The Chinese word for crisis consists of two characters representing danger and opportunity respectively. Symbols of wisdom and extremely relevant with the current Covid-19 raging the world.
On 1 January 2016, the 17 sustainability Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development officially came into force.
I had seen these goals and frankly thought of them as somewhat idealistic. I was cynical as to how companies would be persuaded to adopt these goals. Already governments had been slow to adopt measures in favour of a greener world. Too slow as people rightly protested to warn the dangers of global warming. Then came Covid-19.
My Bachelor degree was in Zoology so I was fully aware of the risks of a zoonotic disease. In early 2006 HSBC published a report that it was ready - but could everyone else cope with an $800bn flu pandemic? In 2012 I attended a lecture by Dr Ian Lipkin at THiNK who also warned of such dangers. Yet, because it is so rare one never dares to think of it. World leaders definitely were caught with their pants down made clear by the scrambling for PPE.
However, this is really THE time to have a look at all your business processes and verify them against the sustainability goals. Life as you know it won’t be the same. Business as usual can no longer be the mantra. Dependency on China is a real risk factor: geographically and more and more politically also. The TWI2050 report argues that the global transformation is still possible, but requires strong political commitment and immediate and ambitious action.
Recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations show that people are concerned about social issues. This is only one of the advances in human capacity that are needed. Interestingly, Pepsico announced today that their Aunt Jemima brand will drop the image of a black woman on their pancake syrup.
The digital revolution will continue: IoT, AI, Big Data etc. This is one field where I feel at home. Costs are not an issue anymore. Available skill sets are lacking. This is where India will become a larger player in the world. With a young population it is a significant talent pool for the world.
Take a serious look at your supply chain, your resource use, energy costs, water consumption, available government subsidies etc. All Sustainability Development Goals are interlinked and have knock-on effects on each other.
Rather than sitting back and cutting costs, work overtime to see how you can steer your company towards a journey to more agility and a more sustainable world. If you don’t do it, your government will decide for you in time to come… An example of this is the current program by the Dutch government to buy out cattle and pig farmers in order to reduce nitrogen emission levels.
Make a difference. Turn the danger into an opportunity. It may save your company.