A time for resiliency and regeneration

By Rachel Brown

Autumn leaves
We certainly are living in interesting times. But these times will pass. And when we rebuild we’ll be able to create a better, more sustainable set of solutions and a system that enables regeneration to make our communities and planet healthier.

The Covid-19 pandemic is hitting many of us now and for some it’s feeling really hard.  Every few minutes I make or receive apologies, cancellations or notices from organisations now working remotely. I am hearing about businesses who are rushed off their feet and others in dire circumstances.

As Dame Anne Salmond said recently, “Covid-19 is not just a medical emergency, it is also a social and culture crisis. It will test our values to the core”. With this change obviously comes massive stress on jobs, individuals, families and on nature. So how we respond is really important.

As this plays out, I believe the pandemic brings with it an opportunity for us to redesign how we exist, both on the planet and as communities. At last year’s NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards I talked about the things I believed we were failing on: biodiversity loss, climate action, water quality and inequality to name a few. I also talked about the growing judgement of our children on our performance to address the biggest issue on their minds – climate change.

Let 2020 be the year we seize the opportunity to rethink how we live and work to find solutions to these issues. In nations where Covid-19 has hit hard there has at least been a silver lining: the mass cancellation of flights and other activity has resulted in the clearing of air and water – and along with this, reduction in emissions.

We’re adapting fast

As a team, SBN has responded quickly. We’re able to work remotely and keep in close contact with each other to make sure we are all being cared for. We are reshaping courses and forums into online formats and will let you know what that looks like very soon. We are also staying connected with people in our network, since the most important thing for those of us working in sustainability is that we KEEP GOING!

How do we do that?

As individuals

We can manage our own health through eating well, staying fit and adopting good self-care (washing hands, physical distancing, etc.) and by not living in fear. Fear is counterproductive and it also reduces your natural immunity. We need to keep in contact with our networks and help those struggling to get through.

As businesses

The first priority is staff health. Keep each other safe and adopt the behaviours the Ministry of Health is asking us to take on. Think about how staff are getting to and from work…prepare to work out of peak hours to avoid packed public transport services, or do more walking and cycling. For those that can, support your team to work from home easily. Supporting staff to have their own back-up plans is essential if our nation goes into isolation mode.

Your suppliers

Check in with suppliers and see how they are affected. Work with them to identify any risk areas and create a plan to keep your business operating through the next few months. If you can, now is a good time to look to local providers and suppliers – localise your supply chain.

Your customers

You might want to reflect on the support you can provide customers at this time. If work is being shelved now, it might be a good time to brainstorm with customers how you can offer help in new ways. Cancelled jobs bring more time, which means you may have the luxury of reshaping your organisation into one that is more resilient. Consider how you can support other local businesses.

Rethink your business model

This kind of disruption is likely to happen again. So rethink your business model now – how long can your business survive without income (do you have enough cashflow for the hard times)? How will you adjust when a shock like this happens again?

Keep spending

Now is a time to be generous to each other and nature. Support local businesses and really get behind those who are practising sustainability. Support our network and use this opportunity to shift into more resilient, low carbon, regenerative action. Many of our members provide services or products – so use them.

Nationally our Government has come up with a package for business. If you are one of the businesses struggling to pay staff during this time – PLEASE use this support. That is what good community is really about. This isn’t a time to be proud, we need to be ready to jump back into action (albeit with a new regenerative hat on) when Covid-19 is gone.

Let’s keep sustainability front and centre as we get through this time.

Instead of ‘social distancing’ let’s aim for ‘physical distancing’ to emphasis we need to stay connected. Let us know if we can help.