Abu Dhabi: A leading international economist hailed the UAE’s ambitious approach to goal-setting and community consultation for its future, and urged the world to look to more directed economic growth to solve the challenges. greatest global challenges.
Mariana Mazzucato, director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London in the UK, also called on policymakers to be more ambitious and lead innovation using a whole-of-government approach.
“[Globally]we talk about climate, future pandemics and the challenges of digitalization, but we don’t talk [yet] investing and innovating together to drive collective intelligence and achieve our toughest goals,” said Mazzucato.
“The United Arab Emirates is very advanced in providing residents with access to the benefits that a government produces. You have also been ahead of the game in space missions, such as the Hope Mars mission, and the different ways to invest in renewable energy, which I find very inspiring. UAE leads whole-of-government approach [as well]and me [would urge you to] think about it with the climate at the center,” she said.
Mazzucato, who has written several books on inclusive and sustainable economic growth, was speaking at the Mohamed Bin Zayed Majlis in the capital. His address was attended by Hamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, CEO of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, government officials, students and private sector leaders.
Urgent climate crisis
According to the economist, the climate crisis is currently one of the world’s most pressing challenges, and one that must lead almost all other national efforts because of its urgency. She also stressed that social inequality is a major concern and said its resolution should underpin other efforts.
“[For instance,] the mission of COVID-19 should actually have been to vaccinate the whole world. It wasn’t the vaccine [that was the mission]because we now have 80 different vaccines and we could have [been satisfied] with 20. But if we don’t vaccinate the world, the [mission isn’t yet] done,” she explained.
Mazzucato said policymakers should develop bold, realistic and inspiring goals. She explained that this generally allows ripple effects that benefit the whole economy. As an illustration, she referred to the Apollo landing mission – the moonshot.
“The mission was to get to the moon in a short amount of time, and to do that they needed hundreds of thousands of people to collaborate. There were 400,000 people involved in the project, and not just in aerospace . [Other sectors involved included] nutrition, materials, electronics, software. And all the problems that had to be solved along the way even brought us a lot of economic value. The entire software industry as we know it today, [for example], is actually an overflow from the moon landing. Other things that came up were camera phones, sports shoes and home insulation,” Mazzucato said.
Recommending a similar “moon approach” to solving other challenges, Mazzucato stressed that governments should not shy away from imposing tough and ambitious conditions on the private sector and third-party collaborators. According to the economist, reducing the carbon footprint of the steel sector as a condition for obtaining a loan in Germany has given the sector a head start. On the other hand, Sweden’s focus on school lunch sustainability is driving green innovation in the supply chain.
Prioritize social challenges
“I’ve been coming to the UAE for a number of years, and one of the reasons I found it so interesting was this open discussion about the need to do government differently,” Mazzucato said.
“I am deeply optimistic [that we can make a difference], that’s why I want to inspire. We can when we care, when we put urgency into our system and when we [treat our] societal challenges with as much urgency and ambition as when we go to war. We must not just invest money and hope for the best, but structure economic systems to be results-oriented,” she insisted.