Wayne Visser, of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and Antwerp Management School, has written a thoughtful and informative new book Thriving: The Breakthrough Movement to Regenerate Nature, Society, and the Economy. Wayne is reassuringly optimistic about the future of the planet due to a variety of technological and business practice changes that mean we are approaching “tipping points”, after which we will rapidly reduce the stress we are placing on the environment – all going well, of course, as nothing is guaranteed.
I was grateful to interview Wayne for the latest episode of my Economics Explored podcast. Wayne spoke about a convergence of positive developments, such as rapidly improving electric vehicles, cultured/lab-grown meat, blockchain and synthetic DNA to aid traceability of supply chains, green hydrogen, and Unilever committing to deforestation-free palm oil (by 2023, and whether it achieves that is still to be determined, I should note). You can listen to my conversation with Wayne using the embedded player below or via Google Podcasts or Apple Podcasts, among other podcast apps.
Here’s a short video clip of our conversation in which Wayne introduces the concept of Thriving:
These developments are of great interest to Queenslanders and other Australians, of course, given they could mean substantial structural change for our economy, which has a greater reliance than others on coal mining and livestock farming. I suspect my conversation with Wayne would be of great interest to many of my Indonesian friends, too, given the challenging transition Indonesia also faces in coming decades. Palm oil has been an important commodity for Indonesia – indeed, there’s an oil palm monument in the Bogor Botanic Gardens (see my photo below) – but its farming has had adverse environmental consequences.
Finally, I’ve obviously been watching the war in Ukraine and thinking about what it means for the Queensland economy. One of the most direct impacts has been via the crazily high coal prices we’ve seen recently, something which means additional dollars for the state budget and coal miners, which John McCarthy at In Queensland covered and quoted me on last week: Auditor General’s report warns public sector blowouts could force cuts to services. On the downside, apart from being a humanitarian catastrophe, the war in Ukraine could mean a surge in business input costs, consumer prices, and hence inflation globally.
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