We know that we can buy less, use less, work from home, drive less, collaborate more; and have business, society and government move faster — because we just did all of that. How can we respond as powerfully and courageously to other super-critical threats?
As the world was pulled into the event horizon of a global pandemic, the gaping holes in human systems for wealth, healthcare, food, housing security, and business stability came into real focus for the first time since the Great Depression. The COVID-19 pandemic showed the world that we are far more vulnerable, unequal and deeply connected than we realized.
COVID’s acute effects have been enormous: We’ve seen 400 million jobs lost worldwide and a reeling global economy, plus the potential demise of tens of millions of small businesses that don’t have the reserves to make it through even a few months of falling economic activity.
These acute harms would be bad enough, but the coronavirus also exposed how bad our pre-existing conditions were as a world.
A wildly inadequate social infrastructure has left millions unable to pay for basic necessities, at risk of losing access to healthcare; and created mile-long lines for food even in some of the world’s wealthiest cities. And, of course, the climate crisis continues to add to the challenges we now face: From a record high above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 C) north of the Arctic Circle to 121 record-high temperatures in 2020 (against just one record low) in three cities in south Florida, increased heat seems to be exacerbating risks ranging from diseases to oil spills.
The role of business in the racial justice and equity movement
Hear more from some of the organizations, large and small, that are taking authentic action and making long-term, systemic commitments to creating diverse, equitable workforces at Just Brands '21 — May 11-12.
And while the pandemic exposed these vulnerabilities and the desperate need to mitigate them, it also put on display some remarkable qualities; and humanity’s ability to rise to the challenge in a time of emergency.
Clearly, when a major threat is perceived, the majority of humans can change behavior, put their livelihoods at risk, and think of others’ safety before their own. We are capable of moving with incredible speed and urgency to address emergencies. And when needed, we can cut through the noise and gamesmanship to do it.
We know that we can buy less, use less, work from home, drive less, collaborate more; and have business, society and government move faster — because we just did all of that.
The question then becomes: How can we respond as powerfully and courageously to other super-critical threats?
Two years ago, the IPCC gave us a deadline by which we must keep global warming under 1.5˚C (2.7˚F) or face truly devastating effects from climate change. But where are the trillion-dollar initiatives, the businesses acting in the global best interests regardless of quarterly earnings, the governments asking the public to dramatically cut carbon, or the public itself demanding an end to fossil fuel consumption?
Since the COVID crisis began, many thought leaders have seen the opportunity for real change now that these issues have been exposed so dramatically to the world. Some have clearly laid out the changes that must be made in a post-COVID world — how we must not allow ourselves to return to the horses we rode into this disaster on.
If we had the collective will to make needed changes — as we did with COVID-19, they say — this is what we would do.
And yet, for all the roadmaps and discussions of how to structure the future, it will require a dramatic shift in action to get these changes adopted. Real, concrete, immediate, impactful, catalytic, meaningful action.
Enter: the COVID Covenant, created by myself and a group of top business and sustainability thought leaders — Andrew Winston, Hunter Lovins, Gil Friend, Catherine Greener, Dr. John Izzo, Daniel Kreeger, Amy Larkin, Phillip Clawson, P.J. Simmons, Daniel Kempner and others. The Covenant is an ironclad commitment that the signatory — individual, organization, municipality — will immediately begin influencing, catalyzing, refusing to go back to ‘normal.’ Signatories commit to not going back; but rather — with the same speed, scale, scope and courage we saw in response to COVID — to going big and going now towards a regenerative future.
Here is the COVID Covenant:
We know what we have to do, and we know that we can. Join us in doing it! Sign the COVID Covenant, or learn more, at valutus.com/covid-covenant.