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by Chris Marshall
09 November 2023
Mariana Mazzucato: People think politicians are corrupt, businesses are corrupt

Mariana Mazzucato is a former Scottish Government adviser | Alamy

Mariana Mazzucato: People think politicians are corrupt, businesses are corrupt

Economist Mariana Mazzucato has called for the public to be put at the centre of decision making around climate change as she warned of increasing disillusionment with politics and big business.

Mazzucato, a professor at University College London (UCL) and former member of the Scottish Government’s Advisory Council for Economic Transformation, said the rise in populism across the globe was because people think politicians are “corrupt”.

She said climate change had to be addressed by an “all-government approach” where environmental policy is embedded in all areas of policy.

Mazzucato was speaking remotely to an audience at Holyrood’s Climate Action Summit which is taking place at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh.

She highlighted the example of Sweden where climate policy is central to welfare and impacts on the delivery of school meals.

She said: “We need an all-of-government approach to climate change. It’s not just for the Department of Energy, we need all the different ministeries.

“I learned a lot in Sweden, for example, where they brought the climate mission to the welfare state. Schools meals in Sweden have to be healthy, tasty and sustainable. That means that the procuring in of school meals changes the supply chain of food and requires different types of companies to interact with the department of education. That again can really help foster growth.”

Mazzucato, whose latest book The Big Con looks at governments’ over-reliance on external consultants, said many voters felt increasingly cut off from decisions made by politicians.

She said: “The populism that we’re seeing all around the world, including in the country I’m from – Italy – really comes from a lot of people feeling like it all doesn’t matter – that the politicians are corrupt, the business sector is corrupt – I’m either not going to vote or I’m voting for the party that makes everything seem really simple.

“It’s incredibly important to gain trust but to do it in an genuine way. I’ve found one of the most interesting ways to do that was to find these cross-sectoral missions that actually mean something to people. The best way to do that is to put those people at the centre of mission design.

“The food banks which have risen due to inequality, unfortunately also in Scotland, – turn them into food cooperatives so that the people that are benefitting don’t feel humiliated – they shouldn’t but they do.”

Yesterday, the summit heard from net zero secretary Mairi McAllan who recently delayed the publication of the Scottish Government’s updated climate action plan.

Both McAllan and First Minister Humza Yousaf will travel to Dubai later this month for COP28, the UN climate summit held in Glasgow in 2021.

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