Before The Weekend #1 — 12 March 2021

Modern slavery in Qatar, a river in Canada that gets legal rights as a person, creative destruction and subsidies and vaccine production.

Before The Weekend is my new initiative, where I share my weekly reflections on what is happening in the world, through the lens of Noble Purpose. You can view the whole video on Youtube or read the summary below. Don’t hesitate to share your own reflections on these topics.

Modern slavery in Qatar

The Guardian recently shared that 6500 workers have died in the construction happening in preparation for the world cup. That’s on average 12 people every day. Why is this not all over the news? How can we celebrate football, knowing about this tragedy? And why is FIFA not reacting, even though “integrity” is supposedly part of their values? The same goes for the world cup sponsors.

Though there are partners that did take the right decision: Hendriks Grazoden, a Dutch enterprise that has done work for multiple world cups, has withdrawn from the deal in Qatar. This signifies a substantial loss in income, but they have decided to take a stand for ethics. They realize that there’s more than just economy. Something I wholeheartedly applaud.

A river in Canada get legal rights as a person

In Canada, the Magpie River, a famous white water river, is the first ever to be legally recognized as a person. This is an incredible step forward in improving our relationship with and treatment of nature. The river now has the right to flow, to have its cycles and natural evolution, to be protected and preserved and to maintain its natural biodiversity. But the most important right it now has, is the right to sue.

Nature has long been considered exploitable. We’ve separated ourselves from our ecosystem, with all the disastrous consequences we see today. This kind of initiative clearly recognizes the need to protect that ecosystem and gives us a tool to do so.

Creative destruction and subsidies

It’s normal and necessary for businesses to disappear when they become irrelevant. This has always been a part of business and the economy. Now, however, due to the corona crisis, a lot of businesses are being subsidized to survive, even the ones that were already in trouble before the pandemic hit. Is this a good thing? What will the impact in the long run be? How can we ensure that there’s still enough push to innovate and renew?

We’ve seen the huge impact the pandemic has had in moving business online and growing eCommerce. Compared to the much slower, more reluctant growth before. This shows us how much more is possible as long as the need is high enough. How all of us instantly get more creative. How can the government ensure that this drive for innovation remains high, even with their life-support measures taking away the financial urgency to do so? When is the time to cut off that life-support, so that there’s room for new players?

Big pharma and vaccine production

We’ve all been reading about the problems with vaccine deliveries, some countries or regions getting more, some getting less and some, to this day, still have no vaccines at all. How do these pharma enterprises make the decision about who gets the vaccines and who doesn’t? Who comes first? What kind of ethical guidelines are being used in those boardrooms?

The problems with production, confusion, delays… all seem to me a lack of commitment and engagement. Especially when you see what is possible when you go above and beyond expectations, like Pfizer and Sanofi are doing. Sanofi, normally a rival of Pfizer, will be producing several million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. A noble act from both parties involved, showing that collaboration among competitors is possible.