Global Recovery Takes New MeaningBy Sofía Hanna | Wed, 07/28/2021 - 10:37
Building a more sustainable world has taken a new meaning during the pandemic, with many seeking that the social and economic reconstruction after COVID-19 is sustainable and resilient to protect people and the planet. During the “High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2021,” the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) discussed strategies to achieve this goal.
The forum was organized by the governments of Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Saint Lucia and Uruguay, along with ECLAC. Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC, highlighted how the pandemic already caused devastation, conditioned development and exacerbated pre-existing structural problems, and that is before the lack of vaccines. This situation should be handled by taking it as an opportunity to rebuild while transforming productive structures in line with the 2030 Agenda, explained Bárcena. “We cannot continue doing things the same way and expect different results.”
A sustainable environmental approach requires more initiatives that follow through with the recuperation goal, such as the Escazú Agreement. This agreement, as previously mentioned in MBN, is the first to protect the rights of environmentalists. “This is an unprecedented agreement that protects both present and future generations. With 24 signatory countries, 12 States Parties and after a ratification process that was swifter than expected, the Escazú Agreement went into effect on April 22, 2021. This shows the region’s firm commitment to the Agreement and the will of Latin American and Caribbean countries to implement its provisions,” said Bárcena.
According to the International Finance Corporation (IFC), even before the COVID-19 pandemic, companies and their boards had begun to reevaluate their roles and responsibilities, shifting from a focus on short-term shareholder value toward a more comprehensive view of all stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers and the communities in which these companies operate. Sustainability considerations are becoming an important element when it comes to investments and the preference of customers. “The pandemic has accelerated this trend, as sustainability becomes front-and-center for companies seeking to strengthen their resilience,” as mentioned in the IFC “Lessons Learned on Leading Through Crisis and Recovering Stronger.”
To be socially responsible, companies should be “complying with local laws and going above and beyond them. Companies must understand their impact and incorporate social and environmental objectives alongside their commercial goals. Today, consumers and employees are more demanding and they are starting to ask companies to do more than just philanthropic approaches,” said Odile Cortés, Operations Director at IntegraRSE, in an interview with MBN. Companies must have quality products, but they should also have quality in the business itself, which can be seen in their ethical behavior, environmental responsibilities and social benefits. “Together, we can raise standards for good governance,” said Janet Ranganathan of the World Resources Institute.