How has COVID-19 changed the role of sustainability for organizations?
Francesca Viliani, Director of Public Health and co-Head of Sustainability, Denmark
COVID-19 is the most wide-reaching public health crisis our world has faced in a long time. It has significantly impacted practically every aspect of business operations. COVID-19 has made three aspects very clear:
- The centrality of sustainability for business resilience. Companies that integrated sustainability and transparency strategically into their business operations prior to the COVID-19 crisis have put an even stronger focus on it now during the crisis. More importantly, they were much more agile in responding to unexpected events.
- From my perspective, health, safety and well-being became central to the resiliency and sustainability discussion in a way that it has never occurred before.
- Additionally, the role of partnerships; nobody can deal with a pandemic on their own.
As a public health specialist, I always engage with clients in discussions on what is most ‘healthy’ for them. I really like the WHO definition from 1946, “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social indwelling and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. It emphasis’s that health is a positive concept, an enabling factor, and a prerequisite for sustainable development. Just to reinforce this point further, the Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG 3) aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages. However, health is determined by complex interactions between various personal, social, economic, political, and environmental factors. SDG 3 is therefore closely interlinked with all the other SDGs and central to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.