By Rosalinda Sanquiche, ISSP-SA, CSE Certified Trainer
What will the “new normal” look like? The challenges we’re facing in the wake of COVID-19 are the very challenges to which sustainability professionals have long been offering solutions.
The Resilient versus Efficient debate tends to fall toward efficiency. However, we should ask which areas can we best managed with redundancy. Sustainability based on biodiversity teaches us to find multiple pathways to the same outcome. Do we always want the cheapest, least labor intense option? Resiliency affects workers, supply chain, health care, education and so much more.
Supply chain – knowing exactly where our products come from, how they get to us, and which commodities are fragile are a few of the issues addressed by McKinsey, Harvard Business Review and thousands of articles and reports from the sustainability community, with extensive guidelines and management tools.
Clean Air – a current meme is the clear skies around our most populated cities. There have been 11,000 avoided deaths because of better quality air in Europe. Compare this to the estimated 100,000 deaths annually in the US attributed to air pollution. Now is the time to consider corporations going beyond compliance.
Debt relief – various ideas are circulating to relieve the financial burden of student loans, mortgage and rent payments, credit card payments and even utility bills. Should companies consider debt-forgiveness jubilees for community stakeholders? And, let’s be deeply concerned that a few weeks of unemployment have sent many to the food banks.
Health care – Many communities suffer poor access to medical care and nutrition during the best of times. In turn, these bottom of the chain workers are the very ones who prepare our food, deliver our goods, care for our children. A system where the best paying get the best care is irrelevant to the spread of illness. Even the fully employed can fall toward the negative end of the spectrum.
Guaranteed minimum income – many economists, as did Milton Friedman, suggest variations of a guaranteed minimum income. As we scramble to disburse aid to displaced minimum wage earners and gig workers and the more fragile than we’d like to admit middle class, sustainability practitioners again must grapple with providing the benefits of corporations offering living wages.
Sustainability is so much more than reduce, reuse, recycle. Companies task sustainability practitioners with crafting solutions best suited for their sector. CSE training and consulting are resources you can access for sound, long-term solutions to ameliorate the fallout from COVID-19 and other crises to come.