Today, as responsible citizens we are all engaging in collective responsibility practices to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
Be it working from home, limiting our social interactions or washing our hands, we are all taking steps to protect ourselves and our fellow community members.
In the same way as engaging in collective responsibility practices is crucial for curtailing the spread of the coronavirus, we need to take collective action to address our sustainability needs.
Challenges for Sustainability
Climate and Sustainability advocacy are seemingly in a precarious position in the wake of the corona pandemic. No sooner as climate and sustainability action began to take hold in businesses decision-making, the global crisis has dealt a significant blow to its standing.
A few months ago, CEOs were boasting about their companies strong sustainability plans. Climate activists were riding the wave of momentum towards green new deals and there seemed to be a genuine push for the mainstreaming of sustainability practices.
But, today the European Union is postponing climate law debates, Fridays for Future protests have gone online and pollution-intensive industries are seeking bailouts.
We do not need to look too far into the past for evidence of how a global economic crisis can be detrimental for our sustainability ambitions.
As put by Helen Mountford of the World Resources Institute, “After the global financial crisis of 2008, for example, global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production grew 5.9% in 2010 more than offsetting the 1.4 per cent decrease in 2009.”
As a world priority, it must be emphasized that any global economic recovery package must include an emphasis on renewability and continue the good steps taken in recent years to push for a more sustainable global economic model.
Sustainability after the Coronavirus
What the coronavirus has highlighted for many people is how dealing with global issues is reliant on united action and shared responsibility.
In the same way as this is true for dealing with a pandemic, it is equally as important when dealing with sustainability and climate change.
There are strong similarities between our response to both crises. As put by Kim Cobb, a climate scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology,
“Both demand early aggressive action to minimize loss, only in hindsight will we understand what we gambled on and what we lost by not acting early enough.”
We have seen how COVID-19 has had a direct impact on peoples sustainability choices. In the United States, the virus has led to a 50% drop in carbon-monoxide emissions from car traffic compared to last year. This has the potential to demonstrate to car users that cutting out unnecessary journeys is achievable.
Equally, the coronavirus has had a significant effect on global aviation travel, a major contributor to C02 emissions. In Europe, air travel has ground to almost a halt with mass cancellations.
Again, the virus has illustrated to consumers that reducing our air travel is an achievable goal. In the long run, this may result in consumers altering their air travel habits.
The Danger of Business as Usual
However, as put by Rob Jackson, an environmental researcher at Stanford University “We don’t want a Great Depression to be the reason for our carbon emissions drop. We want efficient and renewable energy to be the reasons so that we can continue to thrive economically.”
The danger is that once the global health crisis is dealt with, countries will focus solely on revitalising their domestic economies.
It is important to be wary of states and companies taking the opportunity to postpone or go back on their sustainability commitments.
The global disruption caused by the pandemic has the potential to give opportunities for the acceleration of climate and sustainability policies.
The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres has pointed to how the crisis has the potential to point the way for international cooperation in the future.
“In the months ahead, we need to rebuild trust. We need to demonstrate that international cooperation is the only way to deliver meaningful results.”
Collective Responsibility for Sustainability
Curtailing the spread of the coronavirus requires buy-in from everybody.
This is the only way that self-isolating can work effectively because if some are ignoring the recommendations the virus will continue to spread.
We all must take action and assume responsibility for supporting the general health and well being of our neighbours.
This is the striking similarity between what is needed in our reaction to the health crisis and our sustainability challenges. We all as businesses and individuals need to take collective responsibility to improve our sustainability behaviour.
The 2030 Sustainable development goals were created to build a better world for people and our planet. All 193 members of the United Nations have agreed to pursue the SDGs. But the goals have value not only for governments.
They also provide a holistic framework for businesses to apply, show the contribution and manifest the company’s purpose.
Engaging the SDGs is the perfect way for your business to stay ahead of the curve in the future.
By showing leadership in dealing with our collective responsibility to sustainability your business can remain relevant in the future and achieve optimized results.
2030 Builders and Sustainability Responsibility
Our digital Software at 2030 Builders is the perfect tool for creating a collective responsibility for sustainability at your business.
By bringing together the ideas and values of your employees you can create strong sustainability strategies that remain robust during challenging times.
By exploring the common values and sustainability beliefs between peers there can be a strategic alignment that bolsters the sustainability capabilities of your company.
This can only serve to improve your company’s sustainability mission and work towards quantifiable impact.
If you are excited about what at 2030 Builders we can do for you and achieve together, or would just like to learn more about us, follow the link to book a demo.