For several years now, I have been a member of the Reflection Group of LH Forum, the movement for a positive economy created by the great French economist Jacques Attali. The idea of positive economies goes beyond the concept of sustainable development. Contemporary society is “systematically unsustainable” and this is forcing us to find solutions for the three systemic problems which are arising with increasing frequency: how to repay an enormous debt, the equilibrium between the social classes in less-fortunate countries, and climate change.
This complex situation calls for conduct and technologies that are the opposite of those which have brought us to the present state of affairs. In other words, we must construct a new world based on altruism and the conservation of resources. Personally, I am still convinced that we are on the path to a new era, in which energy will come from the sun, directly or indirectly, and that this revolution can also solve the problems of insufficient economic growth and excessive demographic growth which generated the situation in the first place. How? The introduction of any feasible new technology to make renewable energies creates a “first adoption demand” much bigger than the subsequent “substitution demand” of the same good. This is how the boom in the initial phase of the renewable energy cycle will create many jobs and raise disposable income, even in poor countries. And because population tends to grow inversely with per capita GDP, demographic growth will slow as well.
Regarding altruism, stronger ethics are needed and the immense economic opportunities of this new world must be shared by all the interested parties. This principle has inspired me in my profession and put illycaffè at the center of an ongoing, decades-long partnership between coffee consumers and coffee producers.
My contribution to the Reflection Group is, first of all, my support of Jacques Attali and his vision of a positive economy, but also my firm intention to become a stakeholder for those 25 million families who live in the southern part of the world and through whose efforts we can enjoy that marvelous product, coffee. Thanks to coffee’s three virtues – pleasure, health and sustainability -, it can generate a virtuous cycle: between the well-being of consuming Countries and the socio-economic development of producing Countries, creating development opportunities for the rural communities of over 70 countries in the South part of the world for which coffee is the main source of sustenance.
Just recently, on September 3, 2015, Milan hosted the Positive Planet international conference. It was entitled “Which economy to feed the planet?” and I participated along with Jacques Attali and a number of well-known representatives of institutions and companies. Under the aegis of Expo Milano 2015, it is another step forward in defining the future role of the social responsibility of companies and international cooperation through inclusive business models.