Hold on to hope: a pathway to a better future
By Dr. Gresa Latifi (Economist)
Humankind was living for $1 (in today’s values) per day for an exceptionally long time, until the Scientific and Industrial Revolution. The later, made humans capable to not only understand the world better but also to be able to change it drastically. Today life expectancy is better; there is a lower proportion of people living in extreme poverty; an increasingly high rate of countries has become democratic, and there is the technology which is becoming capable of solving further remaining problems. Did the economic progress that saw a rise in the last decades bring challenges along? How should these challenges be tackled? The issues coming along with all the economic advancements made so far are not minor ones. They are relatively big, and they do threaten the harmony of humanity. The importance of the issue at stake has resulted in an extensive debate that analyses the (negative) externalities of economic advancements. However, there is no clear systematisation of the knowledge that portrays what these challenges are and how to tackle them. Hence, the present work provides a systemic analysis of that regard, by first, encountering the challenges and then, reviewing (proposing) channels that can assist in confronting them.
The economic progress made so far has come at a high cost for our planet. Climate change has reached us due to the massive economic activity that has been ruining the creatures that sustain our planet. A foreseeable climate catastrophe could transform several parts of the world into uninhabitable environments, and that can threaten our existence. Then, the technological advancements apart from the positive externalities (an increase of productivity, e.g.), they have created several global risks.
(1) Synthetic biology which we see on the horizon may give people the power to develop viruses of exceptional contagiousness.
(2) At the same time, technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) might allow humans to create intelligent instruments that are even smarter than themselves, which in turn can play against them (Mayer-Schönberger and Cukier, 2013).
(3) Another negative externality of technological improvement is inequality which got more expansive, not only when comparing the other part of the world with the West (which counts more than world’s average GDP), but also within national economies.
As it is stated in “Good Economics for Hard Times”, the gap between the rich and the poor has never been wider (Banerjee and Duflo, 2019).
(4) The advancements made during the last decades encouraged some politicians to promote immigrants as stealers of native workers jobs, something that is not proven scientifically.
(5) Finally, we see a rise of trade wars: protectionism and unilateralism as measures against globalisation. The existing challenges, if not tackled, make it hard for us to live together in the future.
Sitting in the front seat
Based on the above elaboration of the existing challenges imposed by economic development, this part aims at presenting channels that can be used to improve the current situation. Being a policymaker, one of the leaders, or researchers, a civil society member that rises the voice to promote evidence-based initiatives could be in some way allow an individual to leave footprints on the future of humanity. Apart from these specific tasks, one could have a positive impact in the future of humankind by voting (most societies nowadays are eligible to vote) politicians who call for innovative, inclusive, and sustainable growth. Innovative growth opts to foster an institutional infrastructure that encourages innovation, and which removes physical fences to allow the knowledge to spill over at an international scale. Inclusive growth encourages globalisation by promoting openness and inclusion, which should, in turn, increase preferences for politicians who promote the multilateral trading system. There is a significant need for an institutional infrastructure that has a detailed plan to improve energy and environmental governance and build sustainable growth. With the later pandemic Covid-19, the power should be given only to those who anticipate global scale risks with vigilance.
To sum up, history has taught us that only by supporting governors who see beyond their own countries’ temporary objectives, will we be able to co-exist peacefully while vigorously developing our planet further.
- Banerjee, A. V., & Duflo, E. (2019). Good economics for hard times: Better answers to our biggest problems. Penguin UK.
- Hinderstein, C. (Ed.). (2013). Cultivating confidence: verification, monitoring, and enforcement for a world free of nuclear weapons. Hoover Press.
- Mayer-Schönberger, V., & Cukier, K. (2013). Big data: A revolution that will transform how we live, work, and think. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.