Can economy save the planet?

Posted June 09, 2020

There was already an ongoing discussion about new economic models before the pandemic struck. It was mainly fuelled by the need for a more holistic logic for how we run the world. A substantial part of the arguments against the idea of revising the current economic logic, has been that it would be too difficult to change.

Everything is so geared around these financial principles that it could only be seen as a pointless project to pursue such a naive dream. Well, that has changed.

The pandemic has shown that, however impossible, the world has come to a halt, chased into a new paradigm by a virus. The only issue is that we have no idea what the new paradigm is. Pandemic lockdowns for starters. Who knows what will come for main course and dessert.

There are a few people who have thought about this long before the crisis. Some have realised that people are not treated according our moral standards with the current system. Some state that the planet is being run down as we strive for progress. Kate Raworth claims that we are jeopardising both people and planet, thereby suggesting a donut as a metaphor. Degrowth and the New Green Deal are other proposals for a new world order. And then there are those who don’t care as long as it’s their world order. But never mind.

Regardless of which arguments will prevail beyond the pandemic, it is undoubtedly so, that we need a new economic logic. For two reasons. First we need a system that measures improvement so that it speaks to us as individuals. Pure economic metrics does not explain why I value having three more laughs a month than a year ago. Secondly we need a system that automatically considers at least a 50 year horizon. Otherwise we will have had our planet for breakfast and starve for lunch.

The pandemic is not just the ironic proof that we could change what was seen as impossible to change. It is also the leverage we need to extend our quantum leap into a more sustainable future. The Bridge Summit will not only lead with a three-hour-session on this topic. This year’s Summit will gather people from around the world and turn challenges into sustainable solutions by demonstrating that new economic systems are an inevitable part of the future.