[226] Hope after Corona –  Act local, Think Global

I ended last chapter with the importance to revalue local economy, to cut off our geopolitical and economic dependency, that make us becoming a prey of international events. Here are five other reasons why acting local will make us more resilient globally.

  1. Jobs, jobs, jobs

It all starts with jobs. Over the past decades, companies have exported and outsourced a lot of their services and factories to countries where lower wages are paid, so they can lower the prices, and make more profit and sell more items.

This profit-driven dynamic has a double perverse effect: at the side of leaving, they left local unemployment, while at the side of arriving, troubles with human rights, and environmental issues arrived as well.

If we organise production and consumption more locally, we could address both problems: improve the situation for workers in both countries.

Local production could become more expensive, but it will create local jobs; as such people are paying more, but they are paying each other’s salaries. Moreover, here is a task for governments to reduce unfair competition between the products of different countries. World Trade Agreements prohibit countries to give their own produce an ‘unfair’ competition. They force countries to let their own markets be submerged by the cheaper produce of other countries, even though this means that in those countries human rights and environmental issues are not respected, in order to cut costs.

Covid-19 should blow the horn.

And make countries review this kind of World Trade Agreements. Not only are they not sustainable for the economy, nor are they for the people (in both countries), or the planet.

  1. Fair Trade

Bringing production home again can increase the fairness of trade. The before-mentioned mechanism is obviously not fair at all. It is not fair for locals losing jobs, it is not fair for the new employees facing unfair and even inhuman working circumstances.

Nobody must be the slave of consumerism.

Another perverse effect of global trade is the fact that some products become unaffordable for local people due to the increased foreign demand. This happened with quinoa in the Andes, and with various other so-called superfoods, that belong to the basic food of certain people, but of which international demand made prices surge, not only taking away their food physically, but as well making it economic unaffordable.

Moreover, other foods have caused ecologic unsustainable situations, such as the water consumption for avocado production, which endangers local communities, and the use of pesticides and fertilizers to pump up the productivity of crops, but leaves their fields depleted and polluted once the crops are gone.

Pollution and depletion of resources are not exclusive to agriculture, these two consequences of unfair global mass trade are seen in all sectors, from plastic production and recycling, to mining of rare materials and production of electronics and chemicals.

Big companies strike down, take resources, human time, energy, and dignity, and leave pollution behind.

Yes, they often have a so-called development program in place, constructing schools and roads, but often these are mere bandages on the wound they created.

Local production and consumption can address these problems, in addition to paying a fair price and organising a fair trade and production system for international trade.

  1. Strengthened Chain

Moreover, the less actors involved, the more obvious the impact of every actor. As such, local trade can guarantee fair and resilient trade by increasing accountability and transparency. If the entire chain is easily traceable, it is more convenient to find the weak link, the corrupt link, the power-abusing link, the polluting link, and the human-right harming or ecologic harming link.

The strength of a chain depends on its weakest link.

Hence, the shorter the chain, the more obvious which link needs to be fixed, and how the chain can be strengthened overall.

Moreover, if a chain is more connected with its surrounding people, it will become a shared responsibility, a shared accountability, and a shared caring. Nobody wants its own rivers to be polluted, its own acres to be depleted, its own rights not to be respected. The closer the distance to these processes, and the closer the distance to the responsible ones, the higher the chance to effectively stand up, or make one stood down.

  1. Resilience, Flexible

A short chain has another advantage, which becomes more crucial in times of crisis. The shorter the chain, the more adaptable. If all actors of the chain are visible and defined, it is easier to understand their strengths and weaknesses; which part of the chain should be adapted to adapt the entire chain.

Like a small boat is easier to turn around than a huge tanker.

There might be less economic means involved, but there are more creative, innovative and social means, which we need in times of crisis. It can be a pandemic like Covid that breaks the chain, or any other disaster. As the bush fires and droughts in Australia have shown, as well as hurricanes and other natural disasters, that have cut of long supply chains, from electricity to food.

In times of natural disasters, a local distributed energy grid – preferably on renewable energy – can provide a town with energy when cut off from the main grid. In times of political or social disaster it can prevent a town to be cut off from the main grid by political powers. In times of Corona, and in general of crisis, we experience how local production does not only feed the consumers, but as well the producers.

  1. Planet

Last but not least, local production and consumption is crucial to fight climate change.

The less transportation, the less emissions, hence the less air pollution and the less contribution to climate change.

Moreover, too much of our global trade system causes unnecessary kilometres travelled by goods. For instance, an Australian town exports prawns to China to have them processed and eaten overseas while the same town imports Chinese prawns for Australian consumption. All over the world various countries export their raw materials to have them processed overseas and import them after processing as consumption products.

It is all to score economic and political points, but it leaves a social and ecological disaster.

Our global trade system is not only unsustainable for the economy in times of crisis, as for the people in terms of job losses and human rights, but it is as well unsustainable for the planet. Not only by causing pollution and depletion of resources as before-mentioned, but as well by unnecessary miles travelled overseas, land, and water, where they leave a trace of pollution behind as well as a trace of emissions. In addition, this increased complicated supply chain often brings alone an increased complicated packaging system, causing unnecessary waste to protect goods while travelling, which shouldn’t have been wrapped at all if produced and consumed locally. All these side-effects of global trade destroy our planet, and hence our future.

How to fix it?

There is an important role for governments to review the world trade agreements they have made, in terms of planet, profit, and people. For instance, in the apple-producing country Belgium, it is often cheaper to buy Chilean apples than Belgium apples, while the Belgian farmers are suffering economic hardship. If only trade agreements would be fair, reflecting a fair price for products that include costs of transport, emissions, packaging, human rights and ecologic disasters where produced, it would become obvious for all of us how local production and consumption are key to a sustainable and resilient world.

And the role of the consumer? Be aware of what you buy, support local produced goods, because that’s how you support the people around you, the people elsewhere in the world, the local and global economy, and the planet. Dare to demand, to stand up for your rights and the rights of others, by holding the producers responsible.

What you buy is your vote, so demand justice and resilience by buying right.

 

This article is part of the series of Hope in Times of Corona. Read

  1. How this too shall pass
  2. how this times of self-isolation should not mean loneliness,
  3. how you can contribute to this battle, 
  4. how gratitude lights up the dark,  
  5. how united we will stand strong
  6. on the most util strategy in awake of a crisis 
  7. how I got blown of my feet as well, but caught by many caring hands, 
  8. how being calm can get us through the storm.
  9. about Love in Times of Corona
  10. how to discover your own talents 
  11. why we need stories to hold on to 
  12. how you can be creative and innovative.
  13. how to spend your mot valuable assets in times of Corona.
  14. how to listen to the sound of silence. 
  15. How breath taking Corona really is.
  16. discover the other freedoms Corona has shown us, 
  17. about the new-born freedom Corona gave us.
  18. about another way to exceed your personal bubble.
  19. about the position of nature in this entire story
  20. about nature bouncing back
  21. about the crucial choice between resilience and resistance
  22. about the game to play
  23. about star gazing in dark times
  24. About looking for Meaning
  25. About how Music Connects
  26. about what Easter and Corona have in Common
  27. About the Shark and the Turtle
  28. About the Irony of Distance
  29. Why to Hold on
  30. Fake News
  31. about The Big Unknown we live at
  32. about Feeling Alive
  33. About turning obstacles into opportunities
  34. about what the Birthday of my nephew learned me about life 
  35. About where we should go from here?
  36. About coping with incertitude
  37. About the Great War and the Great Pandemic, and we should not forget
  38. about history’s most important message, echoed by corona
  39. How one country could rule them all
  40. About how to prevent the next Green Pandemic 
  41. about how we are experiencing a new episode of our history books
  42. about when the poppy flowers
  43. about what’s in a number
  44. masks off, how a friend in need is a friend indeed
  45. What’s Next. after we flattened the curve?
  46. how will our personal story look like in a post-corona world?
  47. why we should never let a good crisis go too waste.
  48. How Spring can happen in Autumn
  49. How to unlock the lockdown
  50. Why education matters
  51. How we can give meaning to the meaningless deaths. (rethink health care)
  52. The remarkable marketability of health, or not?
  53. the remarkable rewards of health
  54. The queeste for global health care 
  55. Health Heroes
  56. Pains and Gains 
  57. Solidarity 3.0
  58. Work-Life Balance
  59. Home sweet home
  60. Real Connections
  61. Leadership 3.0
  62. gratitude 3.0
  63. Respect 3.0
  64. Humanity 3.0
  65. Change Management
  66. Economic Catharsis
  67. To consume or not to consume?
  68. Travel the world, travel your heart
  69. Barrels of Life
  70. People, no Number Management
  71. Back to the Office?
  72. Those jobs …
  73. Economic Growth or Green Growth
  74. Global trade, global fate

Or wait until tomorrow, when I’ll shine another light on yet another positive corner of this dark time.

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