In the future, we can base our economic growth only on viable factors which take into account the dangers of global climate change. Növekedés.hu has made an interview with Markku Wilenius, Professor of Turku University Business School and leader of the UNESCO’s ‘Learning Society and the Futures of Education’ programme. In his book ‘Patterns of the Future’, available in Hungarian thanks to Pallas Athene Publishing House, he argues that the effects of the global climate change are more or less perceptible for all, and joint action is necessary in order to reverse or at least stop this process.
Your book ‘Patterns of the Future’ has recently been published in Hungarian, in which you claim that a new wave of innovation is needed. What do you mean by that?
I indeed claim we need new innovation pulse because there is a new era of societal development in front of us. As previously, each of the era takes about two generations (40-60 years) to unfold and they have a key driver. While the previous era was signified with digitalization, bringing new communication platform and changing dramatically our lifestyles, this upcoming era has to do with how do we use our materials, energy and human capital with much more effective way, since we are currently squandering all those resources immensely.
So it will deal with resource efficiency. Most of our efforts in terms of innovation will one way or another contribute to increase resource productivity in the coming sixth wave of development.
Do you think sustainable economic growth might be in accordance with the fight against climate change?
In the future, we will accept no other economic growth except the one which is sound and viable in terms of its impact on our natural systems. The revolution has already begun, as we can already see in the capital markets, where some of the largest funds in the world, like Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund have withdrawn all investments related to coal and oil. Which is a bit ironic since they gain the capital for the fund with oil production.
Markku Wilenius, professor at Turku University (ts.fi)
Does climate change really change people’s thinking and social structures?
Climate change serves as a symbol to mark the end of our ways to extract natural resources without any reflection of the impact outside our own ends. We shall all think very differently after the next 30 years. This is because the impact of climate change has really become very painful for our societies and we also understand we need really to change our lifestyles to accommodate planetary needs. When that is done, we reach to new level of quality of life, unimaginable from the perspective of our present conditions.
Do you think that the mentality of Scandinavian countries may serve as a benchmark for the CEE region?
Scandinavian countries offers a good benchmark indeed. They are not perfect but they have formed an excellent model to run societies, based on equality our social life, partnerships in our economic life, and freedom in our cultural life.
Nordic model has proved to be the best on the global scale. So in that sense there is a lot to learn from those countries while I urge to find an even better model, which is still to appear.
More and more people see the future in a bad light. What can we do?
True, there is a lot of anxiety and fear around these days. This is mainly because our leaders lack the courage to take the necessary steps towards future. We as individuals need to show courage in our life, by carefully choosing the ways we live and things we believe in. Essentially, the future is for those who set their spirit free and are able to act upon it. I believe strongly that we are able to shift ourselves to the next level of development and take care of the problems we have caused. This will take a good while but eventually we shall make it.