A New Sustainable Recovery Approach to guide policymakers, a paper with Muhammad Yunus

By November 12, 2021News

Prof. Muhammad Yunus, Prof. Mario Biggeri, and Prof. Enrico Testi, in their latest paper titled “Social Economy and Social Business Supporting Policies for Sustainable Human Development in a Post‐COVID‐19 World” present a New Sustainable Recovery Approach (NSRA) to guide policymakers to rethink socio‐economic actions for sustainable human development leveraging the strengths of the social economy and social business.

The article (now freely accessible online) was published on the special issue of the journal Sustainability titled “Social Businesses and Social Entrepreneurship in the Face of Sustainable Development Challenges” and edited by Carlos Lopez-Gutierrez, Ana Fernandez-Laviada and Andrea Pérez from the Yunus Center Cantabria.

The COVID-19 pandemic is providing us a real opportunity to change the ways everyone lives, consumes and produces. Before restarting the economy, though, a critical question should be addressed: what kind of economy and society do we wish to build?  A “market society” or a society where exchanges are regulated also by reciprocity and redistribution? The objective of this paper is, therefore, to provide policymakers a new perspective based on Social Economy and Social Business (SE&SB) when drafting policies steering development strategies to overcome the Covid-19 crises and, more broadly, towards greater sustainability.


The Main Components of a New Sustainable Recovery Approach

The first component of the NSRA is the Sustainable Human Development (SHD). SHD can be defined as a process of promotion and expansion of human capabilities where the term ‘sustainable’ refers to economic, environmental, and social sustainability. SHD is both the final objective policy makers should pursue, as well as an approach that should engage all actors involved in the development process (governments, businesses, citizens, etc.).

The second component of the NSRA is the Transformative Education and Research for individual and collective learning processes. It refers to the orientation of the educational and research systems towards the social-technical transformation of social-economic systems to meet social needs and promote sustainable and inclusive societies generating learning among different types of stakeholders.

The third component is the Enhanced Social and Environmental Consciousness and Behaviour (ESECB). It refers to the scenario in which people are both knowledgeable about social and environmental issues and adopt pro-social and pro-environmental behaviours. This is an underlying component to the previous two and, at the same time, it works to strengthen and steer their actions.

Without this third component, we would not have enough choices and behaviours capable of supporting sustainable development processes or transformative research and education.

All three components are interrelated through positive feedback loops. This means that reaching a higher dissemination level of one component positively affects the other two. Vice versa, if the range of action of one component shrinks, it narrows also the other two.

In the final part of the paper, the authors formulate policy recommendations to support the development of the Social Economy and Social Business to create synergies and to generate a transformative process.


“… things are never as complicated as they seem. It is only our arrogance that prompts us to find unnecessarily complicated answers to simple problems”.

Muhammad Yunus


To read the paper, you can click here.