Business as unusual, reshaping the present and the future

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26 March, 2020


Insights from the CEO


Business response to COVID-19

In the world of sustainable development, it is often said that business as usual is no longer viable. Little did we know, even a few months ago, that the world would be battling a global pandemic. The scale of disruption is unprecedented; almost nothing in our lifetimes has affected entire societies around the world so drastically. Few companies were prepared for the speed of the onset or the potential economic fall-out.

At the moment, it’s hard to predict how the situation will unfold, how many lives are at stake, livelihoods endangered, how much time it will take to bounce back to “normal” (if we ever get back to it) or how deep the resulting economic recession may get.

It is good to see that most governments are now first and foremost focused on slowing down the spreading of the disease and shoring up medical support systems to aid those who fall seriously ill.

For business, it is an equally pivotal moment to deploy all its care, critical know-how, reach and resources. Businesses everywhere are looking after their employees and creating contingency plans to map the risks in their operations. At the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), we see business in and outside our membership demonstrating their responsibility towards society. We have started sharing examples on our website as a reference of positive business leadership during these challenging times

But we need more if the world is to respond to and learn from this crisis.

Times like these demand bold leadership and action. Our collective commitment to stakeholder capitalism is being put to a test. It is for this reason that WBCSD is stepping up to the challenge to address this crisis and support the critical role of business.

WBCSD has both the responsibility and the opportunity to act at this critical point of time. That is why, in consultation with our Executive Committee (ExCo), we have set up a COVID-19 Response Program, driven by the belief that the Council has both the responsibility and the opportunity to act at this critical point of time. WBCSD’s call to action to leverage our combined business expertise is centered on three areas and focused projects:

  • Vital Supply Chains – with a focus on short-term supply chain resilience plan, starting with the food system
  • Return to “Normal” Scenarios – with a focus on employee health and business recovery
  • Long-term Impacts – with a focus on COVID-19 vulnerabilities revealed by the crisis & lessons for future resilience and stakeholder capitalism

During these difficult times, it is crucial to support each other, work together and do what business does best: respond fast. It is equally essential to continue our work on sustainable development. The world needs immediate business actions to address the crisis and shape the future. And you can count on WBCSD to help lead these efforts.

For more information, please contact Linda Jonker