The Covid-19 outbreak is the most disruptive global event since the 1918 flu pandemic, the Great Depression of the 1930s and the 1940s-50s polio epidemic. Businesses and workers are suffering immediate and lasting effects.
The pandemic’s constraints on nearly every sector of the economy have resulted in massive drops in global emissions of greenhouse gases, and many environmental and economic commentators agree that this side-effect of Covid-19 is good for air quality, human health and the environment, especially with respect to climate change.
But putting people out of jobs and bankrupting businesses is not true sustainability.
So what are the effects of Covid-19 really telling us about the economy? One answer is that how we go about our daily work and recreation will have to change for good – so that everyone now and in the future works in a job that protects people and the environment.
This means we need to identify right now what every job would look like if it were a green job and take informed steps to make a “just transition” towards that state.
What’s a “just transition”? It’s a process developed by the trade union movement and endorsed by the UN’s Environment Programme and International Labour Organisation which sets out a range of social interventions that secure workers’ rights and livelihoods as sectors of the economy shift to “green jobs”, delivering products and services in ways that combat climate change and protect biodiversity.
We have our own Just Transition Unit in New Zealand: modelled on the original unit in Brussels, it’s focused on transitioning Taranaki’s energy sector into sustainable energy.
Yes, in the transition, there will be sustainability sunset sectors – jobs that will go because the costs of their social and environmental externalities are too high for ecosystems and the economy to bear.
Equally there will be – and already are – rapidly-growing numbers of sustainability sunrise sectors; existing jobs that are transformed or totally new jobs that are created which are good for people and places.
Covid-19 provides yet another impetus for us to get stuck in to making an orderly transition to the net-zero-carbon ecosystem-based economy. It offers a unique opportunity for what is really only a short window of time for us to work out how our business can green itself now, to be ready for a truly sustainable recovery from the pandemic.
And while New Zealanders will of course bring their own creativity and originality to this process, we don’t need to invent it all from scratch.
How do we define sustainable businesses? They are the ones that will come back from the pandemic by providing green jobs – jobs that the United Nations defines as:
- reduce consumption of energy and raw materials
- limit greenhouse gas emissions
- minimize waste and pollution
- protect and restore ecosystems
- contribute to climate change adaptation.
But exactly HOW do we transform every job into a green job in a way that is fair and just?
By environmental training. Strategic environmental training tailored to a sustainability road map for each sector. Operational environmental training delivered by the experts in and on that sector.
We’ve never needed environmental training more now, to ensure our economic, social, cultural and ecological transition is a just one. That’s why I founded the Environment and Sustainability Strategic Training Institute, with its strapline, “Learning for Life on Earth”.
That’s why I wrote the second edition of my book “How to Change the World – a practical guide to successful environmental training”. Together with its free Action Planner, 30 free resources and extensive references from all around the world, my book helps you to answer the following questions:
- What do we need to know to be more sustainable?
- What do we do first?
- Who can help?
- What will a just transition look like for my sector and the people and businesses in it?
What will you do to build a sustainable future for your people, your business, your environments?
Build it now. Contact me. There’s never been a better time.
http://modelsmethod.info/2020-series/leadership-uncertain-times – this is brilliant!