Markets are an essential aspect of our life. The de-regulation of markets in almost all economic fields provided a platform that moved markets, poorly regulated at best and un-regulated at worst, towards speculation and shortly thereafter into avarice.
We must re-orient our markets so that real values are reflected in decisions. Failure to correct the excesses of the past decade will decrease trust, increase social disharmony and lead to undesirable outcomes.
In addition, markets will need to play a new role in facilitating the funding and delivery of a great many services that will be required for a 2050 sustainable world including ecosystems services and carbon reduction.
The world has rapidly become a smaller place. We have also witnessed a massive rise in interconnected issues requiring management and common policies. Furthermore, each and every one of us has also become a global citizen.
The future of sustainability depends critically on how well we manage “issues without passports”. Three groups of global issues that now require our urgent attention:
The rise of “global commons” issues such as climate change and the loss of fisheries and ocean damage; a strong “global conscience” that has turned attention to world poverty, hunger and security; and a dramatic rise in establishing “clear global rules” that make each of our lives safer, more predictable and protected.
New considerations are required for financial and banking transactions, environmental goods and services, human trafficking and on many more issues.
The visible hand of the public interest
A prosperous and stable society requires a proper balance between the role of the market to stimulate innovation and the effective use of resources and the role of government as the custodian of the common interest. Governments should provide a clear and predictable framework of law, of supervision and of regulation within which the market could operate so as to achieve a balance between private rights and benefits and the prosperity of the community. There is an urgent need to have strong regulatory mechanisms, which safeguard common public interests.
Local communities and individual action
Individuals and local communities can and do make a difference. Individual commitment and behavior to a changed and better world is fundamental as it is at the individual and local community level that we will see real change. Innovation in information technologies, in energy systems and other domains has given rise to greater possibilities for local decision-making. Natural resources are often best managed by local communities. These aspects expand the range of decisions that can be made under the rule of subsidiarity and new governance systems will need to reflect this.