Capitalism and individualism, with the stress on the market economy, will not be able to deal with the new world of climate change, environmental degradation, and rising power polarities that have no respect for freedom and democracy.
Now a key takeaway from the Covid-19 pandemic was the limits of the pure capitalism model to come to grips with the crisis at the start of the pandemic. Countries where governments intervened aggressively fared better.
Early into the crisis, the private enterprise model in the west driven by populist leaders in the United States and United Kingdom, with Brazil standing out in Latin America, was in partial denial that lockdown and the adorning of face masks was the one way to stop the spread of the virus until the discovery and distribution of a vaccine. The preceding assertions are based on the initial US and UK responses to the pandemic in March and April 2020.
In fact, from the very beginning of the crisis, the laissez faire capitalist model in both the US and UK was riven with leaders in denial of the true potency of the pandemic as evidenced through their disastrous responses.
The great paradox, and a plus for capitalism, is that it is the capitalist model that generated a vaccine that will end the Covid crisis. Innovation and investment in research and development remain potent components of free markets.
“Big government” — the John Maynard Keynes Social Economy — was the key to controlling the spread of the Covid-19 virus globally through aggressive government intervention. And big government will be the key to ensuring an equitable end to the pandemic through a safe and fair distribution of the vaccine when that vaccine is formally approved and distributed.
Big government is anathema to free marketers in spite the fact that it is big government that saves the day when the capitalist model fails, like in times of economic crisis, social disruption, pandemic, natural disaster and war.
Now, from the start of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, sustainable-type investment has outperformed the wider market in terms of stock and commodity prices. There is a new realisation that environmental sustainability is good economics in a world headed for the precipice environmentally.
The growth of investment in businesses with good social and eco-sustainable management — so-called “Environmental and Social Governance” — is a clear indicator where global business is headed.
Good environmental governance is synonymous with good quality of life, and that means businesses must adopt ecological sustainability as core to their cultures. But that will only happen with government management and intervention in the economy.
In the VI
For tourism-oriented economies such as the Virgin Islands, sustainability is the key to maintaining a pristine environment, which is a core driver of eco-friendly travel: the future of global travel. Today’s intelligent traveller wants to be part of a sustainable travel economy that will enable their children and grandchildren to enjoy the delights of travel to safe and pristine destinations.
Businesses aiming to attract investment are increasingly incorporating sustainability into their strategies. Businesses have begun to take action to protect and restore the natural resources on which they depend.
For example, 530 companies worldwide have committed to taking action to reverse ecological losses. Another 1,200 companies are taking steps conserving forests and adopting sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices.
Cosmetics giant Natura has pledged to work towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions and zero deforestation of the Amazon. Danone is a European multinational food products corporation that has placed social and environmental matrices at the core of its strategy.
Water Treatment Firm Suez uses the natural environment’s water treatment capabilities to restore biodiversity and improve the quality of discharged water.
Meanwhile, the Science Based Targets Network has secured commitments from over 1,000 companies to set scientifically grounded emissions reduction targets. SBTN aims to protect and restore the global commons: land, freshwater, oceans, biodiversity and climate.
SBTN encourages businesses to set priorities on sustaining high value ecosystems: areas where people rely most heavily on nature for their lives and livelihoods. This sustainability must drive supply chain activities in areas that impact the environment the most.
SBTN insists that businesses be guided by a hierarchy of objectives, such as avoiding having a negative impact on nature; reducing unavoidable impacts; and regenerating and restoring critical ecosystems.
In the Caribbean
The VI and Caribbean too must see their islands, geographies and seas as the most valuable part of their societies and economies. Governments must invest in the clean energy and sustainable technology that drive environmental sustainability as core to the social welfare of Caribbean inhabitants.
A monetary value must be given to such intangibles as the availability of rainwater for daily life; the quality and quantity of land available for arable farming; the state of the coast and coastal waters; antipollution measures; the quality of public health care; the quality of education; and the fight against poverty.
The preceding factors are central to social prosperity, not simply the ability to generate dollars and cents from gross domestic product.
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