We are living in really exceptional times. According to all the indicators, we are faced with a systemic crisis that combines emergency situations in the healthcare, socio-economic, environmental and democratic areas. The complex nature of the crisis means that a linear solution, or one limited to a technical response, is not appropriate. Even after a vaccine is found, we will take a long time to respond to the other crises that will have been generated as a result of the virus.

Agirre Lehendakaria Center believes that it is much more useful to examine the overall socio-economic transformation experienced by Basque society since the end of General Franco's dictatorship, which involved high levels of unemployment, social inequality, the dismantling of industry and an international image marked by violence as an experience we can learn from to respond to the challenges we are now facing. The crisis that Basque society lived through at the time was also systemic, but we managed to respond in an extraordinary way. 

There are two possible future scenarios; what we do over the next few months will mark the trend towards one or the other. On one hand, a scenario in which individualistic narratives will have greater weight, with everybody trying to get back to where they were before. This scenario encourages authoritative behaviours by governments that wish to weaken citizens' empowerment. The alternative is a scenario in which collective narratives prevail that attach value to collective efforts to deal with the great challenges facing us. Here, the community assumes a key role in everything we do. In other words, a scenario that replicates the mentality that enabled Basque society to transform itself successfully, based on underlying values such as solidarity and equality.

The strategic areas that covid has revealed as priorities for the future are spaces in which Basque society already has considerable advanced knowledge (healthcare systems, new universal social protection systems such as a Guaranteed Minimum Income, the recovery of advanced manufacturing in Europe, the redesign of food supply chains and other elements such as gastronomy, digitization, etc.). The challenge does not consist of doing the same old things or trying to return to the previous situation, but of the Basque Country taking advantage of its leadership position to make it a place of advanced experimentation where its know-how can be interconnected. Our experience endorses us as a society that is able to respond to situations of systemic crisis in an innovative way.

The key question is: do we still think that a new transformation is possible, one that is as big as the transformation we have experienced in recent decades? A transformation that will allow a response to covid-19, adapting our industrial base to a low-carbon, circular economy, reinventing public policies to respond to the needs of an ageing population and deal with social inequality, aiming at a decent life for everyone. Basically, if we can raise our capacity to have a collective ambition to give a home-grown response to challenges that are global, as we did in the past.

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