I received this commentary from the Shaping Tomorrow futures network in an email today. My view is that collaboration in response to the many inter-connected crises of our time is an essential response. Crises contains both great challenge and great opportunity!
From Crisis to Collaboration?
Sheila Moorcroft, Research Director, Shaping Tomorrow
The financial crisis, the economic crisis and now the climate crisis: the news appears to be getting worse. But could that also be the trigger for a change of attitude; a genuine recognition that we are in it together, that if we are to avoid the worst, then acting together is key. That too may be happening.
What is changing?
The news on the economic and financial fronts continues to look bad with the largest ever corporate loss resulting in the AIG bail out; Japan’s exports shrinking by 46%; the World Bank forecasting that the world economy will shrink for the first time since World War 2 – to name but three events.
The climate change news is perhaps even worse, indicating that if we are in uncharted waters on the economic front, here we may have fallen off the map altogether! The International Scientific Congress on Climate Change meeting estimated that the worst case scenarios from the previous International Panel on Climate Change report are occurring now, not in 10, 20 or 50 years time: now. Meanwhile, climate change experts apparently feel a little like Cassandra: doomed to say the truth, but not get their message across to convince the public.
But there are signs of emerging collaboration, a recognition that ‘we are in it together’. The upcoming G20 is one such turning point, recognizing as it does the arrival of a genuinely multi-polar world. It has already engendered a first: the first ever joint communique from the BRIC nations ( Brazil, Russia, India and China) in the run up to the G20 preliminary talks, on the need for international action on the economy and reform of the financial system. OPEC meanwhile has foregone a cut in oil production to boost prices, in the wider interests of supporting global economic growth. Leading Chinese industrialists have called for cooperation on climate change and a move towards a low carbon economy.
Why is this important?
There are many potential routes to the future, with a wide variety of opportunities for taking the wrong turn. The recent Foresight Network report on global recovery shows some of the possible routes to the future. Rather than a common enemy against which to unite, we may be seeing genuine recognition of a shared crisis through which to collaborate. We may be seeing the emerging signs of a new spirit of that collaboration.