2020 IN REVIEW – THE YEAR OF CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
The world has gone through numerous pandemics and economic and social downturns - but none of them can be fully compared with Covid-19.
It is characterised by the immense extent of rapidly occurring and globally parallel perceptible interactions between systems on our planet and their possibly existential effects on every single state and every single person.
Covid-19 reveals the high degree of interconnection and fragility of our systems (economic, health and social), as well as their close interdependence with ecological systems.
With its multiple and existentially threatening interactions, the crisis is a warning signal, also with regard to the urgency of sustainable development. Sustainability strategies are being put on new "starting blocks" by the pandemic.
In this article, we're looking at seven key concepts and trends that will shape the post-Covid future and how they resonate with our company.
Return of trust in science
We all witness how science and technology can be utilised in the best way possible to address the Covid-19 crisis. First Biontech/Pfizer, then Moderna and AstraZeneca. Recently presented studies showing the results of vaccine candidates are fueling hopes. This promising news came only in a matter of months, which proves that we should never stray from science and technology.
The advice of science is more important than ever in this pandemic. And the more willing we are to hear that advice and heed it, the sooner we will be able to overcome this crisis.
It's crucial to bring science and society into an even closer exchange beyond the current challenges of Covid-19.
Scientists have been warning that the pending climate crisis will be much more severe than the pandemic. By grounding themselves in science, governments, businesses and NGOs have to come together to put sustainability at the core of their strategies to avert this crisis. Using the power of science and technology is not just vital to our business, but to our existence as well.
Without the pandemic, social changes associated with access to new technologies to preserve the planet will continue to be very slow to introduce in the global marketplace.
The idea of combating unsustainable forms of business gained momentum with Covid-19 and tore down many barriers that were previously difficult to break.
Innovation is the foundation of progress. The constant questioning of the status quo and the renewal of the foundations of our prosperity releases the creative potential that is necessary to tackle global challenges.
The nature of the world we live in makes it increasingly clear that progress must be considered not only in terms of technology and economy but also more socially and ecologically.
Sustainability is a driver for innovation. It demands and promotes the development of completely new solutions and approaches that balance ecological, social and financial aspects.
The pandemic has shown how closely the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals have linked and the extraordinary potential of responsible innovation in establishing new ways of dealing with future challenges such as the climate crisis.
Acceleration & Agility
Our society is in the midst of a paradigm shift that - just like climate change - is happening much faster than we can imagine. Within days, completely new business models are springing up at an impressive rate.
In the past decade, there is no other word that made the headlines more often than agility. If the focus is really on meeting people’s needs better, faster and more precisely, agility is more than a buzzword, and the Covid-19 pandemic has proven that it’s a building block of an organisation’s success in turbulent times.
As a company operating across the globe, we have an agile and flexible approach to deal with such challenges. Our agility is manifested in joining forces with some of the biggest names in technology, aviation and defence, in a model example of cross-industry collaboration, to undertake the mass production of life-saving mechanical ventilators.
Flexibility, openness, adaptability, curiosity, willingness and joy to communicate are certainly helpful and necessary properties in the context of agility. And although a long-term strategy is essential in maintaining sustainability, we have to overcome the “tragedy of long-term goals” that seduce us into promising urgently needed measures for the future, but not tackling them in the here and now.
Interconnectedness & Collaboration
Even before the Covid-19 crisis, we had the feeling that we were in an age of transition. Due to globalisation, worldwide networking and interaction is constantly increasing. We live in a diverse world in which there are many competing values and interests that influence one another.
The truth is that the issues we’re currently facing are deeply interconnected, so it would be a huge mistake to evaluate them individually. The same holds true for every bump in the road towards climate action.
One of the most important outcomes of this pandemic has been the need for close collaboration across countries, communities and industries and how this can foster technology and innovation to address the pressing issues of our time.
We have observed firsthand that collective action can have a real impact, and people can make sacrifices for the collective good in an emergency. This has given us hope in tackling other environmental problems, particularly the climate crisis because sustainability is a joint effort.
A lot of the things we took for granted before the pandemic are not possible at the moment, and it has been overwhelming for most of us. However, trying to hold on to what once was keeps us away from taking the necessary action required to make the world a better place, and this needs radical rethinking, both privately and professionally.
The outbreak is largely related to peoples’ lifestyles and behaviours that are not sustainable. We need a comprehensive social transformation that covers the entire way we live, work and consume as well as how we experience the world and ourselves in it. This should be the new normal.
So, the question that we want to leave you with here is:
“How can we make grandchild-friendly actions the new normal? or how can we become part of the solution instead of further exacerbating the problems through familiar, climate-unfriendly routines?”
Speech is silver, and silence is golden. But not when acting on a purpose. It’s all about finding your purpose in life, the value you can deliver for whatever you’re doing, sparking conversation around the things that matter the most – for you as a leader, for your organisation, for your home & family, for the mother earth.
During the pandemic, companies have realised more than ever that sustainability is a must for the future of humanity and a profitable business model. Consumers are not only actively looking for products that address these global and environmental issues — they are willing to pay more for them too.
Edelman’s Trust Barometer suggests that trust is now the make or break difference for brands. Consumers want companies to take a stand on the personal and societal issues that affect their lives. The results are striking: 89% of consumers think that a purpose-driven company will deliver the highest quality of products and services, and 82% of consumers prefer socially responsible brands.
This really is a defining moment for purpose-led businesses. In line with this perspective, Arçelik strives to be a purpose-led organisation and create shared value by developing fit-for-purpose solutions for key global issues.
The concept of resilience looks for factors that enable systems, individuals or societies to survive radical upheavals or even to grow with them.
Sustainability and resilience, on the other hand, are two sides of the same coin. A growing number of investors become interested in companies with strong ESG performance, and more companies are jumping on the train. As of early 2020, nearly 1,200 institutions across world, representing over $14 trillion in assets under management, have pledged to divest from their investments in coal, oil, and gas companies. Combined inflows to both active and passive ESG-focused funds amounted to $71.1 billion in the second quarter, putting global assets under management for the first time above $1 trillion. Proving that sustainable business is good business, companies with a strong ESG profile generate relatively stable earnings even in the current situation. They will overcome the crisis more quickly and be better able to cope with its consequences.
It is important to understand the connections between sustainability transformations and resilience even better, even beyond the consideration of extreme events.
Resilience across the entire value chain is only possible by responding quickly and in a targeted manner to opportunities that arise again and again, especially in crisis situations.