World, Economy

Can we hit the reset button on capitalism?

Dethroning economic growth may seem utopian, but we could do a better job sacrificing in recognition of our planet's limits

Aysu Bicer   | 05.07.2020
Can we hit the reset button on capitalism?

ANKARA

As the world tries to extricate itself from the web of hardships spun by the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing has become clearer than ever, which is that new ways of conceiving economics for the benefit of human well-being are urgently needed.

"In these early decades of the twenty-first century, the master story is economic: economic beliefs, values and assumptions are shaping how we think, feel and act," wrote F.S. Michaels in her book Monoculture: How One Story Is Changing Everything.

Echoing her views, Kate Raworth, an Oxford University economist, proclaims that economics is the lingua franca of public policy and the mindset that shapes society.

Perhaps this is why experts in the field of economics now are taking a long, hard look at a mass of facts, since the public has branded the failures of the current economic system our enemy.

The time seems ripe for economists and political philosophers to use their influence over governments and political leaders in the policy-making process in the post-virus era.

The seriousness of the issue has been also highlighted by Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), at the annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland of leading political and economic figures.

He once said: "We can emerge from this crisis a better world if we act quickly and jointly."

According to Schwab, the recent pandemic represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and hit the reset button on our world.

Although dethroning economic growth as the driver of our system may seem like a utopian target to some, governments still could make some economic sacrifices in order to create a new future in which the limits of our planet are better acknowledged.

Reset in the cards?

Showing optimism, Olivier Schwab, one of the managing directors at the WEF, stressed that with the pandemic, a great opportunity can be seized to put some of the big themes on the table to make the world more sustainable.

Can we hit the reset button on capitalism?

He said that is why the 2021 Davos summit will be held under the theme of the Great Reset.

The World Economic Forum defines the Great Reset as a "commitment to jointly and urgently build the foundations of an economic and social system for a more fair, sustainable and resilient future."

"If you look at what happened in Davos this year, we really arrived at a culmination of thinking around what many people call the environment, social and governance," he explained.

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria are an increasingly popular way for investors to evaluate companies they might want to invest in, helping them shun companies that might pose a greater financial risk due to damaging the environment or other harmful practices.

The WEF manager said that in a way, the coronavirus crisis has accelerated the recognition of these criteria among business and policy leaders.

He said: “We have a very concrete project on ESG metrics, which has been driven by 100 of our leading CEOs (WEF members).

"These are large multinational companies, and together with them, we are developing a set of standards which we will then promote and have these companies adopt as part of their reporting."

The purpose of forming such standards is to integrally change the way businesses are run, making them more eco-friendly, he said.

The Great Reset agenda of next year's Davos conference will focus on the unaddressed problems that leave the world less sustainable, less equal, and more fragile.

Despite it rearing its head like a waking nightmare, the pandemic has proven how quickly people can make radical changes to their lifestyles.

All of sudden, the crisis forced businesses and individuals to quit practices long seen as unquestioned as the air we breathe, from frequent air travel to working in an office.

And this is what made the organizers of Davos think of reshaping the ecosystem.

According to them, the 51st annual meeting will play a vital role in achieving a better outcome, revamping all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts to working conditions, in hopes of a better and fairer world.

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