Ladeja Godina Košir is Executive Director at Circular Change and Co-chair of the European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform. I talked to her about how the pandemic has caused us to question what we value most and created the opportunity to prioritise human and natural capital over financial capital.
‘Everything is interdependent and interconnected’
‘Science fiction’ actually became a reality for people during the pandemic. Things that were taken for granted became so much more important to us.
Before Covid we, humans, felt like the masters of everything. Now we are a bit humbler. We realized that we are part of nature – not detached from it.
Our understanding of the need for a systemic approach became much clearer and less theoretical. It’s helped us to see how everything is interdependent and interconnected.
In this respect it was a very good experience – to appreciate what makes us human, with a sense of belonging to nature. Our humanity was challenged.
‘An opportunity to co-create a new socio-economic narrative’
I’m also very sensitive to the narrative that we co-create.
Language is so important. Not only the words, but the way we use these words. We have an opportunity to co-create a new socio-economic narrative. Based upon a sense of community – on shared values and a vision of the desired future.
Some people are using military language – describing how we have to ‘fight and win’. It’s an aggressive way of trying to fix things. Fear can never lead to a positive change.
I believe that we should learn how to embrace change and enable safe spaces for inclusive discussions and problem-solving.
It’s about being humble – acknowledging that we don’t have all the answers. Recognising that more dialogue is needed. To show more tolerance and accept that we are in a learning process.
‘Re-invent the way we live’
I really hope that as a result of the pandemic we will rethink what kind of future we would like to live in. By embracing change, not trying to go against the facts.
We are at a point where we can choose whether to let something new emerge. Or we stay within our comfort zone and try to build things back as they used to be.
I sincerely hope that we are wise enough to re-invent the way we live, work, run our societies and economies. And also, to actually ‘walk the talk’.
The opportunity is not to try and ‘cure’ things. It’s to understand the reasons why the world is like it is. This ‘why’ question is so much more important.
‘Gaia has its own rules and evolution’
We have realized that the Covid health crisis is just a part of the bigger climate crisis – it’s not a separate thing.
Our response to Covid is just a small intervention – which we can temporarily cure with one injection – until the next crisis.
We cannot predict what will come next – but Covid has shown us that we should be ready and more sensitive to what we are causing.
We must understand that Gaia has its own rules and evolution – as humans we are part of a much bigger system.
‘Natural capital has been taken for granted’
I believe that everything starts with what we value most.
There are more different kinds of capital – let’s take financial, human and natural capital.
For a long time, people have focused upon financial capital. And whilst human capital has been recognized, it’s not really been valued as much as financial capital.
At the same time, natural capital has been taken for granted – it hasn’t been given any value in the market.
Covid has given us an opportunity to reconsider what we value and re-prioritise these three capitals.
‘We actually have all the resources needed’
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of the local aspects of our lives – our families, neighbours and local communities.
Once you understand this local context, you realize that we actually have all the resources needed on the planet to enable a good life for everyone within the planetary boundaries.
The issue is not scarce resources – we have them in abundance – the challenge is the distribution.
In the context of the SDGs, we are realizing that responsible production and consumption is the key – we need to produce less and consume less of everything.
We’re re-discovering how to mindfully manage our resources – beginning at a local level.
As a result of recent transport delays of certain materials, businesses have realized how dependent they are on other markets within their value chain.
They see that they need a different approach to world resources. Once we use a resource, we should think about how to maintain this value in the production and consumption cycle for as long as possible. This is the core of a circular economy.
‘Stakeholders need to collaborate and co-create’
We’ve faced a crisis in many of our systems, such as healthcare and education for example.
These challenges have called for greater integration. The need for the participation of different stakeholders in decision-making is becoming more crucial.
Orchestration of government, local communities, the business sector and NGOs has become essential as a result of Covid.
All stakeholders need to collaborate and co-create – otherwise we can only go back to what we used to have and what is obviously not working well.
‘The growing trend of digital nomads’
Covid has also shown us the need for a more balanced life. We are becoming more aware of the importance of our family life.
We can see the growing trend of digital nomads. People are asking why they need go to an office for eight hours if they can work remotely from anywhere.
At the same time, employees are becoming more purpose-driven. And once people start following their purpose, the traditional employment incentives are no longer so attractive anymore. The labour market is changing because of this.
The pandemic has prompted many of us to ask ourselves what makes us truly happy and fulfilled. People also start to change their behaviour towards a more sustainable lifestyle when these changes make them feel good. And when sustainable and circular solutions become increasingly affordable and accessible, – not because someone is telling them to do so.
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