UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


IIPP selected to take part in Vatican COVID-19 Commission’s Economy Taskforce

29 April 2020

IIPP Director Mariana Mazzucato has been invited to join a special Vatican task force to advise the Pope on economic policy matters, with special focus on problems created by COVID-19. IIPP research is feeding in to work through the coordination of Research Lead Asker Voldsgaard.


On March 28th 2020, the Pope sent an open letter to Judge Roberto Andrés Gallardo, the Argentinean-born president of the Pan-American Committee of Men and Women Judges for Social Rights, demanding leaders 'put people first', adding, 'it would be sad if they opted for the opposite, which would lead to the death of very many people, something like a viral genocide (genocidio virosico).'

Part of the solution, he claims, can be found in Professor Mariana Mazzucato's ground-breaking book The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy. In it, Professor Mazzucato issues a direct challenge to the wealth creators of our world, urging them to reprioritise 'value' over 'price'. In other words, 'taking' wealth is not the same as 'making' wealth, and the world has lost sight of what value really means.

'I believe [her vision] can help to think about the future,' Pope Francis said.

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Since then, Professor Mazzucato has been invited to sit on the Vatican COVID-19 Commission’s Economy Taskforce. She formed a group in IIPP to feed into this process more systematically, led by PhD student Asker Voldsgaard. The team is tasked with preparing weekly briefings for the Pope and the Vatican Directorate on key aspects of the economic response to COVID-19 ahead of the Pope’s weekly speeches. IIPP is joined on the task force by other universities including Georgetown in the USA and the World Resources Institute.
Professor Mazzucato and Research Lead Asker Voldsgaard are working together to coordinate the weekly briefs, which are centred on economic issues ranging from the political economy of debt relief to restructuring public-private economic relationships. Recent briefs have received excellent contributions from the wider IIPP community, including Advisory Board members Jayati Ghosh, Stephanie Kelton, James Galbraith and Carlota Perez.

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Providing expert comment on the economic implications of COVID-19, IIPP’s work will help to identify ways in which to restore world economics to a better state than before the crisis, work which requires reorientation towards prioritising public value creation and deploying solutions to our grand societal challenges. This is related to our publications in this area, on the need to ‘do capitalism’ differently after the crisis.
IIPP is honoured to be a part of this new taskforce, as the work is central to IIPP’s work and mission: changing how public value is imagined, practiced and evaluated to tackle societal challenges.

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In recent weeks, Professor Mazzucato and other IIPP academics have been applying their thinking on how to make sure the post-COVID-19 economy is one that is more inclusive and sustainable: