Policymakers need to get serious about pressing social challenges, says Swedish politician

In this week’s Net Hero Podcast, we spoke to chairman of Climate-KIC, Anders Wijkman who told us that developed countries must help the global South to develop climate technology

Technology alone cannot solve the climate crisis.

This is what Anders Wijkman, author and opinion maker said in this week’s Net Hero Podcast.

He said: ‘Of course technology is important but innovation covers so many other aspects and governance is one of them.

‘There are a number of social challenges, whether we talk about climate change, ecosystem decline, inequalities, declining trust in society. There are many challenges where we need innovation to address [these issues] and where policymaking has a very important role to stimulate the right kind of innovation.

‘Unless policymakers and governments take an active role, we are not likely to get the kind of solutions that we need.’

Anders believes that current business practices need to change to improve social issues.

‘In the European Union, they identified five social challenges where research, money and innovation has to be focused – clean and healthy cities, climate adaptation, cancer, the health of our soils and fresh water and oceans.

‘And I think all these areas, with current business practises, we run the risk of really aggravating all the problems.

‘So we really need solutions here and it will not happen by the market itself. The market is good at many things but it’s not good at solving long term problems.’

He added: ‘When you talk about it to an economist, he will you that if there are some negative impacts on the environment, that’s an external effect.

‘Externalities, it’s what they talk about because it’s not within their model, so they don’t have a solution for it. Now it just happens that these externalities are the major challenges for us.’

Mr Wijkman said that to fully solve for the climate crisis, the West has to work with developing countries.

He said: ‘The main problem that we really haven’t grappled with is the gap between the North and the South and that there are still 4 billion very poor people in this world. And I think it’s really a question of justice and equity.

‘We established a number of international institutions, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, etc. But we benefit much more from the rules of these institutions.

‘Unless we are ready to redistribute some of the wealth, I don’t think this equation is possible. And we should allocate a lot of money to invest in green technology because it’s in our own interest.

‘I mean, Africa has fantastic opportunities for solar energy and wind along the coasts. [But] only 2% of all the money that has been invested in solar and wind since 2000 has been invested in Africa. [And] investments don’t happen unless rich countries back them up.’

Anders stressed that unless we take a more holistic approach in dealing with social issues, we cannot solve for the climate crisis.

‘I think if we only focus on climate and greenhouse gas emissions, we won’t make it.

‘We have to take a more systemic view. And what’s happening to soils, forests, freshwater bodies, oceans is as important.

‘That’s why I think the sustainable Development Goals agenda makes a lot of sense, because it deals with all the issues.’

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