A critical feature of any resilient system, especially in our economies and communities, is a healthy and productive workforce. However, the world today faces a looming burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), which directly hampers productivity and claims over 63% of all deaths. Once considered as ‘diseases of affluence’, NCDs are now imposing a hefty burden on developing countries like India. By 2030, NCDs will cost India over US$ 4.6 trillion, posing a threat to economic growth and development.
Southeast Asia (SEA) has shown tremendous progress toward the Millennium Development Goals and pulled hundreds of millions out of poverty over the last two decades. However, natural disasters, health epidemics, and financial shocks keep pushing millions back into poverty. In order for the region to sustain the progress achieved and build on it, countries need to ensure that its populations, particularly those at risk, build holistic resilience.
In many developing countries worldwide, a neglected, but rapidly growing, epidemic has effectively shifted the scale past its tipping point. Road injuries kill more people than AIDS; with a combined death toll from all unintentional injuries of 3.5 million people in 2013, road accidents are quickly rising as one of the top causes of death globally. Whilst developed countries have progressed from the ideation to the prototyping stage of solving universal motoring problems with the advent of self-driving cars, the same cannot be said for the rest of the world. The incidence of road accidents continues to increase at an exponential rate – in 2012 alone, 90% of these deaths occurred in low to middle income countries, home to 81% of the world’s population and 20% of the world’s vehicles.
Our globe is under constant duress from water problems, with one in nine people lacking access to safe water and about 30,000 deaths arising every week from diseases due to unsafe water and lack of sanitation. Furthermore, the Asia Pacific region has the lowest per capita water availability in the world, with rapid population growth, accelerating economic development, unstable governance, and external shocks such as the recent Nepal Earthquake all exacerbating already challenging circumstances.
Free-market capitalism has been one of the most powerful approaches to accelerate economic progress ever conceived, but ever since the 2008 financial crisis, its perception and its role in society have been distorted. Conscious capitalism seeks to redefine the dominant narrative of ‘business as usual’ to allow corporations to pivot to a role as holistic value creators. Conducting business as a “conscious business” is moving beyond just setting up a foundation, funding local community programs or adhering to responsible investment guidelines.
Dr. Judith Rodin, the President of the Rockefeller Foundation, begins the Resilience Dividend (2014) with a chilling warning: “we live in a world defined by disruption”. Disruption is inevitable, she writes, because of rapid urbanization, which increases disaster vulnerability and ecological decline; climate change, which increases risks to livelihoods, water, and the frequency of extreme weather; and globalization, which has created an increasingly interconnected economy that puts strains on individuals, families, enterprises, and governments. We live in a fragile world in which a disruption to one system can lead to a chain reaction of other failures.’
For the competition, we were particularly moved by an entry submitted to us by Sidney Luckett, a lecturer and photographer based in South Africa, who wrote to us about the “natural resilience” of the Fynbos biome. To illustrate this, he provides stunning visuals of the Protea plants that emerged from the firestorm following felicitous rains. He warns, at the end, that such biomes are at risk of being overrun in the absence of “sound urban planning”.
the chrysanthemums faint
after the rains
– Matsuo Basho