Andres Felipe Vera Ramirez
What an interesting question! …
I think a question like this requires to be examines from a system’s perspective, this is a complex problem, and as so it requires to be analyzed considering different variables like production, sales, consumption, sustainability, finance, social inequality. Briefly I can say after looking at many experts in many different fields: we have been very good at getting better on producing more and more stuff (we are now entering the 4th Industrial Revolution, and is important to take into account that producing has not only changed technically, but geographically in a on open economy). Also, we have been very good at selling many things, including stuff we don’t need and at quantities and sizes that surpass our needs as individuals. In summary, we have lived by the paradigm of ‘infinite growth’ in isolation, and not as a system.
We do have a economic challenge, growth is slowing down worldwide – and this is even more serious for a developing country like Colombia. We have a serious challenge in employment as well. Nevertheless, I prefer more than thinking on this as a catastrophe, I think it is a necessary opportunity to rethink our metrics, our goals, the consequences of our actions, to evaluate what we have had – and have offered to others, like the jobs we have had, specially in low-skilled labor.
We do have a have present economic problem, but it is not enough to think on how to fix the present, we should think on a better future that do not put us all at risk as humans.
Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab talks about ‘unchecked growth’ and its consequences: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQhGcSeLtGw).
I would recommend to talk to Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab.
I’m from Medellín, Colombia. In my city, the largest enterprise is a public company (EPM). It is focused on the public services like light, water, gas, and telecommunications – although recently sold 49% of the company to a private company -. What I have learned from following it as a business administrator (and as a journalist), is that from most investors sustainability metrics are not as strong as the flawed financial metrics we use in any other sector. I think this is one of the cases where the Theory of the Capitalist Dilemma applies, but has interesting insights from a very particular situation.
“Doing the right thing for long-term prosperity is the wrong thing for most investors, according to the tools used to guide investments”, is the Capitalist Dilemma. Well, what is interesting in this case is that “most investors” in a public company are the citizens. In this context, social metrics becomes important, the environmental metrics becomes important, but ultimately since the company has international bonds, has national and international credits, and has transferences for the local administration (which benefits citizens of course), financial metrics once again stands out as the key metrics from which the company is ultimately measured.
What is particularly tricky about a company like this is that it has been a monopoly in most sectors where it operates (except for telecommunications), so most of its innovations are performance improving innovations, and efficiency innovations. It feels safe. Market creating innovations seems to be even more distant for a company like this one, than for other other kind of companies.