500 years ago, it was widely believed that the world was literally the centre of the Universe. That is, until astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus’s daring theory that Earth and its sister planets revolved around the sun. Copernicus’ unwavering confidence in his own beliefs not only challenged the orthodoxy, they eventually liberated society.
I believe that we are at one of those similarly pivotal moments in history when being prepared to think and act differently – however heretical it may seem – will reap extraordinary rewards.
The World Economic Forum (WEF), held each year in Davos, Switzerland, proves itself indispensable at providing a symposium where socio-economic patterns are analyzed and future trends are predicted. Perhaps this year we can be brave enough to consider whether these traditional models of growth and prosperity – despite the good they have brought us – are dangerously outdated. Perhaps, like Nicolaus Copernicus, we can be brave enough to challenge the status quo.
At Philips, we believe that the current economic model is in need of a new direction. Our planet’s resources are finite yet our focus is on producing, consuming and then discarding, rather than protecting, improving and sustaining. It is a myopic strategy that puts enormous, perhaps irreparable, strain on our environment simply to satisfy our desires.
Alternatives do exist. A ‘circular economy’ is an economic system that encourages businesses to use technology to create products and systems in which materials are reused, recycled or remanufactured. So that, for example, water is recycled, harmful chemicals are restricted and, perhaps most radical of all, society is more geared towards sharing than owning.