The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the urgency of transitioning toward more sustainable solutions across industries on a global scale. Although the conditions for implementing these solutions have been far from ideal this year, there are many examples of businesses and governments doing just that. In some cases, they have even accelerated the process and prioritized going green over other challenges.
We have asked industry experts to pick out the sustainable business decisions that have caught their eye this year. Their choices range from visionary and ambitious to ones that simply work to bring modest but measurable effects.
Here are some ideas to inspire your business to make sustainable decisions for the rest of 2020 and beyond.
As parts of the world have slowly turned towards COVID-19 recovery, the attention paid to sustainability issues has fortunately not subsided. Among the many decisions that have been made on climate transition this year, there are three that personally stand out to me and that show the level of commitment by policymakers and the private sector to continue the efforts towards a sustainable net-zero economy:
What 2020 has revealed is that sustainability in any respect will require innovation. We need new and improved ways of tackling both social and business problems and we need to tackle them together. Anything less than that will not stand the test of time and hence will not be sustainable.
Rather than talking about decisions, I’d talk about actions. Rather than mentioning three big decisions I heard of or experienced, I’d rather mention how grateful I am for every single person and organization that has been taking action towards sustainable goals. I believe each of us can make a difference, and if we all do our part each little contribution will have a greater impact than a few big decisions. In other words, I could say that, for me, the best sustainable decisions are those that have led and are leading to measurable and positive results regardless of the area of implementation. And each of them counts for our future and the common good. In short, I shall mention my favorite quote: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito in the room.”
2020 has been unique for many reasons. COVID-19 stopped some positive changes (e.g. reduction of plastic usage), but it also confirmed the belief that sustainable development is not a trend, but the only way to make the world better, and that it is good for business, too! The increase in consumer awareness is noticeable - we check where the product comes from, how it was created, what values the company producing it represents. I am also pleased to see the rising trend of plant-based eating - it is good for the environment, animals, but also for our health – and it is a huge market to be explored. The role of youth advocacy in achieving it cannot be overestimated. Young people want to fight for a better world and they show it in their initiatives. I am glad that companies and organizations follow that example to generate more positive impact.
We all experienced many changes in 2020 because of COVID-19. I’d like to focus on three of them which disruptively crossed my life and that could be a chance for a more sustainable future and more lively cities all around the world.
Let me answer this question in three respects: politically, entrepreneurially, and personally.
First of all, I found it encouraging that the European Commission has moved into action, raised the bar, and become much more ambitious in terms of tightening the climate targets. I am, unfortunately, not quite as convinced that all parliamentarians or even all EU member states will follow up.
Secondly, I saw companies like BlackRock or Goldman Sachs – flagships of capitalism – join the sustainable development agenda by excluding non-sustainable investments from their portfolio. They set an example. In the industry I am most familiar with, i.e. financial services, I can say that this inspires and supports all those bank directors who in recent months have recognized sustainability as a key strategic building block and put it on their agenda.
Last, but not least, I can say for myself that I needed that push from COVID-19 to improve my personal carbon footprint, but ever since March I have made full use of my “Bahncard 100”, have hardly flown nor used my car. And there’s no point in going back to the bad old days.
The pandemic imposed many sustainable decisions like remote work, digitalization of public offices, and the development of HealthTech. Coming from the digital world, I add my three cents to the great apps that dare to change the world into a more sustainable one. On a personal level, I discovered insect-based pet food for my dogs. I am also excited to see plant-based substitutes of meat entering the mainstream and pushing back less sustainable animal-sourced products out of the market.