By Breakthrough Solutions president and Camposol independent board member Raul Fernandez
What is clear and paradoxical is that those who formerly, were protectionists and anti-global economy are now the ones who defend it the most, and those who were the prophets of the open economies are now frightened of the “monster” they have created.
t can not be denied that the globalization of the economy, together with the explosion of communications, has generated, in the last 30 years,a degree of wealth as never before seen in the history of mankind.
If we compare the percentage of people living in the world below the poverty level of 30 years ago and now, despite all the sensationalist news to the contrary, we will see that the world has brought more people out of poverty in this period than in any period of its history.
To give some figures, in 1993, according to the definition of the World Bank, there were about 2 billion people in the world living in extreme poverty. By 2106, that figure has fallen to less than 700 million. These are 1.3 billion people, equivalent to the entire population of the United States, Europe and Latin America together, who emerged from extreme poverty.
In women’s education, another indicator of progress, also the change is impressive. In 1980, 50% of the women in the world could be classified as illiterate. Despite all the cultural pressure against women’s education in some regions of the world, that number today has fallen to less than 17%.
I could continue to give out figures, like increase of GDP and other indicators but the point is clear.
It seems difficult to believe all this good news, if we look at it from the perspective of one of the traditionally “rich” countries. Today, it is much more difficult to get out of poverty for those born in a poor neighborhood of a US city than for those born in many countries of emerging economies.
Part of this, no doubt, is due to globalization, excessive urbanization and partly also to what is needed to get out of being classified as poor.
What is undeniable is the role that agriculture has played in creating jobs and bringing education to rural areas in developing countries. This, combined with the industrialization of these economies for export, has allowed this tremendous advance in the fight against poverty.
People working in non-agricultural jobs create demand for healthier foods , which creates the need for more produce in a virtuous circle. Improvements in storage, transportation and distribution systems have enabled healthy foods to be available year-round.
Leading companies in emerging countries are reaping awards and recognitions for their actions in their community and achieve better results.
How to explain then, the emergence of movements of isolation and border shut downs such as those which have arisen in Great Britain, Holland, France and the United States?
Undoubtedly the globalization of the economy also brought important changes for the developed economies. These changes were manifested in the migration of the labor force required from the manufacturing sector to the service sector and information technology industry. That change was so rapid that there was no time to adjust the education of the economically active population to this new reality.
Thus there is the contradiction that there is underemployment or unemployment in the same countries that must import skilled labor to fill positions in software and communications companies. There is an excess of labor in the cities and there is a lack of it in the agricultural sector.
Here is the paradox: in the countries with developed economies, there has not been the same advance in the education of the population as in the demand for labor. Education is still geared towards an industry that does not need manpower, while the industry that does need it cannot not get enough qualified people.
Emerging countries should take note to avoid making the same mistake.
The world, by 2050, will need to produce 50% more food than it does today. Latin America is the only continent with the capacity to increase its production at this rate, but it will only achieve this with technology and rural education program in line with the needs of modern agriculture.
That’s the big challenge for today’s winners in order for them to continue to be tomorrow.