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The 4th Industrial Revolution: Opportunities for Green Transformation in the World of Employment – Ökopódium EU, Budapest

At the Hungarian station of the workshop series of Green European Foundation, Ecopolis Foundation helps to have a closer look at the potential greening effects of the 4th industrial revolution for the world of employment.

Organised by the Green European Foundation with the support of Ecopolis and the financial support of the European Parliament to the Green European Foundation.

Date: Tuesday, 24 October 2017, 5 p.m.
Address: Magnet House, Budapest, Dictrict 6, Andrássy út 98.


The 4th Industrial Revolution:
Opportunities for Green Transformation in the World of Employment


Green Transformation – Freedom and Security in uncertain times

We live in uncertain times. The change-maker from ecological perspective – climate disruption – is accompanied by the change-maker from economic perspective: an ongoing social-ecological transformation perceived as a change of an expansionist, fuel based civilizational model and the 4th industrial revolution fuelled by disruptive technologies (digitalization, robotization, …).

These technologies not only change the way we produce things, but also lead to radical changes in the labour market, the availability and the organization of work and question the existing regime of our national welfare states with a social security system built on full employment in stable and localized jobs.

The concepts of social-ecological transformation and industrial revolution allow us to capture the radical societal challenges we are heading for. We will have to adapt our economy, our labour market and welfare state to the changing and dynamic world.For what this means, we can take lessons from the analysis of the first industrial revolution by Karl Polanyi. In his important book The Great Transformation, he develops a frame of analysis for such a profound societal change. As the first industrial revolution caused a revolution in where we lived (the city rather than rural areas) and what we did for a living (work in a factory instead of on the field), now innovations such as digitalization will cause another Copernican revolution.

An industrial revolution allows market forces – using new technologies but also power relationships related to new modes of production – to free themselves from existing regulations and disrupt the fundamental social ties. This first disrupting movement always triggers a second movement: people and organizations wanting to protect the social fabric, giving counter weight to the market forces, developing new ways to regulate them.

This second movement however, as history learns, contains two different answers: a democratic one and a fascist one. If we want to the democratic answer to prevail, we have to create new forms of security by developing new strong forms of democratic regulation, with the aim of re-embedding the new industrial economy in a democratic society.

Applying this line of thought to the current situation, a lot of similarities appear.

– the digital working class and crowdsourcing
New technologies alter in a radical manner the way labour is organized and regulated. The new growing class of digital workers is less and less working for a company in the frame of a full time and stable position. More and more companies don’t look for workers but for clickworkers, which means workers have to compete on the Internet on a worldwide basis for (small) assignments. This threatens the regulation of working hours, minimum wages, sick leave, pensions, etc. It is one of the drivers of the erosion of the middle class.On the other hand, we see elements of new forms of informal regulation, where clickworkers evaluate on-line companies putting jobs on the Internet.

– new monopoly companies with fewer employees and more profit
Due to digitalization and automatization, we see the emergence of global companies striving for a monopoly position, and realize a huge turn-over with relative few employees. Some of these (Uber, Airbnb) deliberately negate national regulation, and use all means to avoid paying taxes. This evolution in turn leads to a growing mistrust of the population in its own government.

How can we create a democratic answer to these challenges? What new forms of regulation can embed the new economy?

It is clear that, as we have to deal with global challenges, the European Union is the scale on which most of the new regulation has to be developed, in dialogue with national governments. We are talking about new policies for and regulation of the labour market, fiscal policy and innovative social security. It is also connected with the importance of a caring economy and new forms of mixed work (Mischarbeit).



we provide English-Hungarian simultaneous translation throughout the program



Green transformation – freedom and security in uncertain times
Dirk Holemans director, Oikos, Belgium

Opportunities and threats of the transformation in a domestic and international ways
Dr. Fülöp Sándor PhD, environmental expert, co-chair, Ecopolis Foundation

How is the 4th Industrial Revolution different than the previous ones? What are the main dangers and what are the biggest opportunities?
Miklós Kis, journalist

What goes first: people or profit? What does politics and politicians help?
Erzsébet Schmuck, member of parliament, Politics Can Be Different

break, snack

Debate with the participants

Closing remarks
Dirk Holemans director, Oikos, Belgium


Participation is free but subject to prior registration.

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