Hoping for a net-zero impact system and other 2030 predictions
As we wrap up 2022, we’ll read our fair share of forecasts and predictions for 2023 and beyond.
As a foresight practitioner, I am asked to make my own forecasts, giving my perspective on the future of banking and payments. The only problem is that my crystal ball is as cloudy as the next person’s, and making successful predictions is as much luck as anything else.
However, some trends are in play that, combined with our collective choices and actions, will produce a future state – good for some, not so much for others. I will also distinguish between complex and complicated problems.
Complex problems, such as global warming, span space and time to such an extent that humanity cannot solve them; they can only be managed. It is unknown how long it will take humans to fully define global warming, let alone define a solution to “solve” it.
Complicated issues, on the other hand, like “How must my institution evolve in the face of fintech?” can be solved using existing methods and approaches. They may not be easy, but they can be solved.
As we solve complex problems in financial services between now and 2030, I can only think of one thing that I see with certainty for the rest of the decade: the never-ending process of creation, this ongoing process of seasonality, birth and death, creation and destruction. In science it is also known as the natural process, nature and regeneration. It is the notion that all life, all universal mass and matter are connected.
A significant trend that will affect our work between now and 2030 is that people will increasingly realize that humanity is not separate from nature; we are just a part of it. This realization has significant implications for society and, in turn, financial services.
The choices we make today have long-term consequences for the state of nature in which we all want to exist. Making effective choices will require renewed thinking – seventh generation thinking, the notion that the seven generations that came before us form the foundation for what we have today and how the decisions we make today will lay the foundation for life seven generations into the future.
How can humanity manage this complex problem? The answer may lie in addressing one complicated problem.
The purpose of the international trade-based economy can be changed from growth for growth’s sake to a “net zero impact” system. This transformation will go beyond carbon emissions to measure impact areas that have not yet been developed.
Consider, for example, the work we do in finance. If we as an industry are very successful in increasing financial inclusion, virtually eliminating poverty and helping individuals build wealth, what is the ultimate goal of what we are doing today? Is it to breed more consumers? Is the historic consumption model of the industrialized Northern Hemisphere the beacon to which all newly created middle-class citizens worldwide should aspire? It shouldn’t be. Today’s economy is not sustainable. This “net zero impact” transformation can manifest itself in three ways.