Brindusa Fidanza cached version 14/02/2019 10:23:51 en Join politics to change politics - thoughts on the upcoming Romanian election <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the run-up to the next presidential elections in a country where politics has, for so long, been riddled with nepotism, corruption and a lack of sense of civic duty - you have to ask, is anything going to change?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>It’s just a few days until the next presidential elections in Romania and I can’t help but wonder: how could positive change happen in a country where politics has, for so long, been riddled with nepotism, corruption and more generally by a lack of sense of civic duty?</p> <p>Last year, a European Union survey on corruption showed 93% of Romanians thought corruption was widespread in their country, with about 1 in 4 people likely to have been expected or asked to pay a bribe.</p> <p>Corruption, red tape bureaucracy and a lack of professional ethics in the political system create inefficiencies and hinder progress where otherwise human, economic and eco-friendly growth opportunities are massively available. So how is it that 25 years after the fall of the communist regime, the political class is largely as inefficient and as corrupt? Whose responsibility is it to clean up politics and make things better?</p> <p>Admittedly, a strong and healthy civil society helps balance the political class. NGOs and civil society leaders help monitor the actions of politicians, expose their breach of duty and uphold them to a sense of public good moral obligation. The popular movements against the mining project of Rosia Montana, for example, made waves well beyond Romanian borders.</p> <p>Business and entrepreneurs play a critical role as well. They innovate and re-invent the future, they make best use of available resources and come up with new ones, they create prosperity and jobs, and in the process contribute tax revenue to the public purse. Groups such as the Romanian Business Leaders Foundation, for example, are working to engage entrepreneurs in the society and have them apply their entrepreneurial ability to solving societal problems.</p> <p>But none of those efforts are enough. Seen from the outside, behind political doors the current Romanian political class resembles a tightly knit, old-age, inefficient, incoherent block whose inertia trickles down into the economy. The business of politics became politics, to paraphrase a quote by Friedman. And that is wrong. The business of politics should be the public good. The public sector has a key normative role and should deploy good, competent capacity towards enabling each individual and each individual entity in the economy to realize their best potential.</p> <p>We know it well: real, sustainable change comes from within. And so change will only come from within the political class itself. A new generation of presidential candidates this year are breaking with the norm and promise to shake the establishment, breathe some hope and break away from old politics. They have the potential to bring professionalism, ethics and a stark discipline of public good accountability back into the political system. The votes will tell if Romania is ready to break with the past.</p> <p>Changing political course, for the better, from within, is the best thing that can happen to Romania this year.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/claudia-ciobanu/another-rosia-montana-despite-public-outrage">Another Rosia Montana, despite public outrage</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Romania </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Romania Brindusa Fidanza Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:13:05 +0000 Brindusa Fidanza 87337 at Not enough demand for green growth? Ask for it. <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>If&nbsp;change is&nbsp;slow&nbsp;to come from international agreements or business boardrooms,&nbsp;it could&nbsp;come from&nbsp;interconnected&nbsp;people who measure their success based on the sustainable impact their money and actions have. Aggregate environmental and social impact is the key.<strong></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// farmer.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// farmer.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="267" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Greek scheme to deliver produce direct to locals. Demotix / Alexandros Michailidis</span></span></span></p><p>The release of the&nbsp;global scientific&nbsp;climate change assessment&nbsp;in Tokyo last week&nbsp;has once more brought environmental gloom and doom to front pages worldwide. There is no more doubt we are facing climate change and the world will need to make a substantial effort to mitigate change, adapt and start managing future&nbsp;risks appropriately.&nbsp;And yet&nbsp;governments are&nbsp;still not dealing with the problem. Just weeks before the report,&nbsp;at the United Nations climate change meetings&nbsp;in Bonn, governments have once again failed to progress negotiations on a global agreement to curb emissions.</p> <p>As&nbsp;with&nbsp;governments,&nbsp;vision seems also slow to come from big business. A survey made last year by Global Compact in collaboration with Accenture&nbsp;revealed that only roughly a third of CEOs believed the global economy was prepared to cope with growth requirements under environmental constraints. 82% thought that consumers purchasing decisions would be essential to accelerating progress on sustainability. And yet at the same time 46% of CEOs believed consumers would always rank sustainability issues behind price, quality and availability.</p> <p>So if decision-making is slow in established international negotiations and&nbsp;in&nbsp;boardrooms, could a stronger demand for green growth and&nbsp;sustainability&nbsp;come from small enterprises who make up 95 percent of businesses globally - from the ground up? </p> <p>Consider these five facts:</p> <p>First, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) account for 95% of registered businesses in the world, they are drivers of economic growth and employment creation in all economies, whether high-, middle-, or low-income levels. Innovation and green entrepreneurship on the small-scale is a reality: small&nbsp;renewable energy enterprises, eco-tourism operators and service providers, waste management facilities,&nbsp;climate smart agriculture farmers,&nbsp;and other&nbsp;similar&nbsp;companies already&nbsp;have&nbsp;some commercial and growth potential. Their success can be spread fast, especially thanks to information and technology development. In&nbsp;the&nbsp;US,&nbsp;industry analysts are suggesting that small distributed solar farms will grow further because they are supported by "the proliferation of physical assets, installed capacity and new finance mechanisms”&nbsp;which are putting pressure&nbsp;on&nbsp;the established business models of large utilities.</p> <p>Second, smarter money is increasingly looking to invest in projects&nbsp;that&nbsp;will ‘have an impact’. Investors (established&nbsp;such as JP Morgan or Credit Suisse, niche, institutional, high net-worth individuals such as Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg) are designing impact investment strategies and looking for pipelines of deals with an environmental and social impact. Some analysts expect that&nbsp;impact investing will be greater than US$500 billion and even up to US$ 1trillion by 2020. This is also supported by finance facilities established by governments.</p> <p>Third, about 40% of the world population is connected to the internet and that percentage is growing fast. This opens up new opportunities for smaller, local entrepreneurs who are looking&nbsp;to&nbsp;the internet to develop solutions to local problems. More than 80% of SME owners in Africa expect that the&nbsp;internet will help them grow their business, and 70% of those expect that this will result&nbsp;in&nbsp;new hires. Internet-based solutions focused on service delivery are on the rise.</p> <p>Fourth, big data and social media are changing the way we interact with global issues and can influence how we allocate resources in a smart way. For example, movements like <a href="">GetUp</a>, a web-based organization in Australia, mobilizes more people than all political parties in the country combined. In other examples, big (and better) data has helped philanthropists like the Knight Foundation to better target their funding for civic innovation, open government and resident-engagement. There is no doubt that social web engagement is changing the way we do business.</p> <p>Last though not least, there is growing support for environmental action. Last December, half of all Europeans reported that they had taken some form of action to tackle climate change and four in five (80%) agreed that fighting climate change and using energy more efficiently could boost the economy and jobs in the EU. In the United States, 83% of people said that the US should take action on climate change even if it came at a cost to the economy. </p> <p>Moreover, a new generation of young professionals is shaping up. Millennials grew up in an interconnected world and were shaped up by global events, including wars, environmental damage and the economic crisis. &nbsp;By 2020, they will make up three quarters of the global workforce and the overwhelming majority of them want a meaningful job that is globally minded. This means that the number of people&nbsp;who&nbsp;rank sustainability&nbsp;ahead&nbsp;of price, quality and&nbsp;availability&nbsp;in their purchasing decisions&nbsp;will grow.</p> <p>With these points in mind,&nbsp;and if&nbsp;change is&nbsp;slow&nbsp;to come from international agreements or business boardrooms,&nbsp;then&nbsp;change&nbsp;could&nbsp;come from&nbsp;interconnected&nbsp;people who begin to measure their success based on the sustainable impact their money and actions have. Change will come when sustainabilitybecomes&nbsp;as strong a value as democracy&nbsp;became.&nbsp;While individually small, on aggregate, local individual actions, decentralized technologies, small-scale projects and alike empower individuals, grow entrepreneurship skills, incentivize collaboration and catalyse a development that suits local needs.</p> <p>Successful business and financing models for the small scale can grow, replicate and connect to others, with a clear measure of their aggregate environmental and social impact. Together, small-scale action could become an important influence by creating the demand for transformation towards a sustainable green economy and healthier, more prosperous living conditions for current and future generations.</p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Internet </div> </div> </div> openEconomy openEconomy Civil society Culture Democracy and government Economics International politics Internet Brindusa Fidanza Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:44:32 +0000 Brindusa Fidanza 81297 at Brindusa Fidanza <div class="field field-au-term"> <div class="field-label">Author:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Brindusa Fidanza </div> </div> </div> <p>Brindusa Fidanza is the Founder and CEO of <a href="">The Ground Up Project</a>, an online data aggregator for small-scale environmental projects. Brindusa was the Associate Director, Deputy Head of Climate Change Initiatives and Global Leadership Fellow at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. She was a facilitator of the Task Force on Low-Carbon Prosperity that reported to the UK G20 presidency in 2009.&nbsp;<strong></strong></p><div class="field field-au-shortbio"> <div class="field-label">One-Line Biography:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Brindusa Fidanza is Associate Director, Environmental Initiatives at the World Economic Forum where she is the country lead coordinator of the Green Growth Action Alliance. Brindusa is a 2011 graduate of the World Economic Forum Global Leadership Program, in partnership with Columbia University, LSE, INSEAD and Wharton Business School. </div> </div> </div> Brindusa Fidanza Tue, 31 Jul 2012 15:42:28 +0000 Brindusa Fidanza 67332 at Romania’s rule of law is everybody’s business <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The ease with which the current Government has unravelled the law in just a matter of weeks, should be of concern to every citizen, every entrepreneur and investor, in Romania and abroad.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The recent rapid and abrupt sequence of actions taken by the Romanian Government is baffling. Not only has the Government wilfully destroyed piece by piece the letter and the spirit of democratic institutions and the <a href="">rule of law</a> it took the country decades to construct, it has also forcefully thrown Romania out onto a very rough path forward, for its economy and its people.</p> <p>Such aggressive moves do not proceed without <a href="">damaging consequences</a> for investor and business trust. Without confidence that the law will be there to enforce contracts, to ensure a stable and secure environment for investments in a country, to protect property rights against abuses, businesses won’t grow, people will not thrive. The rule of law is essential for development and growth, to protect and enable innovation, creativity and productivity to flourish. In turn, all are pre-requisites for strong and sustainable competitiveness.</p> <p>When political power is exercised at the expense of the rule of law, trust and confidence to create wealth through private enterprise is undermined. If rules can be changed at the whim of the powerful, what happens to investments? If the rule of law can’t be trusted and respected, potential is closed off and options are limited.</p> <p>At macro-economic level, too, there are severe consequences for Romania’s currency, which has been at its worst levels in recent years - for a while it was the second worst performing currency after the Sudan pound. There are <a href="">consequences</a> for the country’s ability to borrow internationally. Immediately following the President’s impeachment, Moody’s credit rating agency decreased the outlook on Romania’s rating from <a href="">stable Baa3</a> to negative. In concrete terms, there remain only a few steps for Romania’s debt to become ‘junk’ nobody would like to be left holding and that fact has already increased the cost of borrowing money for the country.</p> <p>There couldn’t be a worse timing for this, as Romania has been borrowing more dozens of millions from the IMF just in spring 2012 and although to date it has given verbal assurances, it has been unable to prove it would have the discipline to service its debt.</p> <p>Why does all this matter? Any country needs to be a performing and trustworthy actor on international markets, in order to fuel its economy, to make its own financial markets function well, to attract and retain investors and be able to participate in international trade. Romania is no different and any belief that the Romanian market could be self-sufficient is an illusion. Romania has no choice but to remain over time a trusted international trading partner or this would severely damage its present ability to grow and the outlook for the future.</p> <p>These dramatic events take place at a time when Romania’s potential should be driving big steps forward. There is enormous potential in the agriculture sector. With worldwide food security concerns, Romania’s agricultural base, its abundance in natural resources and skills could see it become the bread basket of Europe and a major supplier for the world food trade. Equally, there is significant potential in the provision of energy, with the rapid rise in new and especially in clean and renewable energy technologies. The same could be said about significant potential for the tertiary sector, for innovation and R&amp;D, especially in technical domains.</p> <p>In addition, in an environment where the eurozone had been shaky since the financial crisis, Romania had built a reputation for a stable financial market, with controlled inflation and a relatively stable currency, with little structural debt. Its relatively high rates of return compared to the rest of the European Union have made it attractive to investment, domestic and international.</p> <p>All that and more, Romania stands to lose. Growth depends on confidence. Confidence in a future where what is fair and just is the expected norm. The state’s institutions cannot be highjacked by the political leadership without severe economic and social consequences and the damaging of domestic and international investor and citizen trust.</p> <p>Fortunately, in the business community there has been a clear and strong reaction in recent days. Previously relatively passive towards the country’s political happenings, entrepreneurs and corporations have reacted strongly to the unravelling of the rule of law. Organisations such as the Romanian Business Leaders, the American Chamber of Commerce, the Foreign Investors Council, other <a href="">Romanian and foreign investors</a> in the country are <a href="">rallying their membership</a> to make a stronger move to engage the business community in contributing to economic growth, social stability and sustainability based on values of integrity, altruism, fairness and respect for the rule of law.</p> <p>To clarify, this is not about political preference. Whichever part of the political spectrum rules the country at any point in time, it should make its outmost priority respect for and protection of the rule and the spirit of the law. The <a href="">outcome of the recent referendum vote</a> was not important for what it told us about one side or the other. But it was germane in deciding whether Romanians have the right to choose a President at election time, as opposed to a coup d’état.</p> <p>More than any other country in Europe’s history, Romania has experienced what it means to have no respect for human rights, citizen rights, no freedom to own and grow businesses, to innovate and thrive. After decades of wrong and two decades more of trying to rise above history, the ease with which the current Government has unravelled the law in just a matter of weeks, should be of concern to every citizen, every entrepreneur and investor, in Romania and abroad.</p><p><strong>&nbsp;</strong><em>A version of this post was published in Romanian on Friday 27 July, in the <a href="">Ziarul Financiar</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Romania </div> <div class="field-item even"> EU </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? openEconomy EU Romania Culture Democracy and government Economics International politics europe Brindusa Fidanza Tue, 31 Jul 2012 15:41:25 +0000 Brindusa Fidanza 67331 at