The world is turned upside down since the corona crisis. This gives us the space to think about a complete ‘reset’. How can we restructure existing dysfunctional systems? In this RESET series, Pakhuis de Zwijger will showcase the perspectives of a variety of thought leaders who will reflect on this present-day situation.
In this RESET edition, moderator Jurgen is interviewing Eva Gladek, founder and CEO of Metabolic. We return to a new normal now. Is it possible to create a new normal, a complete reset? To create a new future? Eva replies how she ran back home to Amsterdam from New York, the day the lockdown restrictions were put in place: “I think the shutdown of normal activities has created space to reflect. It was a good time to re-examine the greater state of the world. How are we going to handle this as we move forward?”
Eva continuous: “Questions arise, is this world ever going to be the same? How will it effect our work? Metabolic did well during the lockdown, we saw the interest in sustainability increasing. Organisations are opening up to new ways to cope and work on a sustainable future. Metabolic is an ecosystem of organisations, to help organisations to be part of the transition to create a fundamentally sustainable world. We’re looking at the root causes that need to be solved and how to correct those and move society in the right direction. We’re addressing them like ninjas: apply pressure on the right pressure points that are at the root of these causes.”
An important concept for this is the circular economy, where processes are actually designed to work in a waste free, regenerative way right from the start. Eva: “It’s like a natural eco-system, where everything is re-absorbed or re-purposed. We have to mimic natural systems and their intelligence. So we adapted the definition of a circular economy to include seven main pillars of performance, including social aspects.”
Eva: “From now on we will re-imagine the economy and escape the 9 to 5 grind’ is mentioned. We have been thinking about green recovery plans the wrong way. There is actually a positive future if we take the opportunities that this crisis has created to move into a new, more sustainable circular economy. We have to use this opportunity to talk about deep economic reform, to create a better economy. Building Back Better is a way to move forward from COVID-19. But we should go much further then the current greenwash that takes place.”
Eva: “Automation is not just about jobs. Historically the invention of machines and fossil fuels increased efficiency and caused an amazing transition. Keynes predicted that in a 100 years we would only have to work 15 hours a week, driven by increases in prosperity. By now, we know that this prediction was wrong. While the world’s GDP has gone up 35 times and the population increased just 4 times in size in the past 100 years, there should be a huge increase in overall prosperity. But again, this is not the case. The rise in automation has created a dramatic inequality. Our economic system is designed to create this inequality.
Continuous growth of our economy results in a similar, exponential growth of ecological destruction. We’re crossing the planetary boundaries of what constitutes a sustainable planet.”
Reform the system
Eva: “This current system needs to be reformed: Building back to create a genuinely better, circular world. There is a lot we can do. What we need to do is work together to bring genuine change. We shouldn’t focus on growth as such, but on the wellbeing of populations. We have to create an economy that allows people to participate themselves, instead of being forced to work in mindless jobs.”
Matthew is co-founder of Raise Green, an investor marketplace for local impact investing in clean energy and climate solution projects. Matt: “How can the system be changed to make it more inclusive and how can it contribute to local communities? How can we connect capital to all these new projects that are starting up worldwide to move us in the right direction? We notice that the interest in sustainable investing is growing rapidly, funds are created, but the actual investment in viable projects lags behind. Verifiability of sustainable projects is an important requirement for these funds to start flowing.”. Raise Green screens all projects before they go open for investment on 5 pillars: revenue, ambition, impact, social and environmental.
Time for Action
Matt and Eva agree that the time for action is now! No more waiting for endless reports, what they think is needed is getting all these new projects up and running and start learning by doing, every step on the way.
Do you want to watch the full livestream? Visit the website of Pakhuis de Zwijger: <https://dezwijger.nl/programma/from-now-on-according-to-eva-gladek>
The discussion of this evening is exactly the discussion that needs to take place. The time for action is now! The transition from a linear to a circular economy asks for collaboration between the public and private sector, something we work on every day, together with partners like Metabolic. Learning by doing, every time.