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170 scientists sign manifesto

COVID-19 has shaken the world. 170 academics of eight different Dutch universities believe the time is right for a positive and meaningful vision. They signed a manifesto with a list of five policy proposals for a post-COVID 19 development model to cope with this pandemic and other social and environmental crises in the future. The –mainly- sociologists and environmental scientists who signed the manifesto urge politicians, policy-makers and the general public to start organizing for their implementation sooner rather than later. We asked six scientists of the Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology department why they signed and why they think this manifesto is important.

Read the manifesto 'Planning for Post-Corona: Five proposals to craft a radically more sustainable and equal world'.

Marja Spierenburg - Professor Anthropology of Sustainability and Livelihood

‘There is a lot of discussion in the media about the economic costs associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. I’m afraid that when we ‘restart’ our economy, those costs will be shifted again to those who already bore the brunt of the costs of the financial crisis in 2008. In the midst of this crisis, we applaud our heroes in the health care sector. But I’m afraid that when this is over, they will have to stick to rigid protocols again, aimed at reducing costs as much as possible, and that those with flexible ‘0-hour-contracts’ and the forcefully ‘self-employed’ will suffer again. At the same time, the weaknesses of our economic system are becoming glaringly obvious. Weaknesses that also threaten public health – see for instance the shortages of medical supplies due to the concentration of production in low-wage countries, and the self-employed, especially in countries with limited social security, who feel forced to continue to work despite the risks. It is time to do what we should have done in response to the financial crisis of 2008: radically reform the economy to make it more sustainable, healthier, and fair. Discussions about reforms are now starting in the media – the time has come to act!’

Andrew Littlejohn - Assistant Professor

‘Right now, one can read many articles against “politicizing” coronavirus, including in the Dutch media. Their authors range from those on the political right to those squarely in the center. What they have in common is a desire to restart the pre-pandemic economy. However, scholars from many disciplines in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities have shown that COVID-19, in fact, diagnoses fatal flaws in that economy. It is not "politicization" to point out that we need new economic paradigms if we are to avoid both more pandemics and the looming catastrophe of climate change. This is why I signed the manifesto.’

Irene Moretti – PhD Candidate

‘Covid-19 forces us to critically reflect on the world we helped to shape, and to painfully experience the shortcomings of neoliberal ideologies. With the halt it has imposed on economic and social life, the natural environment has a chance to reclaim its spaces and to heal. While the pandemic gives us the opportunity to contemplate the type of people and society we aspire to become. This manifesto offers insightful guidelines towards a more sustainable and fairer society. As an engaged citizen and anthropologist, I fully endorse it!’

Mark Westmoreland – Associate Professor

‘While the COVID-19 pandemic is caused by a ’novel’ virus, the underlying issues that have facilitated its harrowing impact are not new. This manifesto recognizes the ensuing crisis as a manifestation of a broader set of crises, ones that do not rivet our attention in a moment of urgency, but lumber slowly (almost imperceptibly) towards irreversible catastrophe. This manifesto recognizes what happens when we take for granted our biodiversity, public wellbeing, and vital professions at the expense of unsustainable economic progress. And while we have seen amazing acts of selfless heroism during this current crisis, the manifesto rightly demands that we see this moment as a clarion call to give proper attention to these underlying crises even, and especially, once the pandemic has passed. We as social scientists have the tools to assess these issues on a human scale, the knowledge to recognize their impact on a global scale, and the ability to imagine another kind of reality on an altogether different scale. Carpe diem.’

Coco Kanters - PhD Candidate

‘There is an overabundance of research in the social sciences and humanities that substantiates the claim that our current political-economic world order is structurally unsustainable. The manifesto is important because it pools this massive repository of knowledge in a call to action. The policies and strategies used before covid-19 are inadequate to address the challenges of an increasingly fragile global system. From my research on alternative finance and urban economies, I know that concerted institutional effort is vital in achieving structural change on a broad scale. I hope the manifesto activates policy-makers and institutions to collaborate in – sustainably – re-building society.’

Vincent Walstra - PhD candidate

‘A crisis confronts us with our everyday habits and standards. This confrontation may be frustrating, but it also allows us to rethink and reform the way we live. That is why I have signed this manifesto, as a movement to rethink and reform society. Let us realize what are ‘vital professions’ and think of why professionals in education, healthcare, and public transport are so undervalued in our society. Let us be aware of the destructive character of mass consumption, now that we see pollution decrease due to a radical drop in factory- and travel-activities. Let this crisis open our eyes!’

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