The case for global collaboration

(Making this Dream come true 2/5)

On December 16, 2021, we are launching the new series “Towards Global Collaboration”. It follows the series “Towards a Caring Culture”, that ended on December 2 with a powerful session on the Culture of Compassion, which I hope will lead to fruitful outcomes for citizens of Europe and the world.

By the way, note that I will be posting a report on this series soon, as well as the previous ones – Dream Big for Europe, Ted circles, etc. Subscribe to this blog if you want to be part of this global movement which will give a real boost to co-leadership, participatory democracy and cooperation.

As you know, my aim is to contribute to grow this exceptional civilisation, master of its destiny, its choices and its concessions. In short, another conception of freedom, which ends neither in blood nor in tears.

Without any utopia however, but with real knowledge of the possibilities of a civilisation, which has become more complex, more global and potentially more thoughtful and caring for humanity, for other species and for our dear planet Earth.

Tomorrow, therefore, it is with great excitement that we are entering a new phase in the life of Together-Ensemble. This time, the objective is to see the need for action at global level to solve our main complex problems – the famous mega challenges – to prepare a better future for all. It’s time to stop masking our eyes. Problems, which are either near or far, are equally real. This is why, I don’t see any reason to party when every day more people are asking for social assistance (but I won’t come back to it again in this post).

And tomorrow, what better than to focus on this pandemic that we have not started off on the right foot for 2 years and that we would see well concluded in 2022?

In this post, it seems imperative to me to take stock of the current situation, and the strategies that have been taken. In light of my experience and my knowledge, I would take you a step back from the problem or problems, the lessons learnt, and how we need to rethink it or them.

Among the comments received on previous articles, I was asked to offer concrete studies to accompany the reflection. Here is an attempt to do so. This will allow me to illustrate more powerfully the need for essential balances, which is the second condition for realising the dream, after the realism we were talking about yesterday. And, for this, let me take the case of Europe, which I know better.

The Covid-19 situation in Europe through the lenses of certain essential dynamic balances

These essential balances that we have identified as one of the key principles of the Dream, in a last post (Prepare the Dream 2/5) are the only way to fight against inequalities. As we know, Covid-19 is above all a crisis of inequalities. “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought social and racial injustice and inequity to the forefront of public health”.

Through the following dynamic balances, the message is simplification yes, not reductionism, normalisation, or suppressing parts of the whole we would not like to see. In Europe, as everywhere else, the Covid 19 acted like another big bang – a big alarm signal which brutally denounced a number of silent transformations and the necessary transitions, in many fields – social, economic, health, digital, education, or geopolitics.

Now let’s put our new glasses with the following essential balances, and from there, identify where we should put our priority, ideally at global level.

1 / Togetherness vs Protectionism

We have observed overall a sense of solidarity, which is the beauty of our humanity. A number of measures – mainly financial and fiscal – have been taken and the results show the effectiveness of public support and EU funds in reducing the impact of the crisis, which will have a positive impact on living together.

Yet, we also saw the limitations of certain ways of thinking (polarisation, closed mindset, authoritarianism, blaming, and linear thinking, for example). They seem to have the opposite effects on the resolution of the pandemic, as we see that the vulnerable populations continue to be the most affected (mainly youth, women and ethnic minorities), as well as vulnerable businesses.

  • For example: in France, the unemployment rate was 17.7% among 15-24 year old during the fourth quarter of 2020. For comparison, it was “only” 7.6% among 25-49 year old. The pandemic has indeed forced millions of women out of the workforce. The most privileged students and teachers have been able to cope with the changes brought about by the school closures, but they are not among the majority. We could also speak about the increase in domestic and intimate partner violence (by 30% during the first lockdown). Hence, we saw that those who suffered most physically from the Covid disease were the ethnic minorities.

A key question is therefore whether we are taking all necessary measures needed for the most vulnerable? There does not seem to be any clear pattern related to vaccinated / non-vaccinated people, so it’s clear that the most vulnerable are not to be overlooked. On the contrary, if this is an inequality disease, then we have to focus most solutions to reduce the inequality. This is how we will fight this disease for good. Is this what we have been doing so far? Let me doubt this.

2 / Economics vs Health

As a result of the lockdowns and other restrictive measures, the economy as well as the physical and mental healths of the entire population have been very exposed. We could see a continuous negotiation between health & economy, which proves to contribute to a more resilient Europe.

But two things in particular have been striking to me, and it is first the lack of negotiation between physical and mental health, when we see for instance that the least protected sectors have been culture, education, and tourism, which are known to have most impact on wellbeing.

Secondly, food consumption and pharmaceutical industries have been among the least exposed, which tend to forget how much COVID-19 is a metabolic disease, and the calls from leading scientists and doctors for big changes in these sectors. (“Ultra processed food sets you up for inflammation that Covid-19 will exploit”, Malhotra & Lustig, and read recent articles from The Lancet on the topics).

3 / Centralization vs Decentralization

We can speak about the centralized approach on the way the vaccines have been managed for instance, which proved to be benefitial to ensure better coordination, reduce cost, or ensure even distribution. And the beneficial shift as well to a more decentralised one, which proved to be successful to avoid a larger spread, when specific measures have been taken at the level of a smaller territory (in France, for instance, we saw this happening at the level of a city, of a department or even a region).

There is more and more evidence that self-organisation and community approach in the frame of a global elimination strategy could well be the key to reduce considerably the number of cases, and above all the impact of new variants. Powerful apps and tests could equip the toolbox of these self-organised communities.

4 / Freedom vs Confinement

Vaccination is presented as the alternative to confinement. It is for many the choice of freedom (for probably most of the 67% people vaccinated by now). Paradoxically, it is seen as “anti-freedom” by the health pass and other anti-vax protesters, whose influence seems to reduce more and more. We are far from the million of participants in the yellow vest protests for instance.

It does not mean there is nothing to learn about these movements, which tend to prove a growing gap between two perceptions over the value of freedom. This is calling for adaptations in our leadership model, in order to avoid even more violent wake up calls in the future related to undemocratic approaches, such as the vaccines mandates. There seems to be a clear need to reconsider the notion of ownership and move towards shared authorship of the future.

Think about the issue with misinformation for instance. People are keen to share their opinions and contribute to the decision-making. Let’s make the most of this.

5 / Status Quo vs Innovation

All measures related to Covid-19 may have a strategic potential to encourage the transformations which are needed. For instance, they could clearly have the potential to accelerate the green agenda, to address the planetary emergency. It started for instance with: digitization of culture, e-commerce, e-banking, or, the rescue of the aeronautical industry, on the basis that they would halve their emissions by passenger by 2050. A more benevolent innovation could well be accelerated thanks to this crisis.

We also noted the need to maintain a certain form of status quo and stability.

By its unprecedented nature, the pandemic placed parents on the front line to ensure not only the health and well-being of their children, but also the pursuit of their academic learning. It would be crucial to lead a real reflection on education & parenting. But also the collective role of society to support their youth, as well as to equip them for the challenges ahead.

What all of this tells us about the way forward at global level

From this little analysis, we see a need to pool the most urgent measures on which to focus, in order to put an end to this crisis in 2022.

  • Moving towards co-authorship of the future, openness and critical thinking with liquid democracy principles and systemizing evidence-based and transparent policymaking for a shared “ownership” especially about the commons such as the future of tourism, education, digital, health, the ocean , etc. (we really have to understand that when we compartmentalize issues, we make it impossible afterwards to align. And we end up with unproductive ideas such as the vaccines and distant measures, as the only solutions to a complex interdependent issue, like Covid-19).
  • Adopting a community-based approach to ensure the elimination of Covid, empowering groups with apps, tests, competencies of co-leadership…
  • Simplifying access to knowledge and certifying independent expertise. We saw how difficult it is to access independent evidence-based science in these times of crisis, and how changing fundamentally the way we do science communication could well speed up the resolution of the next crises.
  • Creating a human enhancement programme in order to equip our civilisation with the most important skills for our time (saga mode, like Together-Ensemble, most skills have been identified in my previous post to prepare the dream).
  • Rethinking parenting role in education and providing guaranteed basic income in times of crisis.
  • Protecting considerably better the most vulnerable (mainly women, youth, ethnic minorities) by putting solidarity mechanisms in place, starting a commonng exercise, which will be accompanied by a clear compass towards well-being ; and limitations to set a cap for progress.
  • Rethinking totally food & pharmaceutical sectors to improve the health of the whole population, changing guidelines, restricting innovation that harms for innovation that heals.
  • Accompanying the trend towards ruralisation, as more and more businesses adopt hybrid ways of working and people decide to leave the cities for the countryside (a right move to reduce pollution and increase quality of life).
  • Introducing iterative learning (test & learn approach) for policymaking. It would help improve the decisions made at global level while ensuring that no population (human or not) be endangered by them.
  • Fighting the very notions of efficiency and stability, for essential balances instead. Time to find back the radicality of the nuance and move the cursors wisely to adapt to the particular context, populations, environment to start with.

To conclude, let me ask you: What society do we want to become post-Covid? We have an amazing opportunity to improve everything, let’s do it. Personally, I could not stand leaving anyone behind.

Photo by Evgeniy Alekseyev on Pexels.com

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