When reflecting on the Covid-19 pandemic, the initial response of many is the desire to go back to normal as quickly as possible and regard the crisis as an inconvenient but short interruption. That’s probably not what lies in front of us. With a quick and likely deep recession on its way, our health systems being tested and governments continuing to exercise huge control of public life, these times will be different.
MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) lecturer Otto Scharmer wrote recently: “What if we used this disruption as an opportunity to let go of everything that isn’t essential in our life, in our work, and in our institutional routines? How might we reimagine how we live and work together?”
We must all do our best to be open to new perspectives and invite others to do the same.
Triodos Bank is part of a large community of frontrunners promoting the transition to a sustainable and inclusive economy and society. This community holds many ambitious and extensive proposals for driving change, which can now be repurposed to utilise the new momentum for strong and resilient communities and economies.
Today, naturally, everybody is busy with dealing with the immediate effects of the crisis, in hospitals, local communities and the broader economy. Tomorrow, let’s see this crisis as a wake-up call for all.
It’s time for a reset of the current economic system. The coronavirus outbreak is a terrible event. But the global ecological degradation seems to be fertile ground for this type of outbreak. The present crisis also shows the great vulnerability of our global economic system, excluding many people lacking resources and social protection. After all, it’s bad economics: the current costs in human, social and monetary terms should make everybody think. History shows it may take two crises to change. Following the financial crisis of 2008, maybe now we have arrived.
Let’s resist the attempts, already visible, to postpone the climate and food transitions or to put improving social inclusion and reducing inequality on the waiting list. Let’s reject actions of fear, blame, egoism and nationalism by offering tangible initiatives of cooperation, solidarity and humanity. The community we’ve served for the last 40 years across Europe has a lot to offer here.
National and international recovery plans should build on agendas like the European Green Deal, the redesign of the current food and agricultural system, reconnecting finance to the real economy. They should be based on markets steered by true prices and circular regulation, smart public investment plans and greening of tax systems, grants, financial regulation and trade regimes.
It’s time to move beyond economic growth as the holy grail of economic progress. We need to rebalance social, ecological and economic values to ensure the promotion of broad welfare and inclusion. Let’s revalue the ecosystems on which all human activity depends and start building a regenerative economy that respects planetary boundaries and restores the huge damage done in the past decades.
The resilient economy of the future is based on stakeholder business models being the leading models of economic development, respecting mutual dependence in good and bad times and being connected to the communities they serve.
Let’s use our hearts, heads and hands – together.
This is an extract from the full essay The Corona Crisis.
Let’s reset the economy
We believe our economy can be fairer, more humane and greener. We're calling for a reset, from grey and unequal, to green and inclusive.
Find out more about our five pillars of a new economy.