Environment well being

Innovation as leverage to defeat “somnambulism”

Pierangelo Soldavini • Journalist of Nòva24 - Il Sole 24 Ore

Innovation as leverage to defeat “somnambulism”

“Italian society seems to be affected by somnambulism, plunged into the deep sleep of reasoning calculation, which would be needed to face structural dynamics bearing doomed outcomes”

Italy? It has become a country of “sleepwalkers”, additionally paralysed by a continuous emergency, which turns into a pretext for stagnation that risks affecting the younger generations in particular. The picture that emerges from latest Censis’ report on the social state of the country is anything but reassuring. “Italian society seems to be affected by somnambulism, plunged into the deep sleep of reasoning calculation, which would be needed to face structural dynamics bearing doomed outcomes”. This is what the Censis report specifies, pointing the finger primarily towards the demographic crisis, which in perspective will lead to a reduction in the Italian population of 4.5 million by mid-century, as if two cities of the size of Milan and Rome would disappear.  

Population ageing –  in this respect, Italy sadly ranks second place behind Japan - is an enormous problem with relevant economic and social consequences. To be tackled immediately, without delays. Actually, we are already late. However, what is most worrisome is “somnambulism”, i.e. the carrying on with no direction, with eyes closed and being led by chance.  The Censis report points out that it is not just absence of leadership at the level of the country’s ruling class, but a phenomenon spread throughout the “silent majority” of Italians.

Apathy that comes from the generalized feeling of having little influence in determining the future of our society – more than half of the population claims it. It is something that goes beyond simple loss of trust in politics, but translates into social immobility, inability to look with determination to the future and to the resolution of the problems gripping the community.  This is the attitude with which the looming demographic crisis and the global migration phenomenon are tackled. The same goes for the climate change challenge: 84% of Italians are terrified by a climate “gone crazy”, and fears for other problems, from migrants to war, are reported in similar percentage. 

The result is that if everything is emergency, then nothing is really emergency. 

This mindset ends up sharpening the feeling of powerlessness towards major crises and freezes the people. 

In all this, the youngest suffer the most. Their generation is the most penalized because it appears to be deprived of the prospect of a future economically, socially and also personally.  Yet, in a country with a healthy evolutionary dynamic, the younger generations should be those pushing the most for change and progress. They should be the ones with less fear and more courage, that drag the country along with their, even utopian, enthusiasm.  Instead, it is the segment most blocked by powerlessness and irrelevance in a country increasingly older, more sleepwalkers among sleepwalkers.    

So, how to break away from spiralling negativism and pessimism that risk throwing Italy into a spin with no apparent end? We do have to start somewhere to reverse the trend!  In this respect, companies certainly have a critical role in filling in for the evident shortcomings of politics. Believing in the younger generation means transforming crises into opportunities and bringing out the best in people, making them feel part of a positive mechanism, of resilience, to use a currently preferred term.  Starting also from small things that become important.

Sustainability is one example, the strategy needed to counteract a seemingly irreversible climate crisis.  This requires innovative tools apt to reverse the trend and restore trust in the future.  Each business can start from its own specifics.  Even a transformation such as recyclable packaging as paper becomes a key signal that amplifies its effects reaching well beyond the actual impact. Let us have a closer look. A tray of paper-like material is innovative for the entire food sector, and its impact in terms of sustainability becomes more significant as take up by the food sector grows.  Indeed, we need to aim for change, going beyond competitive divisions, steadily stirring towards the common good, the goal that should take priority over emergencies.  A signal throughout the entire system that can move people, awaking consciousness and reactivating creativity. 

Behind this small great innovation that raises the bar of the eco-packaging concept there is a policy of paper reduction and circular resources, the result of committed strategy and extended research that has made it possible for the company to channel its best energy, often the youngest and more open to change, and show a path to transformation possible to all. 

In this way, sustainability can really become an irreplaceable platform of growth and advancement, at the service of the country-system, to prove that change is actually possible for the good of society as a whole, and succeeding above all in engaging the youngest generation, those traditionally most open to the new and who need today more than ever to feel the trust of the rest of the country.  Only this way, by starting from small yet big things that leverage innovation, everyone can realise that Italy is capable of reverting the trend.  And that defeating “somnambulism” is possible.

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