Circular Thinking in Times of COVID-19

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Circular Thinking in Times of Covid-19
Circular Thinking in Times of Covid-19

Dr. Md. Munjur E. Moula from Finland: COVID-19 crisis has left footprints on each and every aspect of modern society. It has several new and unique features, collective attention on the many wounded justices and weaknesses. During these unprecedented times, what would make us resilient and help us to manage the crisis? In today’s digital era, we have poor experiences to tackle the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Dear readers, don’t you think that the poor experiences are really important to learn what works and what doesn’t? Likewise, do you think we need to understand the wisdom of circular thinking which may safeguard our future?

Considering above mentioned questions, points of departure for our discussion include: (1) How do we ensure a safe work environment? (2) How might our needs and wants be satisfied within planetary boundaries? (3) How could online learning resources support students and their wellbeing and (4) How do we bring communities together to address a pandemic like Covid-19 in general? By analysing these questions, it can be seen that the real perspectives of scientists involved in different fields are reflected in different ways.

For example, dear reader, for you, a small group of 12 scientists from Bangladesh Doctorate’s Platform in Bangladesh (BDPF) has given their opinion on circular thinking that focuses on pulling in more of what kind of world do you want and how current pandemic offers opportunities to learning capabilities for safe working place and working together on problems that affect the entire human race.

Corona crisis has accelerated the pace of digital transformation, said business specialist Dr. Anisur Rahman Faruque. According to him, COVID 19 pandemic is an opportunity for the education industry to forge connections across countries and continents. Remote education has become a norm, which was once frowned upon. Now we can switch to a fully online version of teaching-learning.

This mode of teaching-learning provided us with not only flexibility but also savings of time and cost in many aspects. At the same time, the education industry should think about how to mitigate risks for teaching and students to enable a trusted transition back to the physical mode of teaching-learning.

Circular economy pioneer Dr. Md. Munjur E. Moula focuses on how circular thinking makes us resilient and helps us to manage a pandemic crisis – entire music for humans. According to him, circular thinking gives us the freedom to identify the root causes of problems, and see new opportunities to build a stronger and resilient economy, enables collaboration, cooperation, and social interaction.

Additionally, circular thinking is so integral part of a circular economy that supports a more resilient society. The current pandemic suggests us to build such a society. Questions remain how? You can find the answer to this question from Circular Family in Bangladesh (CFB) which made a road that has opened for all Bangladeshis a new era of development and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

According to industrial management thinker Dr. Ahm Shamsuzzoha, pandemic situations notifies us to promote automation in production systems as much as possible. Because the current pandemic crisis has exposed the fragility of the dominant economic model. He argues circular thinking will help us to find an alternative economic model which is an essential mode of production to protect global economies during exogenous shocks resulting in production and supply chain and logistics disruptions.

SoC expert Dr. Shahriar Shahabuddin focuses on how COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of digital services at a rapid rate. In a matter of a few months, migration to digital techniques for business and consumers leaped five years forward. The pandemic has made us realize the importance of the internet and telecommunications. Hence the internet services are no longer a means for entertainment. He gives more weight on the paradigm shift of digital transformation to mainstream ‘circular thinking’ which supports the development of digital services.

For example, broadband connectivity should be viewed as a utility, similar to electricity or water. In this respect, we can learn from Northern European country Finland, who was the first country in the world to declare broadband a legal right for every citizen back in 2010. Every Finn has the right to access to a 1 Mbps broadband connection. Due to a strong internet and telecommunication infrastructure, Finland was able to quickly shift to teleworking. Due to the rapid migration of teleworking, Finland has one of the lowest infection rates in Europe.

Multicultural intelligence expert Dr. Shaidul Kazi gives insights on how to ensure a safe work environment in the time of COVID-19 pandemic. He believes the quote of Geert Hofstede ‘in collectivist societies people live in groups’. Therefore, considering the context of Bangladesh, widening the gap of personal distance may help us to break the contamination chain of Covid-19 spread.

Natural Resources and Environmental Economics Dr. Sepul Barua focuses on the impact of Covid-19 on working lives-a number of key concerns for employees, including work-life balance, wellbeing, and job security. According to him, when the COVID-19 situation improves and related restrictions are lifted, people will go back to workplaces to do their job causing the disappearance of all positive and some negative impacts of the COVID-19 induced work-life adjustments or changes.

Likewise, chemist, Dr. Mehdi Hassn focuses general thoughts on working life in a pandemic situation. For example, it becomes more crucial when we are in a workplace where others can be affected by the act of an individual. A safe work environment ensures safety and zeroes harm strategy for all incumbents. However, the responsibility is mutual and everyone should take part. Hence we need to consider circular thinking which enables collaboration, cooperation, and collective action to maintain cleanliness which is the very basis of civil society.

Dr. Sanaul Haque provides insights on how community togetherness can support to heal the current pandemic. According to him, the pandemic crises create alliances to overcome our common problems. Now we will have to find a circular threshold to work together under an umbrella and think collectively following the African wise proverb “one for all, all for one”.

This movement will teach humans how to get more active and resilient for any future natural/artificial catastrophes. Multidisciplinary researcher Dr. Tahamina Khanam provides general thoughts on how to reshape our society. According to her, the pandemic crisis represents a change from the known into the unknown. Therefore, the current pandemic crisis has to be seen in the eyes of the rest of mankind. There is no room for us to ignore the challenges like unequal distribution of income and wealth, fragile supply chains, and gender inequality.

Likewise, forest advisor Dr. Sunil Kundu keeps his eyes on circular thinking in health management sectors. In Bangladesh, the health sector is supposed to improve the prevailing poor conditions. The management of the corona pandemic is inadequate and even beyond the expectation. According to him, social interaction with effective awareness to be created among the general people to follow ‘health safety rule’ to bring communities together to control the endemic outbreak of the virus.

Sustainable development expert Dr. SM Shafiqul Alam believes the quote of Plato ´Crisis is the mother of invention´. He highlights the transition to the new normal work life for the active people in general. In this light, he provides the example of Finnish safe work-life policy may consider by the government of Bangladesh to mitigate risks for its active citizens to enable a trusted transition back to physical operations.

Likewise, interdisciplinary bio-economy expert Dr. Yeasinur Rahman suggests how to tackle pandemic problems and future upcoming calamities. For example, (1) we need a sustainable system that is a circular thinking concept model, and (2) we have to teach the young generation about the new circular concept, experts from all fields should come forward with an open mind with an online platform.

Dear readers, considering aforesaid discussions on circular thinking in the time of Covid-19 pandemic, we may summarise the views as: (1) pandemic crisis has turned into an opportunity, (2) has altered and influenced our lives in every possible way, ranging from food habit to education, (3) has forced us to revitalize some morals, decorums and social etiquettes which need to be followed in every sphere of life, (4) has greatly focused to widening the personal gap, regular physical and mental well-being boost up activities that help us to create a safe work environment, (5) has notified that in the post-pandemic era, current remote work culture will surely encourage people to embrace the digital lifestyle further, (6) has suggested focusing on our needs and demands which could have been re-engineered in line with upholding a sustainable eco-system for the planet, and (7) has strongly suggested rejecting the antithetical concepts of sustainable development and growth.

About the Author:
Dr. Munjur E. Moula is working at Aalto University Finland. At the same time, he is acting as founding President of two research networks (SAS at Aalto University, BDPF) in Finland and Chairman & Founder of Circular Family in Bangladesh (www.cfb.com.bd).

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