Rebuild21 is an organisation commited to rebuilding business, politics and media for the 21st century. Sofus Midtgaard kicked off their annual conference today by outlining the four main topics of this year’s conference and talked about how they all face an institutional crisis:
- Rebuilding finance
- Constructive media
- Rebuilding education
- Rethinking business
The event started off with the rebuilding finance theme and a number of prominent speakers gave their take on the financial crisis and what they think we should do.
1) Richard Kelly from IDEO in Shanghai talked about how the financial crisis should be seen as a crisis of values more generally. Financial services have been cut off from the real world and we may need to look at how to innovate in financial services again.
2) Jem Bendell talked about how finance has failed and how there are unused assets and unmet needs in the current system, offering the example of how many unemployed people claim benefits while many social services are being cut back due to austerity. We need to get people back to making and trading, Jem Bendell argues, as the current system of how we exchange things and time has broken down. You can see his presentation here
3) Umair Haque suggested that we are facing an institutional breakdown in our societies and economies. A key reason for this malfunction is oppulence: people have for too long wanted to have more, bigger, faster and cheaper commodities and our institutions have been geared to fulfil this desire. To address the issue we need to develop a new model of prosperity which Haque calls (Eudaimonia). This can be defined as a richer conception of prosperity where relationships matter and where a rich civic life is valued – we need to reimagine what wealth is. Part of this is also reconsidering whether GDP is an appropriate way to measure success in our economy.
All three presenters mentioned above seem to agree that the current financial system has been severed from the real world and will need to get back on course to service society rather than vice versa.
I hope to return to the remaining presentations in more detail soon but wanted to share these ideas straight away.
You can find a a copy of the full programme from Rebuild21 here.