Editorial CCPB February 2022

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Dear members and friends of the Belgian-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce,

As you many may now, I’m deeply inspired by Nature. In Nature, all is cyclic, destruction is followed by regeneration, failures lead to new forms of existence, nothing gets lost, etc. In Nature all is interconnected. Amazing. Isn’t it? For centuries our view and understanding of Nature has been influenced by our culture which has led to disconnection from Nature. Not only the COVID-pandemic, but also natural phenomena like the storms and flooding in Belgium and the lack of precipitation in Portugal (associated with the risk of desertification) together with our belief in predict, manage and control illustrate that our view on the world is different from reality. We believe we are prepared for the worst, that we can control and demand the circumstances, that we can build solutions that last forever. It is a thinking that starts from ourselves being outside/above Nature. We are in constant war with Nature. We talk about humans and animals and separate ourselves from the living beings. With the negative effects we all can witness nowadays. What if we would review our position? Our view on the world is one of the main root-causes of our actual problems. Our mechanistic thinking does not match with how Nature thrives. What if we would forget the focus on control, prediction and separation? What would happen if we would embrace the world as an ever changing dynamic living system enabling life? We can do this! Indigenous people were used to do it and still have this wisdom with them to share with us. What are we waiting for?

Charles Darwin, who was born more than 200 years ago, started spreading the message that collaboration, empathy and cooperation are key to survive as species. He also pointed out that survival depends on the ability to adapt to the ever changing circumstances. Recently a study by Brian Hare concluded that it is about the survival of the friendliest, despite the sensational fights between rivals in Nature frequently illustrated in National Geographic documentaries. Also here, our view on Nature is different from reality. So it applies on how we look to and act in business. In business it is no longer about competition and “if you cannot beat them, join them”. Sustainable business is based on collaboration, partnership, reciprocity, diversity and being resilient. Over the last decade it has proved to be the best recipe to thrive. We are learning fast and can already see the positive effects of our changes. That is hopeful. But providing solutions and innovation starting from the same mechanistic thinking we’ve applied the past decades is a recipe for failure. “A clever person solves a problem, a wise person avoids it”, Albert Einstein once said.

In this context the CCBP, as an important economic agent promoting bilateral relations between Portugal and Belgium, contributing to the internationalisation of businesses between the two countries, will continue to promote collaboration, partnerships and to let discover mutual benefits between the two communities. Facilitating the members of the CCBP to move within the business ecosystem is what drives us at the CCBP. With the CCBP, we aim not only to support cooperation and collaboration, but we also take care of each other in difficult periods. The CCBP is an important social association. We are grateful to be able to fulfil this role. This gratefulness gives us the energy and drive to continue organising interesting events, strengthen relationships and regenerate connections.

In this spirit, I’m confident that, despite our cultural preference for demand and control, we can realise a behavioural transition towards a more holistic viewpoint and a behaviour in line with how Nature thrives. We live in a context of an ever changing dynamic living system. That is amazing. Let us not control the dynamics, but learn how to enjoy and dance with them…

February, 2022

pIEt Haerens

Vice-President, CCBP