The global pandemic has highlighted the failure of the system to respond adequately to people's basic needs. The long-awaited "return to normality" would mean going back to where we left off, to an unequal economic system that would leave many social and economic realities behind, even more than in the pre-pandemic period. We can; indeed, we must, do better.
The COVID-19 offers an opportunity to rethink the way we work with respect for people and the planet by redesigning our economic and social systems in this sense.
B Corp-certified companies, like Goldmann & Partners (since 2017) that are already used to measuring their positive impact within the communities in which they operate and, on the environment, tried to figure out how. B Corp showed great ability to adapt and cooperate in withstanding the crisis by adapting to the new circumstances; in this way, they have managed to stay afloat with each other.
Resilience and adaptation are the key words of new business strategies in the post-pandemic future.
Recovery requires an economic system that rewards not only damage limitation strategies but also those that address long-term social and environmental problems. Such an economy is described in the Doughnut Economics model by British economist Kate Roworth. The model defines the field of existence of sustainable development within two limits, the hole and the crust of the doughnut. The first represents the social dimension, the availability of essential resources that guarantees respect for human rights; the second, the crust, describes the environmental aspect and the use of natural resources by man. Beyond these boundaries, in one sense and the other, conditions of human deprivation and ecological degradation respectively occur. Sustainable development is only possible if these two limits are respected.
An ecosystem is healthy when all its components are in balance, and each one contributes to the prosperity of the whole system. If even a single element goes into crisis, a domino effect could cause devastating consequences for the entire system. A healthy economic ecosystem needs functions that complement and counterbalance each other to remain flourishing:
- a private sector that redesigns its business models while respecting social and environmental limits;
- an efficient public sector that maintains its autonomy from the private sector;
- a non-profit sector that acts as a catalyst for change and a reference point for businesses and institutions;
- robust and widespread partnerships in all industries to increase competitiveness for individuals by sharing resources.
Transforming our economy is a monumental task, a radical change that requires a new social contract between governments, businesses, employees and people in general.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how dependent we are on each other and the systems we rely on, from the food chain to health care. Something has not worked. It is time to redesign these systems in the long term with greater resilience and shared prosperity objectives. Companies need to invest more resources in cooperation with other sectors and their customers, non-profit organizations need to create productive and strategic partnerships, and institutions need to provide a regulatory infrastructure that encourages new approaches.
In this way, using interdependence as a guiding principle for the design of new economic systems, everyone can play their part.
The change will not happen unless we make it relevant to everyone.
Photo credits: bthechange.com; Kate Raworth and Christian Guthier The Lancet Planetary Health; F1 Digitals from Pixabay