Many are worried that sustainability will not be prioritised as societies and businesses are gradually recovering from the effects of the pandemic. Such concerns are based on the observation that companies as well as consumers are struggling just to survive and that any investments whatsoever in sustainability will be considered a non-affordable luxury.
Not since the shocking events of 9/111 have global supply chains been so systematically and unceremoniously devastated. No one could foresee the actions that unfolded that day which, within just twenty-four hours, brought air travel to a halt, locked down countries within their own borders and brought to a virtual standstill trading in all but the most vertically integrated businesses. Fortunately, the cause was quickly identified, contained and with the ongoing acceptance of some restrictions on our personal freedoms while travelling abroad normality quickly resumed. By contrast, COVID-19 has proven itself to be a tougher enemy. It is harder to contain, has shown contempt for international boundaries, market sectors or the size of businesses it affects. To deal with its transmission the UK has been on lockdown since 23rd March 2020. At best, for all but essential front-line workers, this has meant transferring all business operations to a “virtual world” involving aspects of self-isolation, social distancing and remote team working. In the extreme, it has meant the systematic mothballing of all business operations, temporary closure of business premises and the furloughing or in some cases complete loss of staff. Whilst devastating enough, the process of lockdown is nowhere near as complicated and difficult to navigate as that of returning a business and its supply chain to full trading status in the uncertain times of the “new normal” that now surrounds us.