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Diving into the future: is the shared economy an answer?

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My daughter asked for a crystal ball for her birthday.  She wanted to know what life would be like when she grows up. Driven by my parental instinct to protect, I described to her a bright “pink” world of tomorrow which may never exist.  

Earlier this month, we hosted Robin Chase at the Innovation Labs of the World Bank, the author of Peer, Inc. She painted a very vivid vision of what the word could be like by 2050 due to expected temperature increase around the Globe. 

Picture this: in the last Ice Age, which was 20,000+ years ago, the temperature was -4C (-7F) from today’s average. Europe and North America were covered under kilometers of ice. It’s scary to think of the world when temperatures would rise by 5-6C. Earlier this year in Paris, 195 governments agreed to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. The question now is how quickly we can get there and the world is looking for answers.

Filled with fascinating examples of “companies on steroids” such as Airbnb, Couchsurfing, Dualingo, Waze and others, Robin’s talk showed us that there is hope if “we speed up the evolution to avoid revolution”.  Platforms like this, made possible thanks to recent technological advances, are facilitating collaboration between Peers (us, the people) and the "Inc" (corporations).  As “The infrastructure we build over the next four years will determine the fate of the humans.”  Her talk was scary, but it also gave me hope.

The way we approach the development of the transport sector, particularly in our client countries, will have huge impacts on the world of tomorrow.  The answer may lie in our increased ability to avoid empty cargo trucks on the roads and “one passenger per car” scenarios. Regulators will need to be ahead of time and set up regulations to stimulate “sharing of excess capacity”, nicely described in Robin’s book Peer, Inc., and be prepared for the future which is already here today with Google and Tesla running successful experiments of driverless vehicles.  These and other issues have just been discussed at Transport Work Day, organized ahead of Climate Action 2016. I am honored to work for the World Bank, which shows full commitment to the climate change agenda.

I can now go back to my 8 year old and describe a future world, where people leverage the excess capacity of assets that they already have (homes, cars, tools, knowledge, passion) to create a shared economy by applying the principles of open platforms, collaboration, multi-multi-purposing and “turning scarcity into abundance”. 


Luda Bujoreanu

Senior Program Officer, ID4D initiative

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