By Christopher Wells
“The Economy of Francesco is a really innovative event,” says Si Chun Lam, one of the young people taking part in the meeting.
Pope Francis, he says, is hoping that the young economists, entrepreneurs and change makers, as well as some of the world’s leading minds that have been invited to take part in the event will “come up with some ideas for the global economy that serves all humanity and all creation.”
Listening to young people
In an interview with Vatican News, Si Chun says, “What’s really quite special” about the Economy of Francesco “is that, instead of having the leading minds teach and lecture us, they’re invited here to listen. They’re listening to our ideas as young people… about our ideas to transform the global economy.”
Reflecting on happiness and human flourishing
The participants of the event have been grouped into twelve thematic “villages” dealing with topics such as finance, the economy, women, and family.
Si Chun took part in the Policies and Happiness Village, which focused on individual and social welfare, relations in families, communities and cities. In the lead up to the final meeting, members of the Policies and Happiness Village learned about, shared, and debated ideas “about what makes our life full of purpose, how our current economic models can hinder and limit our ability to fully prosper.”
After “many hours” online and in Zoom chats “developing and nurturing those ideas and offshoots into practical proposals,” says Si Chun, the group “met” in October to choose their “very, very best ideas” to bring to the main event.”
Inspired by penguins
Si Chun says his Village’s ideas are “about how we can really invest in relationships, invest in spending that time to build and nurture relationships to create the flourishing new global economy where everybody can take part.”
The first, he says, was inspired by penguins.
“Why penguins?” he asks, admitting that the idea sounds “a bit strange.”
He explains that penguins are “able to build sustainable colonies that don’t just survive, but they thrive in the most inhospitable and challenging environments. And that actually teaches us as humanity a lesson about how we can build thriving small to medium cities where we can be better connected to each other, and also to creation.”
Maps that include rather than divide
The group’s second idea focuses on mapping, and turning the very idea of maps on its head. On a normal map one sees boundary lines that divide people and place from one another.
“Our proposal turns this around, by using maps in an inclusive way to draw up what connects us,” says Si Chun. “It creates a bit of a narrative where it’s about unity in place of division.”
Helping future generations flourish
Finally, Si Chun says the Village wanted to find ways to promote human flourishing by encouraging decision makers “to support policies that ensure future generations can flourish.” This, he says, means looking beyond the concrete, present realities, like the gross domestic project; and even going beyond broader notions such as human development, and instead “looking to the future.”
It involves “nourishing things that protect the future. Like nature. Like beauty. Like curiosity. And like being able to dream about the future, and of course things like equality and participation as well,” Si Chun says.
Passionate about making the world a better place
Si Chun says the experience of the Economy of Francesco has helped him gain “a bit of a network and connection with other like-minded individuals around the world who are also really passionate about how we can make the world a better place.”
He also notes the “prayerful” and “positive” atmosphere of the event, saying he and the other participants were able to really reflect on the words of the Gospel and the Bible, as well as the encyclicals of Pope Francis.
“So, really I think that’s what I really gained,” he says, “that bit of network, that prayerful approach and that bit of positivity and hope in quite a difficult time with the pandemic and everything as well.”