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The right to use the Catalan language in education
An in-depth analysis on the compliance of Spain’s national laws in accordance with the European Regional level
Under the rule of dictator Franco, students were not allowed to learn Catalan due to an outright language ban. The prolonged hardship of four decades finally halted with his death in 1975. As a result, the post-Franco era saw a resurrection of Catalan.
The Spanish Constitution 1978(Constitution), under Art.3(1), mentions Castilian as the official language. Additionally, it recognises “other Spanish languages” under Art.3(2). They refer to the minority languages Catalan, Basque and Galician, which are also co-official languages of Spain. Catalan is spoken in many areas but mainly in Catalonia, the Balearic islands, and Valencia.
Additionally, statutes were tailored for the specific autonomous communities. Subsequently, the 1979 Statute of Autonomy of Cataloniawas created. At the EU level, Spain has assumed international legal obligations toward protecting the linguistic rights of the Catalan minorities in the educational context.
Generally, the fundamental means of preserving these rights is attributable to a well- functioning educational system. The compulsory stage notably begins at the elementary level. However, recently Catalan was constitutionally challenged, which instigated fear of another suppression of their linguistic rights.The European framework governing the right to use minority languages in primary education
At the European level, the leges speciales, comprise the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages (Charter) and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities(FCNM), whereby Spain ratified both.
The European framework governing the right to use minority languages in primary education
At the European level, the leges speciales, comprise the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages9 (Charter) and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities10 (FCNM), whereby Spain ratified both.
According to De Witte11, the core attribute of the Charter is its “à la carte approach”, whereby Member States (MS) have a discretion to choose which regional/minority languages they wish to protect according to the different provisions.
Art.8 deals specifically with education. Art.8(1) states that “…the Parties undertake, within the territory in which such languages are used, … and without prejudice to the teaching of the official language(s) of the State:”. In effect, Art.8(1) relates solely to the territory where each regional/minority language is practised12. The interpretation of this provision is set as a condition, in that Parties can only provide the minority language as long as it does not disrupt the parallel teaching of the official language.
In relation to primary level education, Spain has assumed its obligations under Art.8(1)(b)(i) and Art.(8)(1)(h). The former states that MS are required “to make available primary education in the relevant regional or minority languages.”. The latter conveys that they are required “to provide the basic and further training of the teachers required to implement…” the said provisions to which the MS have accepted.
In regard to Art.8(1)(b)(i), this implies that MS are required to provide the minority language at the primary level. Additionally, Art.8(1)(h), is an equivalent provision for teachers, which completes the whole process of “making the language available”, as MS arrequired to ensure the competence of their teaching staff at this level.
Under the FCNM, there are no provisions specific to primary education. Instead, the relevant articles cover linguistic rights at all levels. In contrast to the Charter, the characteristic of these articles embraces a collective aspect rather than individualised components13.
According to Thornberry14, the sub-articles of Art.12 FCNM are interconnected when dealing with the curriculum, inter-communal educational contacts, and access to education. Art.12(1) is a firm injunction that compels MS to take actions in the fields of education where “appropriate”, “…to foster knowledge” of both the minority languages and that of the majority. In essence, Art.12(1) must be executed in a critical and objective way, that is free from ideological manipulation such as xenophobic concepts and delivered with value to human rights15.
Additionally, Art.12(2) requires that MS shall “inter alia provide adequate opportunities for teaching and access to textbooks, and facilitate contacts among student and teachers of different communities.”. The term “inter alia” enables a widened scope for MS to materialise its obligations under Art.12(1). Additionally, “facilitate” refers to simplifying the process of socialisation.
Lastly, Art.12(3) is based on the principle of equality. It necessitates that MS “…promote equal opportunities for access to education at all levels for persons belonging to national minorities.”. This provision can be interpreted in two ways, either it implies that all national minorities are given the same equal rights, or that national minorities are given the same equal rights as that of the majority.
Furthermore, Art.14(1) obligates MS to allow a national minority to learn their language. It states that “…every person belonging to a national minority has the right to learn his or her minority language.”. Additionally, Art.14(2) reiterates “adequate opportunities” in relation to being taught or to “receive instruction” in the “minority language”. Although, Art.12(3) acts as a caveat to Art.14(2) in that it can only be activated as long as it does not prejudice the learning/teaching of the official language of the State. In effect, the whole provision is directly aimed at education by the use of the terms “learn” and “teach”. Hence, Art.14 FCNM protects not only the linguistic rights but also the identity of the national minorities16.
Therefore, at the European level, both instruments complement each other in terms of guaranteeing a wide scope of protection to the linguistic rights attached to the use of minority languages at a primary level of education.
The Spanish national laws governing the right to use Catalan in primary education
With the education system being decentralised in Spain, the Autonomous Communities are given constitutional powers to control education. This entails that the Generalitat (the Catalonian Government), inter alia, bears an obligation to protect linguistic rights in education17.
The Regional laws
The leges speciales applicable to primary education are The Reform of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia 200618 (Estatut) and The Linguistic Policy Act 199819(LPA). Under the Estatut, the relevant provision is Art.35, “Linguistic rights in the field of education”, which corresponds to Chapter III, “Education” of the LPA, more precisely, Art.20, “The language of education” and Art.21, “Non-university education” and Art.24, “Teaching staff”. Therefore, they shall be examined by themes.
The right to use Catalan in primary education is derived from Art.35(1)-(2) of the Estatut and Art.20, Art.21(1), and Art.21(3) of the LPA. Both Art.35(1)-(2) establish the right for every person “to receive an education in Catalan” at the “non-university level”. The term “non- university” refers to all education below this level which includes the primary level.
Furthermore, Art.35(2), in respect to the students, combines both a right and an obligation “to have sufficient oral and written knowledge of Catalan and Castilian upon completing compulsory education…”. Additionally, the said provision provides that both languages “…shall be sufficiently represented in the curricula.”. Art.21(3) guarantees the same but with reference to “teaching” instead of “learning”.
Upon completion of their primary education, students are granted a school-leaving certificate on the condition that they are proficient in both Catalan and Castilian20. Hence, both statutes systematically support the right to be educated at a primary level.
Moreover, the powerful combination of the right and obligation under the Estatut presents the following legal implication. The stringency of the obligation holds a higher threshold than “duty”21. Therefore, reinforcing the normative practises of the legal entitlement provided by the right. The obligation further insulates the said right by its legally binding attribute22. Thus, clearly aiming at its preservation.
In addition to Catalan being recognised as the official language of Catalonia together with Castilian23, it is also the “own language”24 which means native to Catalonia. The rights attached to its native and official value are derived from Art.6 of the Estatut which conveys that Catalan “…is the language of normal use for teaching and learning in the education system.” This notion is further carried under Art.35(1) of the Estatut, Art.20(2) and Art.21(1) of the LPA.
Under the provisions, the LPA emphasises the “vehicular” characteristic of Catalan as a means to achieve its normalisation in the bilingual model. Art.20(2) further requires
“educational establishments at all levels” to use Catalan “in their educational and administrative activities, both internally and externally.”. This implies that the ambit of the rights is not limited to elementary classrooms. The word “externally” denotes that Catalan extends to extra-curricular activities. Additionally, as Costa25 conveys, references to “non- university” under the Estatut and “all educational establishments” cover private and public schools. Reciprocally, the linguistic rights are further enhanced by Art.24(1), ensuring the competence of teachers. The teaching staff must “know” Catalan and Castilian and apply them to their “teaching tasks”.
In terms of prohibition of discrimination, both Art.35(3) of the Estatut and Art.21(5) of the LPA state that students shall not be separated, be it in centres or class groups, on the grounds of their habitual language. In essence, this provision protects against the “individualised treatment”26, which can occur in two ways either by treating Castilian as superior to Catalan or vice versa. Given the vulnerable age of students at the primary level, that is from six to twelve, these provisions are fundamental and facilitate the enjoyment of the rights.
Hence, it is evident that the leges speciales, the linguistic rights provide for full validation and legal effectiveness to any primary school students practising those rights.
By virtue of all Catalonians being Spanish citizens, the right to education is protected in a more general manner under the Constitution. Art.27(1) notably states that, “Everyone has the right to education…”. Art.27(4) further conveys that “Elementary education is compulsory and free.”. Hence, Art.27 interpreted in light of the constitutional acknowledgement of the statutes in the autonomous communities, confers that the scope of protection extends to the linguistic rights in education being protected also under the Constitution.
The compliance with the European regional level of Spain’s national laws regarding the right to use the Catalan language in education
While Spain does not formally recognise national minorities under its Constitution and legal system28, the State still acknowledges its international obligations to preserve and respect the linguistic rights of those minorities29. However, Catalonians were of the view that the constitutional challenges to Catalan were an obstruction to these rights.
The Legal Challenges
Despite the Estatut approved by the Catalonian and Spanish governments and a binding referendum, the Constitutional Court’s ruling in 201030 declared Art.6(1) of the Estatut, as unconstitutional. In addition to Catalan being the “language of normal use”, it was previously also the language of “preferential use”31. The Court stated that it imposed “…the prescription of a priority use of one of them…”32. The term was consequently struck out. This decision directly impacted on Art.35(1)-(2) of the Estatut as they are now to be interpreted in accordance with the ruling.
Since Catalan is the native language of Catalonia, it predominantly suggests that it is “preferential”. Consequently, the sentiment was that Spain had acted ultra vires, as it defeated the notion of “own language”. In effect, the bilingual model does not imply that both languages are taught in equal proportions, rather that both are included in the educational system33. The Catalonian linguistic regime notably, treats Castilian as a language immersed into the curricula34. Nonetheless, the ruling declared that “Castilian is to be introduced as the language of instruction “proportionately and equally to Catalan at all class levels.”35. Thus, perceived as highly prejudicial to Catalan.
In 2021, the Spanish Supreme Court ordered the Generalitat to provide for at least twenty- five percent of teaching hours for the main subjects36. Where Castilian, in the existing linguistic model, only formed part of five to ten percent of the teaching hours, which amounts to approximately two hours per week at the elementary level.
Compliance with the Charter
Nevertheless, the Committee of Experts’ (CoE) assessment, in its third report38, conveyed that the 2010’s ruling did not affect Spain’s compliance with the Charter “especially with respect to education”39. According to the CoE’s assessment40 and Ramallo’s41, Spain in choosing “(b)(i)” (first sub-paragraph), implies a high level of commitment which normally entails satisfying also (ii) and (iii)42. Those sub-paragraphs require Spain to provide a “substantial part” of the education at primary level in Catalan, and the teaching forming “…an integral part of the curriculum”43.
Therefore, in reference to “make available”, under Art.(b)(i) of the Charter, the CoE deduced that the ruling had essentially set a precedent for parents to have the discretion to allow their children to be educated in Castilian only and that Catalan was to be considered optional44. Additionally, the commitment under Art.8(h) entails that it accounts for any discrepancies in the “de facto situation of regional or minority languages”45. In Catalonia, this would refer to normalising the education of Castilian in parallel to Catalan. The selection of the said provision further implies that Spain has chosen a provision which wording46 adapts to the legal framework applied to Catalan in Catalonia
Nevertheless, the CoE still requested Spain to report on how the ruling impacted on Catalan. As a matter of fact, the CoE’s fourth48 and fifth report49, had assessed that Spain indeed guaranteed Catalan in primary education. Therefore, fulfilling all of its obligations in respect to the selected provisions under Art.8 of the Charter
Compliance with the FCNM
In contrast to the above reports, all five FCNM reports submitted by Spain, specifically focus on the Roma Community. However, the Advisory Committee (AC) conveys, that this does not limit the protection of rights of other Communities.
The notion of “equality”54 in terms of access to education under Art.12 of the FCNM, notably entails that, the latitude of the rights are not limited to the learning/teaching of Catalan in classrooms. The scope of protection of these rights extend to “educational activities outside regular school hours.”.
In effect, Art.20(2) LPA provides for “external activities”. The provision is further reinforced by Art.44 of the Estatut, “Education, research and culture”, whereby public authorities have a duty to “promote and encourage” family members and provide access to “extra-curricular educational activities”. This implies that when primary school students leave their classrooms, they are legally provided the right to practise Catalan in whichever activities they please. The right for students ultimately gives rise to opportunities for teachers. Therefore, the Spanish laws not only conform with the FCNM, but are construed to preserve the language by its active stimulation.
In accordance with Art.14 of the FCNM both the LPA 1998 and the Estatut are coherent in conveying the “right to learn”58 Catalan. The term is synonymous to “the right to receive an education in Catalan” under the Estatut and the notion follows under the provisions of the LPA which guarantee the right to use Catalan in education. Additionally, The AC elucidated that it assessed whether national minorities were given the right to learn their “own language” and if there were any limitations to the exercise of the said right59. In effect, the right to use their “own language” is found under both statutes with the only condition being that it does not prejudice Castilian. The principle of equality is evidently enshrined in both statutes given that the bilingual linguistic equilibrium is vehemently iterated. Hence, the Spanish laws comply with Art.14 of the FCNM
To conclude, the Charter’s à la carte method enabled Spain the discretion to choose obligations positively in accordance with primary education under Art.8. The CoE reports, notably, reflected the consecutive fulfilments and compliance. Despite the constitutional battles that directly impacted the primary level of education, the guarantee of the Catalan language and its rights to Catalonia remain unchanged. Additionally, the right to know their own language did not neglect Castilian and its rights in the reintegration of the bilingual educational system, which is a prerequisite under the Charter.
Concerning the FCNM, the Estatut and the LPA, conformed at a more profound level than the mere literal wording of the provisions. Thus, allowing primary school students the right to enjoy Catalan above and beyond the rigid school framework.
Lastly, the provisions under the national laws, in letter and spirit, aim to protect the rights and preserve them. Thus, overall, Spain’s national laws are in full compliance at the European regional level.
By Samia Mallam-Hasham
Leggere il Mondo
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Education in indigenous languages resists
In Peru, there are 48 native languages and approximately 28,000 bilingual schools, within the modalities of regular basic school, alternative basic school and special basic school, serving more than 1,200,000 students nationwide, at the pre-school, primary and secondary levels.
In order to continue with the proposals for progress in rural bilingual education policies, within the Peruvian Ministry of Education there is the Directorate of Alternative Basic Education, Intercultural Bilingual Education and Educational Services in Rural Areas, which, through its professionals, is responsible for designing and proposing improvements in education in rural areas, through proposals for educational improvements and training for bilingual teachers, in order to ensure the education of thousands of students in an inclusive manner and to avoid school dropout.
However, despite continuous efforts, the lack of budget and bilingual teachers only widens the inequality gap. Furthermore, the ongoing political crisis in the country not only generates an atmosphere of uncertainty in general, but it also stops further proposals and investments in order to meet the main demands of students from indigenous peoples.
Rural bilingual schools are not only spaces for the dissemination of academic knowledge, but also of ancestral knowledge. Peruvian indigenous peoples are spaces in which there is a living culture of ancestral knowledge, which is passed down from generation to generation. Ensuring bilingual education through teacher training, funding, educational policies, but above all respect for ancestors who have resisted through the centuries, would contribute to reducing the inequality and indifference with which these peoples have been living. The current political situation, and the current violation of human rights in the country, especially in sectors where there is a high presence of indigenous people (the Department of Puno is the most affected, with citizens murdered during the demonstrations against the current president and is home to the Quechua and Aymara population), only affects a student community that is faced with indifference, lack of basic services to study and lack of quality education; However, it also empowers students who are aware that they are the voice of the future and seek to be heard in order to feel included in a country that is highly centralised in the capital Lima.
The challenges facing the Peruvian state in order to ensure the development of students from indigenous peoples is to continue to coordinate with various institutions such as the Ministry of Culture (which has a directorate that promotes policies for the protection of indigenous peoples), civil associations that have a professional staff to meet the main demand for social projects, curators who would help students to continue generating spaces for dialogue and ancestral knowledge, enhancing through education everything they have learned through their community sages; But above all, the Ministry of Education must ensure educational policies that ensure that students can receive the same quality education that students who have Spanish as their mother tongue receive.
The 48 native languages resist in a country that seems to be more and more indifferent every day and whose colonial construction still persists. However, what Peruvian society does not count on is a large native student community, who through meetings try to make their own demands visible, try to denounce open secrets that are like assassinations of community leaders defending their territories, as well as systematic violence that they constantly experience. Rural schools are therefore not only spaces of knowledge, but also of resistance, in the face of a country that looks at them with indifference.
Ana Claudia Baltazar Diaz
A Multipolar World 🌍
Reflections on Economy, Market and Society for the year to come*
The Human Advisor Project proposes some reflections on the year that is about to come. It is recommended to read the disclaimer note at the end of the text. The report is divided into short and summary paragraphs, please request in the comment section if you would like to deepen one or more of the topics below in future reports and articles. Let’s get started.
The evolution of Globalization
The era of the West as the center of the world is over. The new trend now, in the West, will be to consider the world as a two-pole world with a democratic bloc and an authoritarian bloc. However, this seems to be an overly simplistic and naive definition. The rise of alternative powers to the two US-CHINA blocs seems to be foreshadowing an evolution in the direction of a multipolar world within which exchanges of resources and services will continue both between blocs and within the blocs. The market will suffer from the moment of tension caused by this change, but in the long run it will benefit. Nationalist and populist movements will be able to arise and proliferate temporarily in the initial phase of this process, but clashing with the economic needs of global market union that will make them mature and/or lose ground in the medium and long term. It is also noteworthy that we are preparing to reach 10 billion people on planet earth in a few years, with all the challenges in terms of food supply, population density, migration, security, energy and pollution that this will bring.
Climate change and social justice
From Cop27, some main scenarios have emerged:
There is no agreement at global level on how to reduce emissions.
Europe is a leader in regulation with the US, which could supplant it as early as this year. At the moment, the focus seems to be on the rebalancing of social justice between developed and emerging countries, to the extent that the west will have to (would they already have to?) create and/or support the emerging countries in the process of adaptation to current climatic conditions (provoked mainly by the developed countries). A Cop28 more focused on decarbonization is expected next year.
War in Ukraine as a regional and non-world war
The war in Ukraine that seemed to result in a world-nuclear-war in the second quarter of 2022, now appears to have stabilized as a ‘regional’ war, only European. The consequences on the rest of the world are visible but not as much as if it had broken out a few decades ago. This makes us reflect on the role of an increasingly less central Europe at world level, that is, more and more a single subject among a multitude of subjects, political, economic and military, within a multipolar world.
The future monetary war
Strong dollar, weak euro, and other raising currencies. The Chinese digital currency is in the pipeline, which wants to become the main exchange currency of the BRICS countries (which would also like to incorporate Dubai). All this monetary ferment seems to foreshadow a future currency war. Among these currencies, one certainly represents the most ambiguous but interesting: Bitcoin. Much down from last year’s highs but very high compared to its pre-covid levels, with its strong assumptions and projections still very promising in the long term, despite the expensive and polluting mining issue.
Inflation and Central Banks
Inflation (to 70% due to the increase in the cost of food and energy due to the war in Ukraine) is the big issue of these last months. The loss of purchasing power of households is beginning to be felt and, while in America there is already talk of the ‘beginning of the end of inflation’, in Europe, although it seems that the peak has reached, high inflation will still seem to remain present throughout 2023, thus impacting the cost of living and eroding uninvested savings or money on the current accounts of savers. Central banks are running for cover, in fact, the FED and the ECB seem to want to continue to use the hard fist, raising interest rates on the money lent to the banks, which consequently raise mortgage rates, thus triggering a difficult situation for businesses and citizens. At the moment, inflation forecasts are not rosy for Europe. To run for cover, many think of lightening their liquidity by investing in the rising bond market or buying Real Estate, mainly in the ‘Logistics’ and Private Luxury sector (a big “No” for the commercial real estate sector in sharp devaluation from the pandemic).
It is given by everyone as certain a more contained growth in the two-year period 2023/2024 with a “bear” or dormant market, or even in a slight decline in Europe (recession) and very light or absent in the USA. This would represent a significant disadvantage for investors who opened their market positions in 2021 who are now losing double-digit percentages, but a considerable advantage for those who want to open them (especially in solid stock) positions in the next year by buying on weaknesses.
The crisis, as always, is not felt by the richest groups of society, which are becoming richer and richer and who, even driven by inflation, tend less and less to take liquidity on account and prefer to spend, and sometimes even invest, in the luxury sector. Although down from last year due to the war in Ukraine, buying a Rolex still means doubling if not tripling your investment at the exact time of purchase. In fact, a Steel Daytona purchased today at 12K€ from that elité that has access to the waiting lists of retailers, can be exchanged in the gray watch market for about 25/30K€. Watches thus become no longer tools but jewels: Swiss watchmaking houses are increasingly shifting towards the use of precious metals and sought-after mechanisms, raising customer entry-level prices to 20/30 thousand euros (comes to 7/8 a few years ago). This is also because of the total absorption of the market for ‘technical’ or ‘instrumental’ watches by the tech industry. Suffice it to say that Apple alone sells more watches per year comparing to the entire Swiss industry put together. Apple has recently come out with the first model of diving and hiking smartwatch. It is thus expected a gradual distancing of the Swiss industry from the ‘stainless steel’ to the luxury good in gold and diamonds or platinum (and an overvaluation of the Vintage given the poor availability of some models).
Layoffs, BigTech Crisis and Labour Market
However, very few are those who can afford to buy luxury goods, especially given the drastic increase in layoffs in the world due to the fear of recession and the bear market. In fact, the bear market bogeyman seems to have pushed the American technological giants to fire tens of thousands of workers. However, in the opinion of many analysts, this is not a strange fact, but a healthy and natural evolution of such companies that evidently, after a period of unicorn traction and over-price on the stock market, due to their boom and post-pandemic, begin to become more mature, solid, well-managed and therefore promising companies in the long term (and less volatile). Clearly this is devastating from the point of view of the workers concerned, but only if you think of the world of work in the ‘ancient’ way or the way in which it is necessary to work for a living. As automation is constantly advancing, the future scenario that is now facing with certainty is that of increasingly automated work and the creation of alternative subsidy tools to work such as universal income or UBI (Universal Basic Income). In this sense, Germany has begun working on the creation of a citizenship income to cover the loss of jobs of German citizens. Jobs that probably, in many cases, will not be get back. In contrast to Italy, which abolishes its already precarious citizenship income, but more for ideological reasons it seems and without putting tangible alternatives at the moment. So strong social and humanitarian crises are expected even in the West due to the reticence of the legislators to regularize this practice of “monthly non-repayable survival allowance” by the state to every citizen who will be (in academic circles and among the elité of American entrepreneurs it has already been mentioned for years as the only solution to unemployment from automation) the formula.
Millennials and GenerationZ
Two generations face the world of work. Millennials and GenerazioneZ are the workers/citizens/leaders-politicians/entrepreneurs/investors of the present/future. In order to understand how these generations will approach business, economic, financial, social and political life, we must first consider what we know about them. Of the millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) we know that they are the most educated generation ever. This on the one hand pushes them to think they ‘already know everything’ even when in reality this is not the case. On the other hand, it pushes them to want to distinguish themselves, to want to emerge and to increase their wealth, cognitive, experiential, consumerist and financial. They are also very politicised in different countries of the world, but that is not necessarily why they are recognised in mainstream politics. Of GenerationZ (born between 1997 and 2012) what we know is that they are babies born with the ‘screen in the cradle’. They have never seen a program on television or read a paper newspaper and everything for them exists more in the virtual than in the real one, in the present extemporaneous rather than in the planned future. Social interactions are predominantly mediated between them by the technological medium, via chat (phone calls are considered an invasion). Their private sphere is very wide and the level of comfort they are used to is very high. Their attention lasts no more than 8 seconds and the enjoyment of one content for them is difficult to go beyond 15 minutes. GenerationZ is likely to be renamed CyberGeneration. The next one will continue that trend.
In this perspective, the space for the birth of a new world is foreshadowed, first only imagined in science fiction novels and today already partial reality: the Metaverse. Meta, whose stock is down sharply today due to non-return spending policy, is the most interesting company to look at in this regard. It is in fact creating the platform and the device (i.e. software and hardware) through which all internet users in a medium and long-term time horizon will interface with the network for activities such as working, communicating, socializing, having fun, enjoying entertainment content (including those for adults), playing sports and much more. All from home, in your own comfort zone and without invading your private sphere, in line with the needs of GenerazioneZ. Other companies are chasing Meta in both America and China. Possible mergers are on the horizon in my opinion, so you will have to be careful, but investing in this sector (wide and not mono-company), over a time horizon of 10/15 years, could give very high returns.
Market prospects: crisis/opportunity
In addition to the metaverse and cryptocurrencies today at attractive prices, there are other interesting prospects in the market in my opinion:
EM Asia: The emerging countries of Asia and the Pacific are, according to almost all reports, the driving economies of the coming years followed by Nigeria (still risky and too immature politically).
Health care (home diagnosis and oncology immunology): In the health sector, there are excellent potential results in the medium to long term with regard to DIY diagnostics (home devices connected to the smartphone) and oncology immunology (cancer vaccines).
Pet: A close eye should be given to the sector that concerns pets and everything that revolves around them. In sharp rise and with great future potential.
Bond: Fixed coupon bonds are back. Certainly the most cautious investors will make use of it. Beware, however, to the fact that compared to the Bonds of a few years ago, these have some little more risks. It is therefore better to be cautious and always diversify.
The commitment of the HAP in the world: Ukraine Africa and Afghanistan
Our commitment abroad remains strong on three fronts:
Ukraine: The situation of internal refugees, that is, the people who have been left homeless for the war, is very serious. The most important thing now is for us to intervene not only on a psychological but also socio-economic level. The people, as had been predicted by our report sent to President Draghi last February, have suffered devastating damage on all levels. It is necessary at this time to rehabilitate them psychologically but also to reintegrate them from a social and work point of view. Innovative poles must be created scattered throughout western Ukraine (it is possible that for a period there will be two Ukraines) where IDPs (internal disposable person) can start from scratch in safety and therefore live, work and socialize. Our head of Ukraine Emergency Dr. Viktor Vus now in Kiev is already on the front line on this front and in constant contact with me.
Africa: As far as the African continent is concerned, we have decided to focus on Rwanda and work on supporting adolescent mothers. Girls aged 13 to 18 who got pregnant due to rape or absence of sex education and who now find themselves being minors with minors dependent on them, no economic resources and no education. We will work to improve their conditions. Dr. Ronald Kimuli, head of Human Advisor Project Africa is already operational in this regard and in constant contact with me.
Afghanistan: The situation in Afghanistan is disastrous. There are parents forced to drug their children to make them sleep. There is no food, there is no infrastructure and many have lost their homes as a result of natural disasters. As much as the issue of education is central to us in a country like Afghanistan, as can be seen from our policy paper, we are now focusing first on humanitarian aid. Dr. Noorwali Khpalwak is operating from Paris and we have a team on site in Kabul in constant contact with us led by Dr. Samiullah Ahmadzai.
The next summary report will presumably be published at the end of next year.
Dott. Gianpaolo Marcucci
President of the “Human Advisor Project”
*This text is to be considered a free reflection for study and research purposes. It is not to be considered scientific, commercial or informative material nor does it necessarily represent the thought of Gianpaolo Marcucci or the Human Advisor Project. Any consideration or forecast is considered valid only until the time of publication of this text i.e. November 30, 2022 at 14:00 GMT+1 and no later and may also change completely at any time thereafter. The conclusions reported in it were elaborated following studies and analysis of written, audio, video materials and reports from specialized institutes such as: ISPI, Julius Bär, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bloomberg, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Sole 24 ore, Il fatto Quotidiano. Neither Gianpaolo Marcucci nor the Human Advisor Project is in any way responsible for the actions the reader will take as a result of reading this document. For additional info: Legal Team Human Advisor Project
Author: Gianpaolo Marcucci
Il mondo 🌍 Multipolare
Riflessioni su Economia, Mercato e Società per l’anno a venire*
Lo Human Advisor Project nella persona del presidente Gianpaolo Marcucci propone alcune riflessioni sull’anno che sta per arrivare a partire dall’anno passato. Si raccomanda di leggere la nota disclaimer alla fine del testo. Il report è diviso in brevi e sintetici paragrafi, si prega di richiedere nei commenti se si volesse approfondire uno o più temi tra i sotto riportati in futuri report e articoli. Iniziamo.
L’evoluzione della Globalizzazione
È finita l’epoca dell’occidente come centro del mondo. La tendenza ora dell’occidente sarà quella di considerare il mondo come a due poli, blocco democratico e blocco autoritario. Tuttavia questa sembra essere una definizione eccessivamente semplicistica e ingenua. L’ascesa di potenze alternative ai due blocchi USA-CINA sembra far presagire una evoluzione nella direzione di un mondo multipolare all’interno del quale si proseguiranno gli scambi di risorse e servizi sia tra blocchi che all’interno dei blocchi. Il mercato risentirà del momento di tensione provocato da questo cambiamento, ma alla lunga ne gioverà. Movimenti nazionalisti e populisti potranno sorgere e proliferare temporaneamente nella fase iniziale di questo processo, scontrandosi però con le necessità economiche di unione globale del mercato che li farà maturare e/o perdere terreno nel medio e lungo termine. Notabile anche che ci apprestiamo a raggiungere quota 10 miliardi di persone sul pianeta terra in pochi anni, con tutte le sfide in termini di approvvigionamento di cibo, densità di popolazione, migrazioni, sicurezza, energia e inquinamento che questo porterà.
Cambiamenti climatici e giustizia sociale
Dal Cop27 sono emersi alcuni principali scenari:
Non c’è nessun accordo a livello globale su come ridurre le emissioni.
L’Europa è leader nella regolazione con gli USA che potrebbero soppiantarla già quest’anno.
In questo momento l’attenzione sembra andare sopratutto verso il riequilibrio della giustizia sociale tra paesi sviluppati e emergenti, nella misura in cui i primi dovranno (avrebbero già dovuto?) creare e/o sovvenzionare strumenti di supporto per l’adattamento dei secondi alle attuali condizioni climatiche (provocate principalmente dai primi). L’anno prossimo ci si aspetta un Cop28 più incentrato sulla decarbonizzazione.
Guerra in Ucraina come guerra regionale e non mondiale
La guerra in Ucraina che sembrava sfociare in guerra atomica mondiale nel secondo trimestre del 2022, appare essersi ora stabilizzata come una guerra “regionale” solo europea. Le conseguenze sul resto del mondo sono visibili ma non così tanto come se fosse scoppiata qualche decennio fa. Questo fa riflettere sul ruolo di un’Europa sempre meno centrale a livello mondiale, ovvero sempre più soggetto singolo tra una moltitudine di soggetti, politici, economici e militari, all’interno di un mondo, appunto, multipolare.
La futura guerra monetaria
Dollaro forte, Euro debole, e altre monete in salita. In cantiere la moneta digitale cinese che vuole diventare la principale valuta di scambio dei paesi del BRICS (che vorrebbero incorporare anche Dubai). Tutto questo fermento monetario pare prefigurare una guerra di valute. Tra queste valute, una sicuramente rappresenta la più ambigua eppur interessante: il Bitcoin. Molto in calo rispetto ai massimi dell’anno scorso ma molto in salita rispetto ai suoi livelli pre-covid, con i suoi presupposti ben saldi e le proiezioni ancora molto promettenti sul lungo termine, nonostante la questione mining costoso e inquinante.
Inflazione e Banche Centrali
L’inflazione(al 70% per aumento del costo del cibo e dell’energia a causa della guerra in Ucraina)è il grande temadi questi mesi. La perdita di potere d’acquisto delle famiglie si inizia a far sentire e, mentre in America si parla già di “inizio della fine dell’inflazione”, in Europa, seppur pare che si sia toccato il picco, un’alta inflazione sembrerà restare ancora presente per tutto il 2023, impattando così sul costo della vita ed erodendo i risparmi non investiti ovvero i soldi sui conti correnti dei risparmiatori. A correre ai ripari sono le banche centrali, FED E BCE infatti pare in tal scendo vogliano continuare a usare il pugno duro, alzando i tassi di interesse sul denaro prestato alle banche, che di conseguenza alzano i tassi dei mutui e finanziamenti innescando così una situazione difficile per imprese e cittadini. Al momento le previsioni sull’inflazione non sono rosee per l’Europa. Per correre ai ripari in molti pensano di alleggerire la propria liquidità investendo nel mercato obbligazionario in risalita o acquistando Real Estate, prevalentemente nel settore della “Logistica” e del privato di Lusso (un secco no invece per il settore di immobili commerciali in netta svalutazione dalla pandemia).
È da tutti data come certa una più contenuta crescita nel biennio 2023/2024 con un mercato “orso” o dormiente, o addirittura in leggera flessione in Europa (recessione) e leggerissima o assente in USA. Questo rappresenterebbe uno svantaggio notevole per gli investitori che hanno aperto le loro posizioni su mercato nel 2021 che ora stanno perdendo percentuali a due cifre, ma un vantaggio non indifferente per chi vuole aprirle (sopratutto nell’azionario solido) posizioni nel prossimo anno acquistando sulle debolezze.
Settore del Lusso
La crisi, come sempre, non è sentita dalle fasce più ricche della società, che diventano sempre più ricche e che, anche spinte dall’inflazione, tendono sempre meno a tenere sul conto liquidità e si deliziano, ma a volte anche investono, nel settore del lusso. Seppur in calo rispetto all’anno scorso a causa della guerra in Ucraina, ancora oggi acquistare un Rolex significa raddoppiare se non triplicare il proprio investimento al momento esatto dell’acquisto. Infatti un Daytona Acciaio acquistato oggi a 12mila€ da quell’elité che ha accesso alle liste di attesa dei rivenditori, si può scambiare nel mercato grigio degli orologi per circa 25/30 mila€. Gli orologi diventano così non più strumenti ma gioielli: le case svizzere di orologeria si stanno sempre più spostando verso l’uso dei metalli preziosi e di meccanismi ricercati, alzando i prezzi di entry level della clientela a 20/30 mila euro (contro i 7/8 di qualche anno fa e in Italia qualche milione di Lire di un tempo). Questo anche per il totale assorbimento del mercato degli orologi “tecnici” o “strumentali” da parte dell’industria Tech. Basti pensare che Apple da sola vende all’anno più orologi dell’intera industria svizzera messa insieme. Apple è uscito da poco con il primo modello di smartwatch da immersione ed escursione. Si prevede così un distanziamento graduale dell’industria svizzera dallo “strumentale in acciaio” verso il bene di lusso in oro e diamanti o platino (e una supervalutazione del Vintage data la scarsa reperibilità di alcuni modelli).
Licenziamenti, Crisi del BigTech e mercato del lavoro
Pochissimi sono comunque coloro che possono permettersi di acquistare beni di lusso, sopratutto visto anche l’aumento drastico di licenziamenti nel mondo dovuto alla paura della recessione e del mercato orso. Proprio lo spauracchio del Bear Market infatti pare aver spinto i colossi tecnologici americani a licenziare decine di migliaia dei lavoratori. Questo a parere di molti analisti non rappresenta tuttavia una fatto strano, bensì un’evoluzione sana e naturale di tali compagnie che evidentemente, dopo un periodo di trazione da unicorno e di sovra-prezzamento in borsa dei titoli, dovuto al loro boom e al post pandemia, iniziano a divenire compagnie più mature, solide, ben gestite e quindi promettenti sul lungo termine (e meno volatili). Chiaramente questo è devastante dal punto dei vista dei lavoratori interessati, ma solo se si pensa al mondo del lavoro alla maniera “antica” ovvero alla maniera per cui sia necessario lavorare per vivere. Essendo l’automazione in continuo avanzamento, lo scenario futuro che si prospetta ormai con certezza è quello di un lavoro sempre più automatizzato e della creazione di strumenti di sussidio alternativi al lavoro come il reddito universale o UBI (Universal Basic Income). In questo senso la Germania, economica europea di traino, ha iniziato i lavori per la creazione di un reddito di cittadinanza a copertura della perdita dei posti di lavoro dei cittadini tedeschi. Posti di lavoro che probabilmente, in molti casi non verranno ritrovati. In controtendenza l’Italia che abolisce il suo già precario reddito di cittadinanza, ma più per ragioni ideologiche pare e senza porre alternative tangibili al momento. Si prevedono così forti crisi sociali e umanitarie anche in occidente a causa della reticenza dei legislatori a regolarizzare tale pratica di “assegno mensile di sopravvivenza a fondo perduto” da parte dello stato ad ogni cittadino che sarà (negli ambienti accademici e tra l’elitè di imprenditori americani se ne parla già da anni come unica soluzione alla disoccupazione da automazione) la formula del futuro accanto all’automazione quasi-totale del lavoro.
Millennials e Generazione Z
Due generazioni si affacciano al mondo del lavoro. Millennials e GenerazioneZ sono i lavoratori/cittadini/leader-politici/imprenditori/investitori del presente/futuro. Per comprendere come queste si approcceranno alla vita aziendale, economica, finanziaria, sociale e politica va considerato innanzitutto ciò che sappiamo di loro. Dei millennials (nati tra 1981 e 1996) sappiamo che sono la generazione più scolarizzata di sempre. Questo da un lato li spinge a pensare di “sapere già tutto” anche quando in realtà non è così. Dall’altro li spinge a volersi distinguere, a voler emergere e ad aumentare il proprio patrimonio, conoscitivo, esperienziale, consumistico e finanziario. Sono inoltre molto politicizzati in diversi paesi del mondo ma non per questo necessariamente si riconoscono nella politica mainstream. Della GenerazioneZ (nati tra 1997 e 2012) ciò che sappiamo è che sono bambini nati con lo “schermo nella culla”. Non hanno mai visto un programma in televisione o letto un giornale cartaceo e tutto per loro esiste più nel virtuale che nel reale, nell’estemporaneo presente più che nel futuro programmato. Le interazioni sociali sono tra di loro prevalentemente mediate dal mezzo tecnologico, via chat (le telefonate sono considerate un invasione di campo). La loro sfera privata è molto ampia e il livello di confort a cui sono abituati molto alto. Il loro span di attenzione dura non più 8 secondi e la fruizione di contenuti per loro è difficile che vada oltre i 15 minuti. La generazioneZ sarà probabilmente ribattezzata la CyberGeneration. Quella successiva proseguirà tale tendenza.
In quest’ottica si prefigura lo spazio per la nascita di un nuovo mondo, dapprima solo immaginato nei romanzi di fantascienza e oggi già parziale realtà: il Metaverso. Meta, il cui titolo oggi è in forte calo a causa della politica di spesa senza rientro, è l’azienda più interessante da guardare in questo senso. Essa sta infatti creando la piattaforma e il device (ovvero il software e l’hardware) attraverso i quali tutti gli utenti internet in un orizzonte temporale a medio e lungo termine si interfacceranno alla rete per attività quali lavorare, comunicare, socializzare, divertirsi, fruire contenuti di intrattenimento (compresi quelli per adulti), fare sport e molto altro. Tutto da casa propria, nella propria zona di confort e senza invadere la propria sfera privata, in linea con le esigenze della GenerazioneZ. Altre compagnie stanno rincorrendo Meta sia in America che in Cina. Possibili fusioni sono all’orizzonte a mio avviso, bisognerà quindi essere cauti, ma investire in tale comparto (ampio e non mono-aziendale), su un orizzonte temporale di 10/15 anni, potrebbe dare rendimenti molto alti.
Le prospettive del Mercato, crisi/opportunità
Oltre al metaverso e le criptovalute oggi a prezzi appetibili, ci sono altre prospettive interessanti sul mercato a mio avviso:
EM asia: I paesi emergenti di Asia e Pacifico sono, secondo quasi tutti i report, le economiche di traino dei prossimi anni seguite dalla Nigeria (ancora rischiosa e troppo immatura politicamente).
Health care (home diagnostic e immunologia oncologica): Nel settore sanitario, si registrano ottimi risultati potenziali nel medio-lungo per quanto concerne la diagnostica fai da te (dispositivi casalinghi collegati allo smartphone) e l’immunologia oncologica (vaccini per il cancro).
Pet: Un occhio attento va dato al settore che riguarda gli animali da compagnia e tutto ciò che vi gira intorno. In netto rialzo e con grandi potenzialità future.
Bond: Sono tornate le obbligazioni con cedola fissa. Di sicuro gli investitori più cauti ne faranno uso. Attenzione però al fatto che rispetto ai Bond di qualche anno fa, questi hanno qualche piccolo rischio in più. Meglio essere quindi cauti e sempre diversificare.
L’impegno dell’HAP: Ucraina Africa e Afghanistan
Il nostro impegno all’estero rimane forte su tre fronti:
Ucraina: La situazione dei rifugiati interni, ovvero le persone che per la guerra sono rimaste senza casa, è gravissima. La cosa più importante adesso è per noi intervenire non solo a livello psicologico ma anche socio-economico. Le persone, come era stato previsto dal nostro rapporto mandato a Febbraio scorso al presidente Draghi, hanno subito un danno devastante su tutti i piani. E’ necessario in questo momento riabilitarle psicologicamente ma anche reintegrarle dal punto di vista sociale e lavorativo. Vanno creati dei un poli innovativi sparsi per l’Ucraina occidentale (è possible che per un periodo esisteranno due Ucraine) dove gli IDPs (internal disposable person) possano ripartire da zero in sicurezza e quindi abitare, lavorare e socializzare. Il nostro responsabile della Ukraine Emergency Dr. Viktor Vus ora a Kiev è già in prima linea su questo fronte e in costante contatto con me.
Africa: Per quanto concerne il continente Africano, abbiamo deciso di concentrarci sul Rwanda e lavorare sul supporto alle madri adolescenti. Ragazze dai 13 ai 18 anni che sono rimaste in cinta a causa di stupri o di assenza di educazione sessuale e che ora si ritrovano ad essere minori con minori a loro carico, nessuna risorsa economica e scarsa o nessuna educazione. Lavoreremo per migliorare le loro condizioni. Dr. Ronald Kimuli, head of Human Advisor Project Africa è già operativo in questo senso e in costante contatto con me.
Afghanistan: In Afghanistan la situazione è disastrosa. Ci sono genitori costretti a drogare i figli per farli dormire. Non c’è cibo, non ci sono infrastrutture e in molti hanno perso la casa a seguito di disastri naturali. Per quanto il tema dell’educazione sia per noi centrale in un paese come l’Afghanistan, come si evince dal nostro documento programmatico, ci stiamo concentrando per ora sull’aiuto umanitario. Dr. Noorwali Khpalwak è operativo da Parigi e abbiamo una squadra in loco a Kabul in costante contatto con noi guidata dal Dr. Samiullah Ahmadzai.
Il prossimo rapporto riassuntivo sarà pubblicato presumibilmente alla fine del prossimo anno.
Cordialità Vivissime al lettore e forza di cuore a tutti.
Dott. Gianpaolo Marcucci
Presidente dello “Human Advisor Project”
*Questo testo è da considerarsi una libera riflessione a scopo di studio e ricerca. Non è da considerarsi materiale scientifico, commerciale o divulgativo né rappresenta necessariamente il pensiero di Gianpaolo Marcucci o dello Human Advisor Project. Ogni considerazione o previsione è ritenuta valida solo fino al momento della pubblicazione di questo testo ovvero il 30 novembre 2022 alle ore 14:00 GMT+1 e non oltre e potrebbe cambiare anche totalmente in qualsiasi momento da allora. Le conclusioni riportate in esso sono state elaborate a seguito dell’ascolto, la lettura, lo studio e l’analisi di materiali scritti, audio, video e report di istituti specializzati quali: ISPI, Julius Bär, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bloomberg, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Sole 24 ore, Il fatto Quotidiano. Né Gianpaolo Marcucci né lo Human Advisor Project è in alcun modo responsabile delle azioni che il lettore intraprenderà a seguito della lettura in qualsiasi campo. Per info aggiuntive: Legal Team Human Advisor Project
Author: Gianpaolo Marcucci
Human Advisor Stories
Here we present our Human Advisor Stories, the stories of those people we choose to represent our spirit in their being excellence in their field around the world. Science, Human Rights, Art, Culture, Politics, Religion, All the sphere of the Human Being is admitted. To share your story you can send a request here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For 2023 we have chosen Naelia (Eliana Antonia Tumminelli) a music artist who brings with here a message of peace.
Here’s her story:
Compositrice colorata, infanzia nel giardino degli aranci, dove nascono i fiori, e adolescenza a San Lorenzo dove hanno trasformato i palazzi in cenere, faremo rinascere i fiori in questo inverno… Di questi tempi è difficile usare le parole e il coraggio, ma mi sono svegliata con una fitta nel petto e ho scritto questo brano. Spero che la genuinità dei bambini possa essere coscienza dei ”grandi”.
Eliana Tumminelli, aka NaElia, singer-songwriter, dancer and performer, was born in Catania on 20-06-1989. As a child she takes her bags and moves from her land to Rome to study and cultivate her passion for dance, music and art. Eclectic his artistic training, from theater, to music, to dance, graduated from the National Academy of Dance in Rome.
On July 1, 2004 she was awarded the International Professionalism Prize “Rocca D’Oro di Serrone”, as a young talent, receiving the sculpture by Ambrosetti.
In 2008 she self-produced her first album-promo È Senza Senso
Already among the six finalists, of which only three have access, to participate in the RAI (National Italian Television) Xfactor 4^ TV Talent show, Magnolia production, 80,000 presences.
Ettore Maria Garozzo photo
Here’s her last album
Here’s her Spotify Page
Italian Youth Deviance Intervention
The Ministers of Internal Affairs and Justice, with Transcrime Research Center and Sacro Cuore University made a wonderful job in studying and reporting the presence and activity of baby gangs in Italy.
With the Scentific Committee of the Human Advisor Project we decide to activate a program of intervention about this phenomenon, working of what we elaborated could be the most important cause: Italian Young Generation is completely lost and not listened to, from years.
For that, our program aims to get in touch with young generations in difficult areas, mix with them, get to know them, listen to them (focusing on the North-East of Italy) and better understand the phenomenon and the possible intervention that need to be implemented, mostly about education but also about education to self-awareness, compassion, mindfulness and emotional intelligence, making them aware of the world they are creating for themselves and help them to face the uncertainty of this historic moment.
The program is not public because of safety reasons. Results will be published in the next two years.
Our “in-country” interventions in Afghanistan
Here’s some videos about our action inside the country. To help us please:
Make a Donation!
How to prevent the next pandemic (ENG)
After two years of pandemic, Bill Gates delivers a book that in about three hundred pages can serve as both a warning and a handbook for the future. How to prevent the next pandemic, published on 3 May by the Allen Lane publishing house, has been the talk of the town since its release. The Coronavirus pandemic, in fact, has not yet died out and continues to plague governments around the world with its social, political, health and economic implications, but Mr. Gates is already looking to the future, trying to find an answer to the existential question that also gives this book its title ‘How can we prevent the next pandemic?
The Microsoft founder is firmly convinced – and personally, after reading his book, I find myself agreeing with him – that by learning from the current pandemic and implementing a series of strategies for the future, we can avoid the outbreak of a global health crisis like the one caused by Covid-19.
Based on the shared views of the world’s leading experts and his own experience fighting deadly diseases through the Gates Foundation, in How to prevent the next pandemic Bill Gates clearly and convincingly sets out the importance of being better prepared for the spread of new viruses.
The book consists of nine chapters plus an Introduction and an Afterword, the core of which revolves around the idea that while epidemics are inevitable, pandemics are optional. The world, therefore, in Gates’ thinking should not live in fear of the next pandemic, but should make the right investments for the benefit of all, with a view to making Covid-19 the last pandemic ever.
As many will recall, Bill and Melinda Gates have been committed to fighting the virus from the earliest days, collaborating with experts inside and outside the Gates Foundation who have been fighting infectious diseases for decades. This commitment inevitably led Mr. Gates to reflect on many factors in the pandemic response that could have been faster and more efficient.
Starting with the fact that respiratory viruses, including influenza and coronaviruses, are particularly dangerous because they spread very quickly, Bill Gates explains that the likelihood of a pandemic striking the world is steadily increasing; partly because human beings with urbanisation are encroaching on countless natural habitats and, as a result, interacting with animals more often, creating the conditions that allow a disease to pass from animal to human. In addition to this, another key point to consider is the lack of technical preparedness that all countries around the world have generally shown in responding to the virus. Back in 2015, during a speech at the TED conference entitled “The next epidemic? We’re not ready”, Gates had emphasised the importance of planning for all kinds of scenarios – from vaccine research to the training of health workers – to prevent the outbreak of increasingly dangerous viruses. Reflecting this importance, How to Prevent the Next Pandemic sets out how governments, scientists, companies and individuals can build a system capable of containing the inevitable outbreaks so that they do not turn into pandemics. Specifically, each chapter of the book explains a different step to take in order to be ready, and together, all these steps form a plan to eliminate future pandemics and reduce the likelihood that society will have to go through another Covid-19.
The first chapter traces the importance of learning from the pandemic caused by Covid-19. The starting point is swift action. It is no coincidence that many of the countries that experienced low excess mortality – Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand, South Korea – at the start of the pandemic quickly tested a large portion of the population, abruptly isolated individuals who tested positive and those who had been exposed to the virus, and put in place a plan to track, monitor, and manage cases that crossed their borders. Of course, Gates explains, just as some countries show us what to do and how to act, others show us the opposite. Not everyone did the right thing. Some people refused to wear a mask or vaccinate. Some politicians have denied the seriousness of the disease and avoided implementing the necessary closures to stop the spread of the virus.
Another fundamental point, repeatedly emphasised by the author, is that investing in innovation today will pay off in the future. In this regard, in the second chapter Gates emphasises the importance of putting in place a global body of experts whose task is to study how to respond to diseases that could kill thousands of people. Simply put, the world has never before invested in the mechanisms needed to prevent future pandemics and now is the time to do so.
Today, there are many organisations working to respond to pandemics, the best known being the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) which does heroic work but does not have the personnel, funds or global mandate to deal with any threat.
What Bill Gates therefore advocates is the creation of a permanent organisation of experts, fully paid and prepared to organise, at any time, a coordinated response to any dangerous outbreak. Mr. Gates proposes to call this group GERM – Global Epidemic Response and Mobilisation – and to fill it with experts from all over the world with a wide range of expertise (epidemiology, genetics, diplomacy, logistics, computer models, communication, etc.) who, when not actively working in the field, are based in the public health agencies of individual countries, in the regional offices of the WHO, and at the headquarters in Geneva.
Several times throughout the book, Gates explains how the most important job of this team would be to help run epidemic response exercises to see if the world is ready for the next big pandemic. However, GERM’s impact would not be limited to stopping pandemics, the group would also improve overall health worldwide, especially in poorer countries.
Another important part of prevention is to study and constantly monitor the spread of different viruses. Indeed, with the right investment and preparation, we will be able to rapidly test large numbers of people during an epidemic in the future. A rapid and efficient response is inevitably linked to the development of digital data collection systems so that public health offices can keep abreast of the situation in their communities, as well as the ability of governments around the world to establish working relationships with infectious disease experts from both the public and private sectors.
In the fourth chapter, the author explores an issue that has plagued countless countries and governments over the past two pandemic years: the need to teach and help people to protect themselves and others. The most useful way we can all do our part is through so-called ‘non-pharmaceutical inventions’ – NPIs – (masks, sanitisers, lockdowns, etc.). The irony of NPIs is that the more useful and effective they are, the easier they are to criticise. However, as our recent past shows, lockdowns – for example – have allowed the world’s economies to recover faster, simply by forcing people to stay indoors and thus saving lives. Of course, not everything that governments have implemented during the current pandemic has been right, nor will it be necessary in the future to repeat every single action taken in the fight against Covid-19. In particular, Gates focuses on the closure of schools, emphasising that schools will not need to be closed for extended periods of time in the future, especially if the world community is able to provide vaccines for everyone within six months.
However, what works for one place or country does not necessarily work for another. Lockdowns are a clear example of this disparity. As explained by the author, social distancing and lockdowns work more for wealthier countries and neighbourhoods; this is because wealthier people tend to work jobs that do not require them to travel and go out to work and because they can afford to stay indoors. Consequently, just as it is important to develop and implement the study of new vaccines, new tests for infectious diseases, and new treatments, it is equally important to work on the inequalities that afflict the global community and that, consequently, slow down the fight against future pandemics. Both locally and globally. A further recurring theme of the book is that the global community does not have to choose between preventing future pandemics or implementing global health: these are in fact mutually reinforcing. The greatest medical breakthrough of this pandemic – and one of the most important in recent decades – was the creation of vaccines against Covid-19. One study found that in the first year they saved more than 1 million lives and prevented 10 million hospitalisations in the US alone. The creation and distribution of the vaccines has been quite rapid, yet there are a number of problems that need to be solved before the next potential pandemic arrives, such as the huge disparity between those who have been vaccinated and those who have not. It is important to remember that the speed with which the vaccines against Covid-19 were implemented depends largely on a matter of ‘luck’. In fact, coronaviruses had already caused two previous outbreaks (SARS and MERS), allowing scientists to learn a great deal about the structure of the virus. In particular, the scientific community – before 2020 – had already identified Covid’s characteristic spike protein – the crown-like spikes of the virus of which countless images have been disseminated – as a potential target for vaccines, so when it came time to create new vaccines, scientists suddenly realised which part of the virus was most vulnerable to attack. In the next outbreak,’ Mr Gates warns us, ‘we might not be so lucky. It could be caused by a virus that scientists have not yet studied.
That is why, according to the author, the global community must adopt a serious plan for the development, production and distribution of new vaccines to prevent another pandemic. However, it is good to keep in mind the difficulty and especially the high costs of such processes. Production alone is a huge challenge: to avoid the inequalities we have seen in Covid-19, the world will have to be able to produce enough vaccines for everyone on the planet within six months of the discovery of a new pathogen (around 8 billion doses for a single-dose vaccine and 16 billion for a two-dose version). To do this, Bill Gates proposes – in chapter six – a four-step plan, starting with accelerating the invention of new vaccines.
All this inevitably requires a lot of practice. ‘Practice, practice, practice’, not surprisingly, is how the author wanted to call the next chapter, in which he advocates a series of simulation plans for the future that will help the global community prevent future pandemics from breaking out. So, just as countless governments spend millions on military exercises, so too should they in the future invest in health exercises that will make us all better prepared should another virus spread. Such exercises will not only be useful in preventing further pandemics, but will also help governments to be prepared in the event of a bioterrorist attack (which is the deliberate use of biological agents – such as viruses, bacteria or toxins – in actions against public safety). The very possibility of a bioterrorism attack is one of the reasons why governments around the world should invest more money in research, study and prevention of diseases that can ‘go global’. Inevitably, investments of public money – as well as the ability to cope with crises – are easier and more possible in richer countries, which greatly contributes to widening inequalities between developed and undeveloped or developing countries. In this regard, Mr. Gates proposes for the immediate future to start decreasing the gaps between rich and poor countries, especially in the area of public health since “where we live and how much money we have determines the chances we have of dying young or becoming wealthy adults”. Narrowing the gaps between wealthier and poorer countries not only helps to eliminate inequities in health and healthcare, but also helps to prevent the spread of new pandemics. Thus, both rich and poor countries benefit.
In conclusion, Bill Gates reminds us that investing public money in planning and preventing new pandemics will make people healthier, save lives and reduce the health gap between rich and poor, even when the world is not actually facing an active epidemic. How to prevent the next pandemic is therefore a handbook, an opportunity not only to prevent things from getting worse, but also to make them better. “We must not give up,” says Mr Gates, “living in perpetual fear of another global catastrophe. But we must be aware of this possibility and be willing to do something about it. I hope the world seizes this moment and invests in the necessary steps to make Covid-19 the last pandemic’.
Personally, I found reading this book extremely interesting, but above all enlightening. Reading How to prevent the next pandemic made me realise how many things are often taken for granted nowadays, especially for people like me who live in developed countries. From the distribution of vaccines to the possibility of finding sanitary devices or swabs, everything is easier if we just leave the house and walk a few metres to find a pharmacy. The Covid-19 pandemic affected every country in the world without distinction, but the ability of governments to respond to it was inevitably related to the type of country (rich or poor, developed or underdeveloped). I believe, therefore, that reading this handbook – as it should be read – can be extremely useful, both for individuals and for governments themselves.