The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has shown the unsustainability of businesses within economies. A considerable number of businesses have already shut down or declared bankruptcy. To most people, a sustainable business is a business with sound financial health. But from what the current events have hopefully taught, we have no control over the outcome of any actions on the environment and ensuring the safety and well being of the people is necessary for a sustainable business and a sustainable economy. The coronavirus affects people and the environment (considering it gets into the air we breathe); a poor environment impacts people’s well being. Without people, human-made systems do not function and economies are affected – our current scenario.
How COVID-19 has affected people and impacted business
Take the sports industry; for example, before 2020, all we heard or read about were the industry’s economic growth projections. Forbes wrote that the sports market in North America was worth $60.5 billion in 2014, and by 2019, is expected to reach $73.5 billion. The New York times about the sustainability of the industry said that in the past, the sports business has mostly proven to be somewhat recession-proof because most significant sports organizations weathered the economic fallout of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the financial crisis in 2008.
The coronavirus era has negated this perspective, and the sports industry has unfortunately not weathered the storm in 2020. According to ESPN, the sudden disappearance of sports will erase at least $12 billion in revenue and hundreds of thousands of jobs. This economic catastrophe will more than double if the college football and NFL schedules are wiped out this fall by the effect of coronavirus pandemic. These past months, I observed sports games shown on television without people in the stands. No crowds are cheering the teams, and there are no food stands, and memorabilia stands at the games. The players’ grunts and chatter are more audibly now, and the energy the players get from the crowd is non-existent. It is almost like you are watching their practice sessions as opposed to a live game.
COVID-19 pandemic, a small window to the impact awaiting us, if little or no action is taking to mitigate environmental pollution and climate change
As previously stated, COVID-19 has impacted every industry, and we finally understand the need to ensure the health and well being of the people. But from what I have observed, our focus is unilateral as always. We are only working on mitigating the risk of the COVID -19 pandemic and similar infectious diseases pandemic that may arise in the future. What about other impending calamities that are slowing brewing in the background? Imagine a situation where part of our eco-system is ailing, and the rest is at risk bearing in mind that the eco-system consists of not only people but also the environment, where all living things and non-living things reside, and our sustenance comes. This scenario is our current situation, but are we panicking and taking urgent steps to mitigate the situation?
The full impacts of our constant pollution of the environment and climate change on our lives will devastate the sports industry and every other industry. I wrote about these impacts specific to the sports industry in 2016 and republished it again in 2019, highlighting the risk of inaction, but I didn’t notice any changes until the COVID-19 pandemic. Our reluctance to create processes, programs and projects that sustainably mitigates climate change and address environmental degradation is leading us to unimaginable catastrophic consequences.
The need to revisit business sustainability
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has shown the unsustainability of businesses within economies. As we create our new normal, it is paramount that we revisit our definition of sustainability not just to be financial sustainability, but to include environmental sustainability and social sustainability in our business model. We should be looking at building a more sustainable future for ourselves and our future generations. A future where environmental, economic, social (peoples well being) concerns have equal footing in all decision making processes in all sectors (government, public and private) and on an individual level.
These days, people throw the term sustainability flippantly without understanding what actions need to take place towards its achievement. The UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable development is a guide on how, together, we can achieve sustainability by meeting the 17 Sustainability Development Goals. A good number of people think the goals are wishful thinking and are just playing along to access the funds available. Still, I believe we can meet them if we take them seriously and implement programs and projects to that effect.