Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has released a white paper on the Environmental Implications of COVID-19 that suggests we are at a critical fork in the road. One direction may focus on economic growth and financial profit at any cost, whilst on the other route “natural, human and social capital is valued above man-made capital, where progress is defined by people’s actual well-being, rather than solely by, economic growth or financial profit?”.
Are companies going to abandon planned green initiatives in a bid to bounce back or are they going to embrace Sustainable Development Goals and renewable energy? Is big business compliance and monitoring going to be ignored while they pursue harmful policies in the name of recovery? Will COVID-19 be a catalyst to different public policy decision making?
This paper discusses building back better.
- Recognising the biosphere as the cornerstone of human well-being, with intrinsic relationships to human health and nutrition, and to the regulation of the planetary systems upon which almost every aspect of human life depends. Furthermore, the biosphere has a right to exist and flourish irrespective of any recognisable dependence humans have on it.
- Redefining the idea of human nature. People are innately altruistic, empathetic, caring and cooperative, rather than just the individualistic and competitive ‘economic beings’ and consumers they are assumed and conditioned to be in many parts of the world. The pandemic has restored values such as appreciation of key workers, spending time with families and communities, spending time in nature. Many people have a deep connection to their environment, over and above the immediate benefits it provides.
- Redesigning economic frameworks to focus on the promotion of human well-being and equality within clear environmental and social boundaries, rather than on GDP, economic growth and capital accumulation, which are poor substitutes for well-being. Man-made capital is ultimately dependent on the nature that underpins it. Markets can have a role in delivering human well-being, but it has to be a limited role.
- Matching political frameworks to the new economic frameworks. Governments need to be leaders. They need to focus on their fundamental responsibility to protect citizens and public assets, including health systems and the environment. The post-Covid stimulus packages represent the opportunity to put in place the new frameworks.
- Incentivising businesses to rewrite their social contract, addressing the increasing distrust in them shown by society. Demonstration of a net positive impact on society and the environments they operate in should be a prerequisite for operation. Companies that demonstrably benefit the Sustainable Development Goals through environmental, social and governance metrics should be supported and rewarded. Companies that do not should be penalised and reformed.
Read the full paper here written by
FFI coordinates the Kerinci Seblat Tiger Protection and Conservation Units in Sumatra that has received an annual grant from WildCats and before that 21st Century Tiger since 2000.