A new economy: the youth’s proposal
“The economy of Francesco”. A year ago, it would probably have been described as an event called by Pope Francis. Today, however, after a year of journeying and working in groups, it is more than that; it is an active process of change, to give the economy a new soul.
In recent days, the movement made up of young economists, entrepreneurs and change-makers known as “The economy of Francesco” has gained public attention. We are getting closer to the date of the online meeting that will lay the foundations for a rethinking of the economy by this generation, with care for the environment and for the poor at its core. An economy in which no one is left behind.
With these values in mind, which were already present in the Laudato Si’ encyclical, and drawing from the spirituality of Saint Francis of Assisi, in May 2019 Pope Francis called on all young people around the world who are committed to building a new economy to join forces and strike a covenant. Two thousand of them, from 120 countries, were selected to take part in the event that was scheduled to take place in Assisi, Italy, in March this year, but was postponed due to health concerns.
The global pandemic was not able to stop the enthusiasm and the efforts of many young people who organised preparatory meetings and hands-on activities where they live, with the aim of questioning the current economic system and come up with creative solutions for the future. More than 300 events worldwide paved the way for this global movement.
The journey did not just involve local events. Following the news that the Assisi event would be postponed, young participants split up into twelve thematic ‘villages’ that, by combining multiple current and global economic issues, aimed to challenge conventional thought. To name but a few: Finance and Humanity, Policies and Happiness, Work and Care, Agriculture and Justice. Each village provided a space for training and for the proposal of solutions to major economic issues. “A cross-cutting theme across many of the villages was the idea that care should play a central role in society and the economy, as the key to shape the future, along with the need for a more feminine outlook and an increased participation of women for a more inclusive economy and finance. The young people are not just guests anymore, they are becoming protagonists, they are showing a sense of responsibility, innovative ideas, and an ability to dialogue across the five continents: they are the present (and not just the future) that we need to listen to”, explains Sister Alessandra Smerilli, a member of the Scientific Committee of The economy of Francesco.
Pope Francis himself recently declared in his video message addressed to the 75th meeting of the United Nations General Assembly: “We never emerge from a crisis just as we were. We come out either better or worse. This is why, at this critical juncture, it is our duty to rethink the future of our common home and our common project”. These words encouraged the proposal of new solutions, which will soon be presented to the Pope as a way of committing to work.
A meeting for everyone
The online edition of the event “The Economy of Francesco” will take place from 19th to 21st November. It will not be limited to the 2,000 young people who were selected last year, instead it will be open to everyone. Participation will be possible through local hubs. Hubs will allow young people to meet and follow the online programme from the areas where they live. In addition, throughout the three days of the event, every hub will offer a local programme that will run alongside the global one. A list of the hubs can be found here.
The online programme will also include sessions that complete and go more in depth into the economic background of the movement. One of these, for example, is the session entitled “A tu per tu con Francesco” (Face to face with Saint Francis), which will give participants the opportunity to connect with the town of Assisi and the most significant places in the life of Saint Francis, which will provide inspiration and insight into the topics discussed. “The economy of Francesco has become the vastest movement of young economists and entrepreneurs in the world. It is building a global spiritual capital that the economy is in extreme need of (…). Building a green economy is not enough to achieve an economy of Francesco. We also need to include the poor, to put young people at the forefront, to cultivate inner life”, said the Scientific Director of The economy of Francesco, Luigino Bruni, in the latest press conference held in the Vatican.
During the event there will be artistic performances, sessions dedicated to raising awareness of the issues at stake, work sessions, etc. A non-stop 24-hour live broadcast is scheduled for the second day, ending on the third day with Pope Francis’s address to the young economists.
Those wishing to attend the broadcast can do so through the official website: www.francescoeconomy.org.
Although the online event ends on 21st November, the process goes on. The covenant will only be the beginning of an even greater commitment to work towards “a different kind of economy: one that brings life not death, one that is inclusive and not exclusive, humane and not dehumanizing, one that cares for the environment and does not despoil it” (from the letter by the Holy Father for the event “Economy of Francesco”).