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  • Writer's pictureRui Veras

COVID-19 an engagement opportunity

Updated: Nov 23, 2020

Systemic change does not come easy, usually not fast, and frequently with a good dose of resistance.

Our societies have evolved from the Ancient Greek thinkers and much of what we conceptualise originated in their society. Okeanus was the earth-encircling River from where the Gods originated. Without having the science to prove life came from the sea, the Greeks had the concept.

Similarly, we know that sustainability is a premise for human life on Earth. We might not have cracked the science, or the economy in this case, but it is our only chance of surviving. And it is possible.

While the COVID-19 pandemic generates a reality that most of us in the planet have not experienced. It is not dramatically changing our societies, nor economies - particularly, not into sustainable ones. But it is giving us an opportunity to materialise the effective use of the technology we developed - or at least to give us a comparison point to understand when we really need to meet in person (and why), and when we do not.

It is also building on managers confidence and possibly developing a healthier work life balance. Especially reducing commuting times, and hopefully bringing people closer to their communities - within a safe 1,5 meters distance.

And the big question I hear from many is: will the pandemic be an opportunity to change our habits and economies into more sustainable ones?

I wish not to ponder on the economic effects of the pandemic in what regards jobs or the lack of them. But merely to think about possible changes that the COVID-19 pandemic can originate.

My believe is that the pandemic can be a great ice breaker to start discussions and bring together CEOs and companies to discuss sustainability. This is a discussion that makes sense due to the bigger impact of climate change that is upon us - of which the pandemic certainly is a symptom.

But per se, the pandemic has only seen a rise in pollution, due to all the protective equipment we are now wearing. It has not made companies develop eco-friendly packaging. Nor look for bio solutions in the production of many of our daily consumption patterns. For example, I have not yet see Calabash production become mainstream - just like it used to be when it was easier than producing glass or plastic bottles. Nature offers us many solutions. Mostly, we only need to look a few years back for practices that are more economic and ecologically friendly. Let's make the good ones hip again - while saving ourselves.

Sustainability change opportunities are constant and make economic sense. The doughnut economy model is a good frame to evolve into. We do not need growth, we need balance. Providing for all, without destroying the environmental boundaries. The virtue is in the middle.

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