2020 is making us rethink our lives, per the pandemic and other worldwide events, which is why sustainability is fast becoming the new business reality.
Some people would call 2020 “biblical.” Fires raged across Australia for almost 80 days; a locust plague has ravaged East Africa; the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically changed our way of living; social unrest and racial discord erupted in the United States and spread to other countries. And the year is not even over yet.
When things go south, we hope things will get better in the end. And they often do. But what if 2020 is not an usual year marked by black swan events but rather a reflection of how bad things have become and how badly we need change?
Consider this: We’ve lost 20 million hectares of forests every year since 2011; more than 8 billion kilograms of plastic end up in the oceans annually; air and water pollution has reached critical levels in many major cities; there are around 265 million working children (almost 17% of the worldwide children population); about 1.7 billion adults remain unbanked, and $111 billion was invested in fossil fuels in 2019.
2020 Is Making Us Rethink Our Lives
Until recently, most of us have not thought all that much about sustainability. These things often feel too distant to be meaningful, their impact too slow to be noticeable in our daily lives. But this is changing fast.
Covid-19 has made us aware of our vulnerability – and has justified extreme measures. Lockdowns have been an extended period of reflection. The worldwide chaos caused by Covid-19 is not a result of climate change, but the scale of disruption is comparable, in many ways, to a world where climate change is left unchecked. The pandemic has let us experience the very real global disruption wrought by a seemingly science-fiction-like natural event that arrives gradually, but inexorably, and quickly bulldozes through our entire social and economic system. This time, it is a virus. Next time, perhaps an extreme weather event. So, despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis and a looming recession, business and political leaders are taking sustainability more seriously than ever.
Consumers have discovered their consciousness. An increasing number of customers see beyond the pure transactional interactions with companies and demand business practices that are both ethical and sustainable. This consumer awakening will impact companies on many different levels, beyond just sales. Dissatisfied customers might not be able to leave rogue companies on the spot if alternatives do not yet exist, but they will gradually disengage and eventually look for – or create – alternatives.