“A different kind of economy: one that brings life not death, one that is inclusive and not exclusive, humane and not dehumanising, one that cares for the environment and does not despoil it”.
In a May 1 2019 letter, Pope Francis sketched out guidelines for the “Economy of Francesco” event, an initiative originally planned for Assisi in March 2020 but later postponed to November 19-21 because of the coronavirus pandemic. It will now take place online next month on the francescoeconomy.org website.
This Tuesday the “Economy of Francesco” event was officially presented in a Vatican press conference, where organisers said that participants have made the most of the pandemic tragedy to extend their preparations into a full nine months of in-depth debates and proposals.
“We want to listen to the voice of young people and to put into practice the vision… that ‘one is not saved by oneself'”, Sister Alessandra Smerilli, a member of the “Economy of Francesco” steering committee, said this morning at the presentation.
Luigino Bruni, professor of political economy at the Libera Università Maria SS. Assunta (LUMSA) in Rome and scientific director of the Pope’s economy summit, celebrated today that “the ‘Economy of Francesco’ event has become the largest movement of young economists and business people in the world”.
Bruni said that the mass adherence to the project is an important result that has shown that the economy prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus is already obsolete.
There is no longer any reason to give free rein to an economy “that plays with external goods” and has neglected “too many invisible goods, such as relational goods and moral goods”, Bruni explained, stressing too many companies today lack a primary first asset: “spiritual capital”.
A merely ‘green’ economy is not enough to have a true “economy of Francesco”, Bruni went on, explaining that markets instead need to include the poor and provide spaces for the empowerment of young people and for the cultivation of the interior life.
The “economy of Francesco” cannot be “only ecological” because “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor are the same cry”, Bruni insisted.
For her part Smerilli, who is also a professor of political economy at the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences ‘Auxilium’, explained that what the “Economy of Francesco” event is aiming for is “not a document, not a treaty, but proposals”, to understand what young people want for the future and what help they need to get there.
The idea of an “economy of Francesco” means above all youth, hope and concreteness, Smerilli continued, explaining that the idea of the event is not a question of inviting young people to spread a message, but of asking them to help build it.
In a world sick with short-term thinking and short-sightedness, giving voice to young people means building bridges to the future, the nun highlighted.
The “Economy of Francesco” event, in numbers
From March 2020 to date, almost 1,000 young people have been working in 12 “Economy of Francesco” villages.
Described as places that encompass the participants’ working sessions on key topics of the economy, each village has a different theme: Management and Gift, Finance and Humanity, Work and Care, Agriculture and Justice, Energy and Poverty, Business and Peace, Women for Economy, CO2 of Inequalities, Vocation and Profit, Businesses in Transition, Life and Lifestyle, Policies and Happiness.
Each “village” will be coordinated by 2 participants, one senior and one junior, chosen by the Scientific Committee and about 10 collaborators.
All in all, about 300 events have been organised in preparation for the “Economy of Francesco” and a series of webinars and 27 online seminars have been streamed on the organisation’s official Youtube channel and translated into 4 languages.
So far 2,000 men and women under 35-years-old have registered for the November event. 120 nations will be connected for 4 hours each day plus a 24-hour marathon on the second day, thanks to the active contribution of over 20 countries. Some 300 journalists have been accredited.
The conferences feature internationally recognized key speakers including Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, economists and experts such as Kate Raworth, Jeffrey Sachs, Vandana Shiva, Stefano Zamagni, Mauro Magatti, Juan Camilo Cardenas, Jennifer Nedelsky, Sr. Cécile Renouard as well as many top business entrepreneurs and managers.
(With reporting by Vatican News)