DISCUSSING COVID-19 AS A CATALYST TO SUSTAINABLE CHANGE: What can we expect post-pandemic?YolandaAD
As of last night, COVID-19 became a harsh reality to millions of South Africans. South Africa joins the long list of countries to initiate mass quarantines in the hopes of slowing down the infection rates. Witnessing COVID-19 gain ground across the world since its discovery in Wuhan, China in December 2019 has had us anticipating life during and post this health pandemic.
A disease as major as COVID-19 can be significantly transformative for the future, and already there have been major changes in the economy, politics, the workplace, and even the climate.
Many governments around the world have been forced to drift away from the norms if they are to fight the spread of COVID-19. First on the agenda? Limiting the amount of people on the streets. This includes allowing employees to work from home to avoid them potentially contracting the disease or infecting others, thus flattening the curve. Companies have had to make use of videoconferencing and remote work in trying to meet government leaders halfway. This has given rise to the more frequent use of social media platforms and video technologies such as Skype for work purposes. Business leaders will come to see that employee productivity is not only achieved in a central office.
Secondly, with China being the first country to go on lockdown many countries have had to look to them for guidance during crisis. Many Chinese nationals will tell you that even though the halt on production and social time has been difficult, China’s socialist market economy proved to be a shining light amidst the darkness. During this time, Chinese citizens have never had to worry about the pause on the economy affecting their livelihoods because the government was able to compensate them due to their socialist society.
Many capitalist countries initiating mass quarantines have had to apply anti-capitalist politics. This is in a bid to cushion the economic blow the virus will have on citizens. Furthermore, Covid has put capitalism to the test with many companies having to implement paid leave- whether sick or indefinite. Seemingly impossible socialist ideas suddenly become possible when the results will aid workers and small businesses in meeting their financial obligations in a bid to protect their livelihoods.
COVID-19 has also had a huge impact on the environment. National shutdowns across the globe have resulted in a decrease in global activity and production. As a result, many environmentalists have recorded a drop in air pollution levels. With the bombardment of energy production, especially since the industrial revolution, the rise of emission and gases has only intensified. So, the idea of the world slowing down energy production to contain infection has given the climate some room to breathe.
While the virus will leave some smoke in its tracks, the disruption could lead to a more sustainable world. Socialist ideas, office decentralization and a sharp rise in e-commerce could be the saving grace for not only global society but for climate change as well. History has shown us that huge global pandemics, be it war or economic recessions, have given rise to more efficient and sustainable change. COVID-19 doesn’t seem to be any different.
About the Author:
Yolanda Gossel is the Founder and Programme Director at Five Tulips, a South African based sustainability and corporate social investment (CSI) consultancy. Five Tulips forges partnerships between communities, public and private sectors and individuals for social upliftment and preservation of our planets resources and ecosystems.
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