while at the same time ensuring effective structures for decision-making and accountability. 


About the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation 

The Jeffrey Cheah Foundation is a unique, first-of-its-kind structure in Malaysia and within the field of private higher education, modeled along the lines of some of the oldest and most eminent universities in the world, such as Harvard University. In 2010, the ownership and equity rights of the Sunway Education Group’s 12 learning institutions, including Sunway University, Monash University Malaysia, Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, four Sunway Colleges, Sunway TES Centre for Accountancy Excellence and Sunway International School, were officially and legally transferred to the Foundation, valued in excess of $200 million, making it the largest educational social enterprise in Malaysia. The Sunway Education Group still maintains significant academic ties with Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford and Lancaster Universities.

Governed by a distinguished board of eleven trustees, the majority being independent, the Foundation aims to safeguard the institution in perpetuity by ensuring that the assets and operating surpluses are used to advance the cause of providing and sustaining quality education for present and future generations of students. It continues the mandate of the Sunway Education Trust Fund established in March 1997. Both entities have disbursed in excess of $50 (RM210) million in scholarships to thousands of students.  For more information, please log on to


Gerard Mc Keon and Joyce Brooks.  Photo by:  Rose Billings/

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