Trust in Institutions, Policies Decreased, Panel Hears

Running under the banner The Key Disruption of the Future, the hidden dimensions panel heard that people’s trust in institutions and policies has decreased quite a lot over the past years, especially during the economic crisis, while it is vital for ensuring a future of well-being and security, despite inevitable disruptions.

To jump start the debate, Ms Mari Kiviniemi, OECD Deputy Secretary-General, delivered a keynote, stressing that “trust matters a great deal to people’s wellbeing”, while she was also critical of  the delivery of major policies: “Low trust in government means low capability to act.”

According to Ms Romina Boarini, Head of Monitoring Well-Being and Progress at the OECD, the OECD average drop after 2008 was 10%, while it as much as halved in countries most hit by the 2008 crisis. “The numbers we have show that in the OECD, we see that the crisis has taken its toll on trust.”

Similar arguments were presented by Dr Mattia Romani, Managing Director for Economics, Policy and Governance at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), who pointed to the EBRD study Life in transition for 2016. While the figures have not been published yet, Dr Romani noted they showed that trust had decreased. Broken down to two major groups – trust in institutions and policies has increased more than trust in society.

Their figures were somewhat challenged by Mr Boštjan Jazbec, Governor of the Bank of Slovenia, who said that economic figures showed a slightly different picture. What people say and how they act show a slightly different picture, he stressed. Touching on trust as such, Mr Jazbec noted that in order to induce trust, one must be willing to trust. What is more, he added that the perception of trustworthiness of institutions should be linked to the people who run them.

Ms Martina Larkin, Head of Europe and Eurasia and Member of the Executive Committee of the World Economic Forum, moreover noted that tectonic shifts were happening in the world, the 4th industrial revolution and the end of the age of reasoning – the fact that decision-making is more and more based on lies and misperceptions – among them.

Mr Ravi Chaudhry, Chairman of CeNext Consulting and Investment Pvt Ltd, meanwhile turned to  history and future: “There were five transformational moments in history.” The latest was the shift to knowledge economy, whose victim is trust. Those who have knowledge don’t have the power and those who have the power often don’t have the knowledge.” He, however, believes in a gradual transition from knowledge economy to wisdom economy: “As a leader, you can have, at the end of the day, something in the hand, something in the head or something in your heart.” According to him, leaders must possess three major qualities – integrity, compassion and transparency.

Touching on knowledge, Mr Alastair Teare, CEO of Deloitte Central Europe, pointed to the internet as a way of giving information. This has, however, led to much less plurality in debates because the internet is a magnet for people who want to promote their views.