How fair is our share of the world?

How do we share the world? This is the question Max Galka asks on Metrocosm, in an extremely interesting interactive map of the globe, that reshapes according to the lens we choose to use. Cartograms are a helpful tool to visualise immediately the social impact of economic variables. In particular on Metrocosm, there are six socioeconomic variables: GDP, debt, population, births, wealth, billionaires. The data shown are interesting.

Apart from the population boom in East Asia, in particular China and India, there is a remarkable concentration of rich and super-rich people in Europe (especially in UK and Germany, compared to population) and in the US, showing a more pronounced divide between developed and developing nations.

Thus, our world is shared badly. Resources are badly allocated, distributed and used. Almost the entire wealth is concentrated in few, capacious hands, and growth is disorganised and badly supported where dominant. According to Capgemini, approximately 67% of global wealth is owned by 4 big economies (US, Japan, Germany and China), while the rest of the world is left the other 33%.

Food and natural resources are another crucial factor to make standards of growth sustainable. Given current rates, according to Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, by 2030 we would require two planets to supply the resources we need and to absorb our waste. According to FAO, 40 percent of food in the US is wasted. This food is not wasted during the supply chain, but at consumers’ level. Globally, food wastage is estimated at 1.6 billion tonnes and the edible part of this amounts to 1.3 billion tonnes. The total volume of water used to make wasted food is comparable to three times the Geneva lake. 28 percent of the world’s agricultural area – is used annually to produce food that is lost or wasted.

The idea of sustainable growth is related to that of managing resources cost-effectively, changing business models unsustainable in the long-run.

Sustainability is then an imperative of our times, a serious commitment targeted at preserving life conditions for future generations. School and university have the duty of helping to realise laboratories of sustainable lifestyles, teaching how to reuse what is recyclable and to share what is in one’s personal toolkit (spaces, books, knowledge…).

Every long path starts off with a little step, and everyone can make a difference, and making a difference means looking beyond what is self-evident. Are we ready to do it?

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