The Covid-19 pandemic has brought environmental concerns into sharp focus. Today’s business leaders must factor sustainability into their recovery strategies, and treasurers have an essential role to play in reshaping the future of the global economy.
Despite the shadow cast on the global economy by the pandemic, a silver lining is starting to emerge. Following 2017, when consumption of natural resources exceeded 100 billion tonnes for the first time , 2020 saw a sharp decline in consumption rate. It dropped by 9.3% compared with the same period last year, according to the international non-profit organisation Global Footprint Network .
However, scientists have made it clear that this is an opportunity to change, rather than the beginning of a solution. The declining consumption rate is likely the result of short-term pandemic-related restrictions rather than a long-term change in attitude. Corporates have a chance to seize this opportunity for change, however, as actions that they take today can positively affect sustainability in both the short- and long-term.
Dr Roland Mees, Director of Sustainable Finance, ING, describes a necessary expansion of outlook as a consideration of the “phenomenological horizon” – a field of view that addresses short-term and long-term demands through present-day action. “Sustainability is still something remote – outside our phenomenological horizon,” he explains. “These sustainability policies we talk about have to be so complete and tangible that they enter into this horizon.”