Do we really want the recovery of the current economy, ask Wouter van Dieren and Arnold Heertje, two Dutch economists in the newspaper NRC Handelsblad? Because that system leads to an ecological disaster of unprecedented scale if growth is restored on the same level? Shouldn’t we have a new moral code for bankers, wrote a group of politicians and economists yesterday in another newspaper de Volkskrant? The time of “greed is good” from the famous movie Wall Street some 20 years ago is over. Even the godfather of shareholder capitalism, Jack Welch now sees the focus on quarterly results as the “dumbest idea in the world”. Shareholders value is not a strategy, but a result he preaches now, repentant. In short, the time of the old belief in markets has gone, for the time being…
There is broad support for a Green New Deal as solution for the economic crisis. And with good arguments. If we have to stimulate the economy, let’s use the opportunity to do invest as green as possible. But a Green New Deal is not sufficient, I think. Because we are dealing with a manifold systems crisis of our economic, social and last but not least our ecological system.
If we don’t take drastic measures our global ecosystem will end within a few decades, at least as the living environment for humankind. Global warming, deforestation, diminishing biodiversity, the endless harvesting of raw materials without pay back will lead to that. The subtitle of James Lovelock’s (the developer of the Gaia theory, the earth as a living system) new book The Vanishing Face of Gaia is A Final Warning for good reasons.
The second systems crisis is in our financial and economic system. Talking with people in this sector you can still see the panic in their eyes, like rabbits catched in the headlights. Fear to move, no way out. From all sides solutions are suggested: bad banks, new business banks, moral codes. But nowhere I have seen the fundamental question on the role of the banking system in our society of the future? In what way can the financial system support a sustainable future with a living ecosystem?
The third systems crisis we will see is that of the labor market and social security. Over the last twenty years the social security system has been reorganized thoroughly, fitting better to the demands of a flexible economy. The buffering inherent in the system for bad times has been strongly diminished, but if the system is up to the designed faster circulation from job to job has never been tested during the economic bubble of the last decades. The job crisis is here to stay, writes The Economist on its front page today.
It´s not improbable that the European Rhineland model of market organization will have the wind in the sails if even people like Jack Welch emphasize the importance of stakeholders. Nothing wrong with that of course. But not enough. Because the focus of many governments, companies and ngo´s is mostly on their mutual relations of force. And experience, also from the Dutch “polder model” shows that it is strong on forging consensus, but much weaker in creating innovation.
For sustainable innovation we need to look “from the whole” of the systems. And even stronger, from the reality that is emerging, as much as possible. With respect to the sustainable renewal of the financial system that means:
1. Open all fences, and make possible that innovation can come from outside the sector. On top of that make sure that at least 1% of all government support to banks is invested in sustainable innovation.
2. Create a platform for dialogue on the future of the sector, where all sectors of society participate. Bring together the worlds of ecosystems, health care, labor market, schools with the banking sector. This platform should be a state-of-the-art network for co-sensing and co-creating a better future.
3. Involve the next generation leader in the development of a sustainable financial sector. An enormous amount of knowledge and energy is piled up with young future leaders within and outside the financial world. And they will be happy to be involved, creating a future for themselves also.