By Indranil Seth
The devastating effects that Covid-19 has brought to the health and economy of the world will definitely be remembered and referred to in the upcoming decades. This pandemic will be a yard stick for any future events which might threaten the human race on a mass scale. Pandemics are not new to the human society as they have occurred in the past and will occur again, but we can learn from Covid-19 and thus be better prepared with a more robust sustainable shield for the world. A hundred years ago, in 1918, the Spanish Flu may not have affected sustainability goals in the same way as Covid-19 has done today. As some nations are cautiously coming out of their self-imposed lockdowns and some are still fighting it out to create favorable conditions to loosen their strict lockdowns, we, as sustainability and environmental professionals, should wonder ever more about what the future might hold for sustainable development in the post Covid-19 world.
The way we do things will definitely change post Covid-19. Can this be a boon for the nations without sustainable development, so that they can start afresh incorporating new ideas, armed with valuable experience? I think it is a golden opportunity for nations lacking a sustainable growth record to catch up. For that, a “Globalization of Sustainability Ideas” is the need of the hour, one which binds the entire world together in facing future eminent threats of existence to mankind and also creates a level playing field for humanity to collectively achieve new heights.
When nations end their self-imposed lockdowns and open up, the paramount message that should be precipitated through society is the sincerity towards achieving a sustainable life and sustainable development. Post Covid-19, there will be some real and immediate arduous challenges to overcome, such as economic revival taking priority over sustainable growth. Also, we have to make sure that it is no longer just about solving standalone environmental issues or pursuing sustainable development but the sustainability focus should encompass the full gamut of natural bio-diversity, humanity, and the threat they pose to each other. Oceans need to become more critical than ever for an improved sustainable comeback for the world. Ocean container transport has to be more sustainable and should create a safety net to be unaffected by future world events like pandemics, terrorist acts, and economic upheavals. Cleaner oceans should spearhead the sustainable growth curve of this earth.
Will the new business of sustainability still be mainly focused on environmental issues like water preservation and natural habitat restoration or will a whole new concept take shape, which will also influence the future world of business? What is it going to be? Only time can tell us. Whatever it is, it will be nothing like anything that existed in the pre Covid-19 world that we know of. The post Covid-19 world will be vastly different from the pre Covid-19 world. Whether research shows that climate change and pandemics are related or not, should not determine how we face the future sustainability challenges. In fact, we have to consider each and every aspect of the environmental consequences of development and keep them in mind when we plan and design future sustainable growth.
We have to remember that sustainability is also a state of the mind. Sustainability needs to incorporate the human factor more than ever as evident from the recent past. Every measure should be taken so that nature’s delicate balance is unaltered. Sustaining the natural biodiversity on earth should go hand in hand with the upliftment of masses and balancing of the human-nature relationship. As cyclones, bush fires, volcanic eruptions, and other natural disasters become the norm, we should be equally prepared to make our sustainable life and sustainable development more resilient towards future threats. As we have very clearly received the message that the pursuit of exclusivity has led to most of today’s problems, therefore now we should understand that sustainable inclusivity is the answer to the today’s challenges. A philosophical understanding should be held to arrive at any answer and remedy, to make the world more sustainably livable again. Covid-19 has taught us that infinitesimal beings like intelligent viruses can also be as critical as greenhouse gases in our sustainability focus. The need of the hour is to be untraditional in our approach towards sustainability. In the future vulnerable world, a top down approach may not be as successful and fruitful as an act-in-response approach to achieve our sustainability goals.
Indranil Seth, PE, LEED AP BD+C, PMP is an environmental and sustainability consultant with a mining engineering background. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.