World Radical Restaurative Action
Despite what we may be tempted to say, twenty twenty-one was not 2020 on repeat, and the entry in the new year has a rather different mood. The world kept its unpredictability, increased its complexity, continued to display its volatility, but people devised ways to reduce the uncertainty. It didn’t always work, since the two major issues, Climate Change and Covid-19, that will define our global society for the foreseeable future did not go away. They evolved. We certainly feel more the impact of both these phenomena, and we witness their constant transformation. We learn to adapt to Climate Change, and we are learning how to live with Covid. At a global level, the Economist predicted 9 trends to watch in the short to medium future:
Democracy vs. Autocracy
Which is better at delivering stability, growth and innovation? A question to which different people would answer differently, and that reflects the conflict between China and the West.
Pandemic to endemic
Humanity is taking steps towards accepting the fact that COVID-19 is here to stay, in a form or another. This acceptance means that many ways of thinking and ways of doing will be changed forever, without the desire to come back to status quo ante.
Inflation driven by supply chain disruption and energy prices
A trend that scares a lot of economists and that puts pressures on consumers’ savings
The future of work - hybrid, but in whose terms?
As work from home became the rule for many sectors, a lot of the workforce is opting out of the work market for good. The paradox of the simultaneous surplus of workforce and of work is perhaps the indicator of entering in a new stage of automation, and a new stage of relating to the act of working itself.
Crypto grows up
Currencies get more regulated and widely used - Central Banks develop their own, while some small nation states such as Salvador adopt the existing ones. What will this do to the current architecture of global finance is anybody’s guess. Will we have a “domesticated”, regulated system, a crunch of crypto, an obsolescence of traditional money, or all at once?
Can the clear threat of Climate Change create new terms of cooperation between the West, China and India? Judging by the current situation and the inconclusive COP-26 meeting, the climate change action may emerge more from grass-root initiatives and from consumer pressure on corporations, than from grandiose governments agreements, although these are badly needed in order to tackle the current situation.
As much as half of business travel is gone for good. That is relatively good for the planet, but bad for tourists whose trips are subsidised by high-spending business travellers. It also transforms the economies of entire cities and countries that relied previously on mass tourism.
2022 will be the first year in which more people go to space as paying passengers than government employees. Space is becoming a civilian realm with significant business interests. Falling out of any country's jurisdiction, Space governing and regulation will probably be an important point of conversation on Earth, and it will truly become the last frontier for businesses.
These general trends are felt in different ways in individual and collective moods. In Romania, this year seems to preserve a trend that started with the pandemic: the desire to lead a meaningful and rather ordered life. This is perhaps as much a direct reaction to the perceived instability and chaos of the volatile global context, as it is a response to the sentiment of fragility of life that COVID-19 reminds us of. However, the overall sentiment is positive. Encouraged by the relative normalisation of everyday life under the new conditions, people express feelings of gratitude, love, warmth and hope.
Resilient trends geared towards restoring humanity are scoring high, and solidarity seems to be the way to achieve these noble aspirations. A new trend, Immunity, appears to score high, and in a way it is a more refined indicator of the resolve for resilience. Despite this, the important trends of Empathy and Search of Authenticity continue to be perceived as individual, and not collectively shared. People seem to perceive themselves as alone in these pursuits, thus accentuating a certain social disconnect.
Perhaps it is precisely for this reason that the need for collective, restaurative action is felt at the level of the population. However, the glue that would bring together these tendencies and make them move from hope to action, as well as the spark necessary to make us spring into action seems to be missing. Encouraged and nudged in the right directions, Romanians as a collectivity may release a lot of creative energy towards restoring humanity. Who could light the spart? Certainly not someone looking for confirmation. Left to stale, the impetus may engender frustration and the energy may turn towards negativity. Corporations and businesses should look into these unreleased energies for inspiration and to shape their choices in the future. Remains to be seen who has the magic formula of the glue, and the courage to set alight the fire.