COVID-19 & SUSTAINABILITY

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CREATING A POSITIVE IMPACT OUT OF A NEGATIVE OUTCOME

Without a doubt the coronavirus pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives and our society in general and has completely changed our mindset and behaviors towards almost everything that concerns us. Although, this has mainly a negative tone, we cannot help but notice that Covid-19 has also paved the way for a significant positive impact on the environment and on the way businesses around the world nowadays operate. The pandemic can easily provide a window of opportunity for promoting sustainability transitions in consumption and production—which are desperately needed to prevent other similarly severe crises brought on by climate, and to promote commitment to reducing social, economic and environmental inequalities in the longer term.

 The outbreak of Covid-19, so far, has proven the viability of the environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda for both stakeholders and investors. We are currently witnessing a tendency to boost the transition to reusable products (i.e. masks) which can become a long-term commitment in every sector. The behavioral changes that have taken place to suppress viral spread include unprecedented steps to strengthen health systems and prioritize public health concerns over individual and market freedoms.

However, the management of a crisis with a negative impact can in fact provide a positive outcome: one of the initiatives that have been taken during these times regarding the sustainable development is the ‘Spain’ project led by “Bioquochem” in partnership with the Ministry of Science, involving companies such as “Therman” and “Olmar”, who created an industrial model that allows them to sterilize and recycle 500,000 masks a day to be delivered to health care services. This can only demonstrate the degree of commitment to help navigate the pandemic and channel every means possible to fighting the good fight.

We should also refer to the critical changes that the pandemic has brought regarding the work-related conditions inside companies and organizations. The “social-distancing” obliges companies and organizations to engage to the teleporting system for their employees. According to research and business executives, teleworking boosts employee productivity, increasing between 10% and 40%, as employees work more smoothly, avoid time-consuming travel and are more focused, thus covering a larger workload at home. With employees working remotely, relocations to large cities are declining. This results in the reduction of the traffic problem on the roads and of course the vertical reduction of the emission of pollutants into the environment from the vehicles. The benefits are also important for employers/business owners as the costs of raw materials, energy and all the operational costs in general are significantly reduced.

The Covid-19 crisis has also brought significant change in the way companies in all sectors and regions do business. According to a new McKinsey Global Survey of executives, their companies have accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions and their internal operations by three to four years, and the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their portfolios has accelerated by approximately seven years.

Despite the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic is a global health emergency with severe consequences on health and economy, it has brought positive environmental and behavioral effects that may serve in the long term as an example and inspiration that would help us bring positive changes in various aspects of our lives with the higher aim of preserving the environment. In the aftermath of this global crisis, we can agree that it is important to continue showing-up in order to ensure governments and companies engage into working towards sustainable, zero waste initiatives and overall a more sustainable future.

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