- President, Barcelona Chamber of Commerce
- Vice-president, ASCAME
These are convulsive, uncertain and complex times, but they are also times of opportunity, of taking advantage of the current crisis to build a new future. The impact of Covid-19 and the Russian invasion of the Ukrainian territory have brought about doubts, problems and weaknesses, which means that the economic and business society must rise to the challenge.
During the worst times of Covid-19, the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce was well aware that the pandemic would cause the emergence of a new era, and that it was the moment to take a step forward and build a new society. A society that is based on the pillars of sustainability, welfare and economic, technological and social progress and that, above all, focuses on the quality of growth rather than the quantity. After all, a country cannot be valued nor governed from a purely quantitative point of view; the quality of growth, life and, ultimately, welfare, is key to the new society that we are to build together.
For this reason, the Barcelona Chamber has decided to reorganize its way of understanding economic behavior: instead of looking at it through the lens of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), we are prioritising what we call the Indicators of Progress and Well-being (IPB). We know that identifying how much we have grown is important, but so it is understanding how we have grown.
By using IPB as the main indicator, we want to focus on the variables that contribute to the quality of the economy, from training to environmental sustainability, through technological investment and the reduction of inequalities. In short, we are talking about a list of 12 key variables that are constantly updated and that provide us with a better grasp of the reality of our country. In this way, we can determine whether economic progress translates into benefits for the population.
Prosperity goes well beyond GDP. One lesson that we learned during the pandemic was the importance of having a strong and well-equipped health system, and politicians must understand that we can only change the health budget to increase it.
Moreover, our interests are dependent on energy production that is sovereign and fights against climate change. We have a lot of work to do, but now more than ever our bet must be on investing in renewable energy, as we cannot afford to be energy dependent. For example, in Catalonia, only a fifth of the electricity production in 2020 came from renewable sources. We can do better.
Welfare also means making the best of innovation, science and technological progress, which in turn requires investing in Research and Development (R+D). This is a pending duty in many Mediterranean countries. In Catalonia, since the 2008 crisis, both public and private investment in R+D has slightly decreased, distancing us from European procedures.
Finally, it is important to remember that our future is linked to education, as there is no prosperity without well-prepared and knowledgeable citizens. We must improve our expenditure per student and contribute to correcting the deficits in the level of training compared to the most advanced European economies. In short, we should bet on knowledge, an empowering tool and the basis of a fairer and more democratic society.
The potential of the Mediterranean economy is enormous, but we need to put our focus on the right issues, to generate welfare and commit ourselves to a new economic model based on knowledge, talent, resilience and social and environmental sustainability.09/28/2022