The Economy of Francesco

young people, a pact, the future

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young people, a pact, the future

international events

September 22-24 2022, - Assisi

September 22-24 2022, Assisi

"The Economy of Francesco"

young people, a pact, the future

Breaking news:

published today the letter with which Pope Francis summons young economists and entrepreneurs to Assisi to propose a pact for a new economy. Economy of Communion participates in the organizing committee of the event together with the Diocese and the Municipality of Assisi and the Seraphic Institute.

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#EoF - The Economy of Francesco and Co2: this is how I will give meaning to my life

#EoF: the stories - The story of Valentina Rotondi, researcher at Oxford and SUPSI, one of the coordinators of The Economy of Francesco

by Valentina Rotondi

source: Famiglia Cristiana

Let me introduce myself. I am a researcher, trained as an economist but with a strong interdisciplinary spirit. In research, as in life, I like to listen and leave more room for questions than for answers. I currently work part-time at SUPSI in Lugano (University of Applied Sciences of Southern Switzerland) and at the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science at Oxford University. I am married to Leonardo and the mother of Giovanni and Caterina. I am 34 years old. Like many young people, I have often wondered what the area would be in which I could realise my calling in life. My scout training has always guided me in this: a life without service is a life lived half-heartedly. This point has been clear to me since I was a little girl. The only question that often kept me awake at night during my teenage years was: how? Today I feel I can say that my work as a researcher is an integral part of my vocation. To work for a more inclusive economy and society, one that leaves no one behind, one that is attentive to the local dimension and does not forget the world and especially the poorest. This is also a vocation received by grace and not by merit. I had the good fortune to coordinate, together with Luca Crivelli, Carlo Giardinetti and many others, the CO2 village of inequalities for the Economy of Francesco.

When I saw the Economy of Francesco website for the first time and read the letter that the Pope had addressed to us young economists, entrepreneurs and change makers, the spark in my heart suddenly lit up. It’s been a long time that I had been waiting for this moment, for this event. Francis' call was truly an inspiration. The Pope was asking us to put ourselves to service, to offer our competences. Finally, the two spirits, the two paths that had run parallel in my life up to that moment, came together: I had the opportunity to offer my competences, my research, my questions and even those few answers of mine for something that was really worthwhile. I immediately submitted the application. I remember writing that very spontaneous letter of mine in a cold Oxford park. Then I called my husband and said: “the Pope wants to meet young economists”. His response was so radical that I knew the time was right: "when are you going?". After a few weeks, I received an invitation from the central committee: they asked me to help during the process of "creating the Economy of Francesco". I realised at that instant that what I thought was an event was actually much more: it was a process at the time of which nothing had already been written, in which rather than adding content it was necessary to remove it, to go to the bottom of things to let nothing be taken for granted.

The Pope really wanted to listen to young people and they were at the heart of everything. For months we thought about how to make this happen. It was not easy, not least because of the unexpected global pandemic che tutti Valentina RotondiEoFconosciamo, that we all know about, but it was extremely enriching. The Economy of Francesco is not and will never be a conference. The EoF has been and will be a process that has allowed us to weave relationships, to imagine new paradigms, to put at the centre of our experience as young professionals the lives of millions of people around the world who still live on the margins of a society that has too often forgotten about them. Their faces, their stories, their future are the reason why the Economy of Francesco will never be something taken for granted.  The ‘village’ - or rather the commission to explore one of the issues - that originally welcomed me, was to be hosted by the Serafico Institute in Assisi: a village about inequalities in a place where inequalities are so strong that they bring tears (of pain but also of hope) to your eyes. Its title, ‘CO2 of inequalities’ is an apt expression of the underlying tension of the topic. It makes no sense to think of nature without carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is part of life, a natural ingredient of photosynthesis, a by-product of our own respiration and combustion. Carbon dioxide is therefore not a bad thing in itself, as long as the ecosystem is able to manage it and keep it in ‘balance’.

However, when carbon dioxide exceeds a certain threshold, when it becomes waste, it becomes unsustainable and represents a real threat to the planet. This metaphor has been at the heart of our thinking in recent months. Diversity is a very important resource, not only in nature but also in society. Many differences not only do not have to be avoided, but can even be considered an asset and a stimulus for development with a human face by encouraging the phenomenon known as ‘social mobility’. However, if inequalities exceed a certain threshold, social mobility becomes a chimera, a pipe dream, and the functioning of the social and economic system (as Piketty has argued) enters into a deep crisis. It is therefore first of all important to distinguish between differences and inequalities, to recognise that we leave the universe of differences and fall into the hell of inequalities when the multiple material, relational, symbolic and biological disparities that constitute the greatest wealth that humanity has, become the object of social evaluation. If this is true, then we must also learn to resize our scales of values and our principles (including linguistic ones). Let us try for a moment to think about our own lives: what weight has our commitment and perseverance played in determining what we are today, and what weight has luck and structural conditions played in determining what we are today? What merit do we have in being born in a specific place in the world, at a specific time and into a specific family? Robert Frank has recently shown that luck plays a far greater role than economists tend to think. This first step is important, but it is still not enough. We must also learn to recognise the different forms of inequality, which are so interconnected and interdependent that it is very difficult to determine which is the cause and which is the effect.

Not only inequalities of income, but also inequalities in capital goods such as health, genetic heritage, human capital, access to new technologies and environmental resources, and opportunities linked to gender and ethnicity are important in our lives. Lastly, we need to think of an economy and a society that, as Kate Raworth argues, is regenerative and inclusive by design (and not ex-post) and that does not produce even a single victim or waste, one that does not forget anyone. A first starting point for doing this is to realise that if we were to consider, for example, certain aspects linked not only to income but also to the consumption of the environment and human flourishing (e.g. relationships and gratuitousness), all the countries of the world would become ‘developing countries’: there would no longer be any distinction between ‘developed’ countries and countries that are lagging behind. We would all suddenly be catapulted into a reality in which we all have to start from the beginning, back to the beginning, like in the game of Monopoly. This means rethinking our lives, starting with our daily choices and, more broadly, understanding that, as the Nobel prize-winner Amartya Sen has repeatedly emphasised, what really matters and for which it is right to invest even disproportionate amounts of resources, making room for technological, scientific and social innovation, is to ensure that each person is able to carry out his or her functions effectively and is free to pursue their own life plans with dignity, while respecting differences and avoiding, always and as far as possible, all forms of inequality.

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