The authors propose a holistic approach to life and living after the coronavirus crisis of 2020 has become history. Their method is to postulate studied reconsideration of the true needs of the human species, new know‐how for all, novel codes of behavior, and drastic change to how we treat nature. Their findings name humanity's ballooning population as problem Number One. Without reverting to former ways, we need to apply our imagination to sound demographic principles, accept modest economic growth, and create much better stewardship of nature. Stated in terms of the futurist, a Great Acceleration should give way to a process we might call the Great Deceleration of humanity's tempo of life and mode of action. Readers are encouraged to eschew all thought of continuing with ‘business as usual’. A purposeful limitation is the absence of all encouragement towards regrowth of wasteful manufacture and commerce. A systemic shift towards circular and green economies should be a key advance in all business revival. Another mode of being awaits; success of the encounter depends on humankind, not on theory.
- An overly populated world is not a problem specific to each of the United Nations' 193 member nations. Each country will, if deemed necessary, formulate its own demographic position free from others' views. Urgently needed is a global effort, based on multilateral, multi‐stakeholder efforts and a new vision for how many humans should inhabit planet Earth, sustain quality of life and live in harmony with nature.
- To prevent the collapse of our civilization we need to use latest knowledge and implement the solutions already available for tackling the major issues of our time, such as global climate change, continued loss of biological diversity, environmental pollution and degradation, poverty, inequalities within and among countries, global health threats, and humanitarian crises.
- Disruptions caused by the COVID‐19 emergency, the most severe crisis since the Second World War, have derailed international efforts towards sustainable development as enshrined in the goals of the UN's 2030 Agenda. At the national level, chaos during this crisis caused immediate changes in public services: emergency healthcare, socioeconomic safety nets, trade abroad. Other services will need revision. Worldwide recovery is now urgently needed, underpinned by relevant policies, from local to global levels.
- Recovery policy should not aim at returning to a situation as before the COVID‐19 pandemic, to a business as usual scenario. Rather, the crisis should be seen as an opportunity, an option for a reset and subsequent launch of a Great Transformation towards 'a better world, a future we want'.
- Worldwide policies should, accordingly, foster a transition from decades of a Great Acceleration across a large range of human activities—through reversing upward trends—to a Great Deceleration. This reversal requires massive change in the dynamics of value chains through slowing down of flows in matter, energy and information.