Who are the most important actors of the Italian innovation landscape? What role do they play? 

We had the pleasure to speak about these questions with Michael Lim Ubac, journalist and green advocate from Harvard University. 

Firstly, in Mr. Ubac’s opinion, it is very important to point out the strong relationship between the journalism sector and the green one, because the commitment and the care of the environmental field is not only enriched with an additional platform, such as the communication channel, but also it is amplified thanks to more shared experiences and contents. Therefore, by doing this work, it is possible to combine the passionate side with the professional one, that requires to provide facts, data and other sources.

In addition, the issue of reliability has a crucial impact on people and their beliefs, showing how the communication through media should be true and effective if the scope is to reach people awareness and commitment to these fundamental themes. 

Moreover, we introduced a second topic in our discussion, a very current one nowadays: the pandemic. Many things can be said about it, but focusing on the depth of the effects, it is evident that this global condition has touched our consciousness in a way that no previous event had done. 

Michael has compared the pandemic with a wake-up call for the economy, in order to think about sustainability in a different way from the traditional ones. As he said, this opportunity can be seen as a “reset button” for living the “new normal” by aspiring to new types of social behaviour that could govern it. 

In this advisable scenario, if the intent is to reshape our society, the importance of multiple voices and perspectives cannot be taken for granted, on the contrary, the variety and the number of them must be promoted and encouraged, so that they can be put in one collective soul at the end. 

In fact, the soul of sustainability has one special feature: it is timeless. This means that it is capable of equalizing present and future generation in terms of the possibility to enjoy the same benefits over time. 

As we can imagine, the concept behind this definition is fundamental for both humans and the environment, however, for the second one, the time factor plays a key role, because the environment needs some regenerating moments, in which it can pause all its processes, in order to continue to give us all its power.

Consequently, when we are working on the design of our future, we should bear in mind the reason why sustainability is a central factor for the social welfare, and, according to Michael’s view, the pandemic gave us the solution for our present problems, because this phenomenon has made crystal clear the existing inefficiencies in the way that we do things.

Nonetheless, the wrong interpretation of this issue is very easy to incorporate. It does not mean that the aim is pursue through stopping the economic flow, on the contrary it has to be comprehended and felt as a new approach to our lifestyle, focused more on the essential activities and the influence of our actions.

Another aspect is that, thanks to the technological growth, we can count on the digital world for the majority of the services we demand, underlining the positive and strong connection with the reduction of wasted elements and costs, which supports the development of Green Economy. 

So now, what are the future challenges?
Michael shared with us his thoughts about this issue, figuring out that the first thing to do is sending a message to the business community, the private sector and the governments, explaining what is the right kind of development, which could be achieved by including in the list also the non-economical factors, such as fulfillment, happiness and sense of respect, because nevertheless they affect the final economical performance.

But what about all the costs? 

Within every dynamic, there is always a noticeable trade-off between the immediate benefit and the opportunity cost. For instance, the tourism industry is a significant component for the increase of a country’s incomes, because is a big multiplier of jobs, therefore many policies are made in order to promote it, but the maintenance of an overloaded activity for a long period of time is something that should be avoided, because the potential risk is to gradually deteriorate the primary good. 

Additionally, by closing the tourism areas for a while, there has been registered a reduction of underwater noise pollution, which was created by boats. Consequently, the number of marine wildlife has increased again, thus allowing the next tourists to see dolphins and whales not only closer than before, but also with higher probability.

It is thus necessary to consider the long-term benefits of farsighted decisions, which inevitably have some costs, but these are temporary ones. 

Moving forward, we asked the last, but not the least, big question to Michael: “What is the relationship between sustainability and innovation?”.

In order to define something as “an innovation”, it must include new approaches and solutions, which aim to be more efficient than the existing ones. 

Any innovation is a kind of disruptor, which is able to change the traditional set of things and their equilibrium, however after a period of trouble, it will be a new equilibrium, that it might be better than the previous one.

As a result, under this point of view, it could be said that the terms “innovation” and “sustainability” have a similar meaning, because they have in common the longevity characteristic, intended as an eye to the future, in which people are not an extra, they are the heart of progress instead.

In conclusion, since everyone of us can make the difference, we want to close this article by using the words of Michael, in order to leave our readers with this mental picture: “At the moment, we cannot have innovation that is not sustainable”.

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