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Soft healthcare solutions
To curb increasing healthcare expenditures, we often turn to ‘hard’ solutions: using more technology and data, and investing more in hospitals, medicine development, and the training of medical practitioners. However, softer solutions aimed at changing our habits could also have genuine healthcare effects. Many chronic diseases (such as obesity and diabetes) are related to our diets and lifestyle. Studies indicate that a plant-based diet could lead to lower obesity and mortality rates, as well as lower the risk of chronic diseases. A fixed daily rhythm and regular sleeping pattern also result in health benefits. To “nudge” habits and predispositions that stimulate healthy behavior, governments can take action. For instance, by taxing unhealthy food (e.g. sugar, tobacco, meat) and by investing in infrastructure that promotes a more active and outdoor lifestyle. Examples include subsidizing bicycle lanes or building parks that can serve as exercising grounds. With a holistic perspective on health and wellbeing, these ‘soft’ solutions help us to not only to shift from cure to prevention, but also from prevention to health promotion.
Macron’s European leadership ambitions
Recently, European leaders met in Paris to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. The memorial came at a time when, similar to the run up to the Great War, nationalism is spreading across the continent. In addition, Europe is facing the external threat of a new geopolitical reality, with President Trump threatening to pull out of NATO. In a speech, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that only a more sovereign and united Europe can guarantee security and peace. He called for a “real European army”, an idea that was backed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. To also counter external threats in cyberspace, Macron launched a global cyber arms pact, the Paris Call. The pact aims to reduce foreign influence and was backed by more than 50 states, including all E.U. member countries, but not by the U.S., Russia and China. However, Macron’s ambitions may be hard to realize, as he is under pressure in his own country and his political partner Merkel has announced her final term as Chancellor.
Demand for impact investment is on the rise, especially among Millennials and Gen Z. Being the best-educated generations yet, they are more knowledgeable about societal, economic and political issues. Moreover, through impact investing they wish to invest in a better world and see proof of the results of their investments. Measurability, however, is still one of the core challenges of impact investment. Nevertheless, the implementation of new technologies such as wirelessly connected sensors and publicly available satellite imagery pave the way for more insights in the environmental and social rate of return of impact investments. For instance, Land Life Company uses sensors, artificial intelligence and app-based monitoring to demonstrate the impact of its reforestation efforts. In addition, blockchain applications are creating transparency in impact investments. The NRGcoin for example, is a solution based on blockchain technology that gives incentives for and insights into renewable energy production. These two examples indicate how insight in impact, in addition to financial performance, could convince Millennials and Gen Z’s to come on board with impact investments.