The latest injection of uncertainty coursing through an already jittery global market, Standard & Poor’s downgrade of U.S. sovereign debt, from the prized AAA rating to AA+ with a negative outlook, could prove ominous.
Citing insufficient economic and political measures taken to tackle U.S. national debt as reason for its decision, the credit rating agency has given U.S. bondholders, such as the increasingly critical Chinese government (who own a 46% stake), fresh cause for financial concern. It is not simply enough to seek financial solutions for such a protracted financial crisis. Fundamental political leadership and governance issues must too be addressed.
One key area for review is the U.S. and other government’s failure to measure sustainable development or pursue a sustainable future. In these tumultuous times, the lack of so crucial a commitment places citizens’ livelihoods at risk.
In contrast, many of those countries that score highly on the Sustainable Society Index, such as Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, all have AAA credit ratings. Although all once impoverished, over the previous half-century the Scandinavian states have managed to develop within the boundaries set by sustainability to provide comprehensive social security and welfare protections for their citizens.
Up to now, the leaders of these latter nations have remained quiet about global sustainability issues. Now is the moment for them to speak-up, to open a forum of discussion and share sustainability ideas and policies. Struggling economies, such as U.S. and the world at-large, could surely benefit from this a dialogue.