IN ORDER TO SEE THE WORLD, WE MUST BREAK WITH OUR FAMILIAR ACCEPTANCE OF IT

FINAL PART OF A THREE-PART SERIES

Magazine article

As humans, we are still evolving. We either evolve to realign with new values addressing the key elements underpinning SDGs, or the social contract will be withdrawn. An inflection point is approaching then, driven by necessity: What we measure no longer reflects what we value.

BUT HOW HAVE WE GOT HERE? AND WHY NOW IN THE HUMAN STORY?
Social emotional intelligence is one of the key advancements in recent human evolution, which helps us to empathise with — and so better understand — our societies, ourselves and our planet. The growing role of social emotional intelligence will now be critical to survival in any new economy or, looking further out, in a new or second renaissance, when it is likely that technological dogmas, such as connectivity, speed and optimisation, will be replaced with human relevance, purpose, engagement, relationships and self-realisation.

We see traces already. A challenge for the education system is educational relevance — the ability of the human spirit to adapt and thrive in a world of
change and uncertainty. The articles in this issue demonstrate how, through implementing SDGs, a new framework of value will emerge.

HAS COVID-19 ACCELERATED THIS?
Our physical, relational, mental and digital landscapes were already fundamentally complex patchworks. Our work in implementing SDGs is predicated upon a natural and human world that is not binary. COVID-19 certainly illuminated the internal contradictions in our social structures when trying to think in binaries, such as the economy versus healthcare. But everything is laid out by degrees of variation. We live and work in a world where the strength of the social fabric comes from its fluidity and diversity.

Thinking in a non-binary way, such as viewing life as fundamentally ambiguous, for example, does help to negotiate the complex field of experience
— which includes navigating and redistributing wealth, equality, food and justice. High income and growing pots of wealth where they exist have contributed to rising inequality, empowering populist leaders and diminishing trust, particularly in political institutions. Countries must surely strengthen tax— including developing tax reliefs, where appropriate — to meet SDGs and promote inclusive economies.

BUT WHAT ABOUT HEARTS AND MINDS?
Mistrust in governments, businesses and the media is significantly increasing. Our digital world has made it easier to propagate false information. Meaning: the growing irrelevance of facts and the loss of a shared reality. Disinformation: truth itself has become the target. A deeply worrying outcome for ourselves as humans and for the kind of just society we might wish to live in.

Investing more in intangible assets, such as human and social capital, will be crucial, especially for highly innovative firms and start-ups. Societies crave innovative approaches that will empower and engage, rather than exploit and alienate. This in turn will revitalise local, as well as global, partnerships for sustainable development. With a longer-term perspective and a deeper understanding of value, future innovations are so much more likely to be inclusive and accessible to all — so that all spheres of life are beneficiaries.

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