In today's Financiële Dagblad (the Netherland's main financial newspaper) published a report on a closed (sic!) meeting of scientists, ceo's and key government officals on the future of the financial sector and the relationship between government and markets. "Cooperative banking can lead to the smell of Brussels sprouts", was the telling header.
What always strikes me at these meetings that nobody ever changes opinion and that reports - how well and creatively written - never provide more than the catalogue of contradictory prescriptions that
circulate already for weeks in media and politics. This kind of meeting seems to be useless. Or is it the contacts that important players can have with each other? I have attented these meetings for many years, but never saw a new solution originate there.
What should happen then to make the financial sector contribute to a more sustainable world? For a start stop bickering about the question of guilt for the current financial crisis (but do thorough research of course). And then a a first step let's have a good look at how the system is structured. What we know from the food sector for instance is that if we want to make it more sustainable you cannot start at one piece of the chain. It won't help to protest at your butcher's door that his meat is not organic. No, you have to take a view from "seed to cutlet" (in Dutch: from "zaadje to karbonaadje"): take the whole chain into account. That's also important for the financial sector, that has gone into a systems crisis. If we want to change that (and w'll have to) then we will have to bring all relevant interests to the table. Between consumers, bankers, investors, business, but also civil society stakeholders and - unmistakenly - also the ecosystems within which we live.
"Getting the whole system in the room", Peter Senge calls that. This crisis is so fundamental that all stakeholders will have to start moving together. Bringing together bankers, scientists, ceo's and key government offical isn't enough. The system is far more complex and wider. And secondly, we will have to bring the people that represent these microcosmos in to a dialogue with each other in a completely different way, because a debate apparently does only lead to the
classical repertoire of opinions. How to do that is something for a next blog.
For now I will end with two questions: What should we do more? And what is the best way to do that?