A conversation with Jordi Vaque
In the windy morning of Wednesday, 13th of May 2020, GG students have had the wonderful possibility to share ideas with a very special guest, Jordi Vaquer.
At the very beginning of the event, two students from the first and the second year have conferred the “Best Global Conversation award for the A.Y. 2018/2019” to Mr. Vaquer to show the interest and appreciation of GG students to his past Global conversation “The End of the Spanish Exception? Spain’s Politics in European Context”.
Mr. Vaquer graduated from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain, then he completed a PhD in international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Currently, he is the director for Global Foresight and Analysis at the Open Society Foundations.
COVID-19 is designing a new scenario for humanity, for this reason the Open Society Foundation is shaping a new picture for the world, working for a human response to the situation.
It is using a future thinking to prepare the world to the post COVID-19 society but the most important question is:
Can we foresee the future ?
Some futurists can think about future shocks, people can understand and recognize early signs of a future scenario. Researchers can anticipate threats and understand why people operate in one way instead of another.
What is future thinking ?
Some systems are put into practice, forecasting tools : epidemiology is one of the most popular, econometrics or demographers models; they can offer a clear sense of how things are going on.
People are trying to understand from the past diseases, parallel economic crisis. In every case, study from the past, how things happened is useful for the present and future.
Other tools that futurists use are linked with building scenarios, imagining several ones where we could find ourselves.
The focus of the conversation lies on this concept.
Mr. Vaquer exposed the three waves model: the first wave represents the pandemic, the second one is an index of economic crash for the lockdown and then the last one is for systemic convulsion. The “order” in which the waves can impact a country can change, a clear example is the island Saint Lucia: the second wave arrived previously because of the lack of tourists and then on the 23 of March, the island declared the state of emergency due to the virus.
This method of the three waves can be useful but it needs a context to work in, our guest has explored two different visions about the world in the “current COVID” and the “post COVID” situation; These two stages are affecting the long run prospects for countries.
“The pandemic experience is changing us, the way we perceive reality and also it will alter our future habits, in particular, it will affect the relationship with our families and friends ”
Mr. Vaquer has put the spotlight on the “post COVID” situation, in order to analyze with GG students different nuances of the future world for humanity; four scenarios sum up multiple characteristics.
- ”Back to normal”: the impact caused by pandemic will lead back to a relatively familiar way of living. The status quo “ante COVID” will be reestablished from a geopolitical point of view (such as, a decline of the West and rise of Asia). The previous global challenges, inequality and climate change, will be again an important part of news and actions.
- “Authoritarian winter”: a vision focused on the effectiveness of authoritarian governance, such as China, restrictions; exceptional measures taken by centralized governments have been judged more successful than Federal ones.
Strict surveillance becomes the new normal and the usage of pandemic as an instrument to apply more restrictions on democratic guarantees, is considered as a very powerful tool. Democracy is collapsing.
- “Democratic renewal”: this is a more positive view of the future.
Information is important for citizens and data sharing have been put under control; avoidance of fake news. Technology is a powerful tool in the hands of democracy, it can create a link between politics and society; moreover, people are more careful about their privacy.
In society and politics there is a new awareness for care and welfare of society and a relevant recognition is given to doctors and nurses. (also equality of gender is growing)
Inclusion, pluralism and solidarity are central themes in this new world after COVID-19.
- “Downward spiral”: global governance is compromised and social conflicts are growing and there is a rapid impoverishment of all economies.
A total breakdown of universality self-organization and international collaboration are not anymore present. Turbulence and chaos reign supreme. All these “possible visions” have in common different factors: democracy, information, economic, justice, climate; they are all linked by society.
People have jobs, they can work at home thanks to “smart working” method. Also children can study thanks to the use of technological devices and create a more solid relationship with their parents; work, study and play can be made at the same time and with all the family members all together.
According to Mr. Vaquer, this last tool, smart working, is a curious market trick but its negative side influence life of people who are not able to connect their job with web instruments.
Economy will be relaunched, assuming a different connotations: new trends, new consumption patterns, shopping online or production of food.
The added value given by the COVID is making the situation more difficult, compared to previous crisis, from an economical point of view, to 2007/2008 economic crisis. The virus has been caused by external factors and now the situation is changing very rapidly.
The rules of the game are changing every day in front of our eyes and society needs to be strong and flexible to every form the future will assume.