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What will be the role of business in ensuring a green recovery from COVID-19?

By Celia Willoughby
23rd June 2020

Business have a crucial part to play in ensuring that the economic recovery from COVID-19 is a green one.

We attended June’s CDP Global workshop series and joined the discussion on the interplay between the pandemic and the environment and how business can step to ensure the pandemic doesn’t slow down our net zero ambitions.

The beginning of June marked CDP’s Global workshop series, which delved into the importance of continued environmental management in times of uncertainty.

It was comprised of three main pillars: the Global Stakeholder Forum, Regional Workshops, and Capacity-Building webinars. Guest speakers ranged from governmental figures, company representatives and NGOs.

How policy and government is changing

A key theme arising from the workshop series was on the interplay between the pandemic and a degrading global natural environment. As populations and industries expand, we are encroaching more on the physical environment. The continued interaction between humans and wild animals will, in turn, make the likelihood of zoonotic viruses infecting human populations ever more frequent. There is vital importance, therefore, to ensure a green economic recovery post-COVID.

The consensus throughout the Global workshop series was that the pandemic has shown that global risks need global solutions. The UK now finds itself in a unique position to ramp-up climate action at home and supercharge the international response to climate change abroad. To achieve systemic change, we need better reporting through platforms such as CDP, better risk management, and finally integration into financial returns. Nick Baker, from the COP26 cabinet office called upon UK companies to set net zero targets, science-based targets, and commit to RE100.

Internationally, we are beginning to see governments embrace new green economic models. At the Global Stakeholder Forum, Frank Tazelaar, Head of Sustainability at the City of Amsterdam, gave insight in how Amsterdam is spearheading the ‘doughnut’ model to mend a post-COVID economy.  Involving integration of the UN’s sustainable development goals to set a basic standard of living, whilst setting an ecological ceiling drawn up by earth-system scientists, it is a green economic system designed to ensure everyone’s needs and that of the planet are being met.


Beyond policy; how stakeholders and supply chains must be transformed

But the green economic recovery is not just a concern for policy makers; it also requires a broad range of environmental stakeholders to support holistic action. Anirban Ghosh, CFO of the Mahindra Group stated, “if COVID-19 has taught us one thing it’s that we are living beyond nature’s boundaries”. Indeed, speakers from the workshops highlighted the importance of a climate-water-forest nexus that looks holistically at environmental action, as well as fostering collaboration between organisations, policy makers, and other stakeholders. As stated by Esther An, CSO of City Developments Limited, “No organisation or entity can save the world alone, so one of the biggest priorities must be stakeholder and supply chain management, to do it together”.

For companies, collaboration is key between customers and suppliers looking to build more resilient supply chains in times of uncertainty. A resilient supply chain comes from “embedding” sustainability into the organisation’s way of working with suppliers. For example, this could include engaging with suppliers to create supplier-specific methodologies to calculate scope 3 emissions.

As a sobering reminder of the importance of fast climate action, Nigel Topping of COP26 rounded up by stating: “even global net zero emissions by 2050 only gives us a 50% chance of success to stay at 1.5 degrees warming”. We need to do more, faster, bigger, better, stronger, together.

Contact Us:

Is your business prepared to respond to CDP and raise your climate ambition? Our team are here to support, email [email protected]