Centriq - News & Views

Europe: Time and Time Again on a Perpetual Transformation Journey

May 9th holds a special significance in Europe as a day dedicated to unity and peace. Europe, to me, is a space where we come together as distinct individuals while enjoying a sense of familiarity that allows for a continuous present. In encounters with individuals from other cultures, we must invest time in getting acquainted. Whereas with fellow Europeans, the gaps are narrower and we already possess a shared understanding that enables a harmonious coexistence.

As a child, I avidly read about World War 1 and World War 2, understanding how these conflicts laid the foundation for peace through the formation of the European Union. Growing up under a communist regime, I witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War, and the subsequent liberation of Eastern European countries from oppressive regimes. The integration of Eastern Bloc countries into the European Union followed suit and I do remember a deep sense of unity. Then, the 2015 refugee crisis followed and the COVID-19 pandemic that tested our resilience and threatened our collective well-being. Our lives are once and again devastated now, with Russia invading Ukraine and with the economic crisis of the present.

The most significant game-changer on the horizon remains climate change, precisely because it requires a difficult, almost insurmountable paradigm shift in our approach.

Without embracing a new thinking and a new, common language, the losses we face will continue to accumulate. Our time together is threatened and threatening us all. This is Europe in the coming decades:

  • Temperatures will increase by 1.5°C to 5.0°C above pre-industrial levels – with impact in our health, in agriculture, in infrastructure
  • Heatwaves will affect especially elderly people
  • Flooding will affect Europe’s coastlines
  • Unexpected rainfall events will alternate with prolonged droughts
  • New distribution of plants and fauna with impact the food ecosystem and how this functions. 
  • The oceans will absorb more carbon dioxide and hence they will become more acidic. 
  • Extreme weather events will be doubled by more wildfires. 

None of the above is a "maybe". These are all facts, scientifically proven to happen in the coming years. So, what lies ahead in these trying times?

Europe, with its unique course of life, offers a trajectory that we can shape for the better if we fully embrace the European spirit.

We face yet another battle that calls for an even more powerful game-changer: the European Green Deal and the bold plans of becoming neutral by 2050. Our common language will revolve around innovation, cooperation, sustainability, transparency.  We still have an opportunity to regain control, to appreciate the unity and peace, to celebrate togetherness and acknowledge new, real game changers.

So where is the change already taking place? 

  • Energy: through renewable energy technologies, offshore wind, wave energy, hydrogen fuel cells
  • Transportation: electric, hybrid and autonomous vehicles, improved public transportation, new mobility options, cycling and more walking
  • Circular Economy: a different modus operandi for production, consumption and disposable of goods, reuse and recycle of materials, product-as-service models

There's plenty of things happening, should change be accepted and embraced. May 9th should be a celebration of change and we should joyfully accept our ever evolving, common existence.

Happy Transformation Day, Europe!