I had big dreams for 2020. I approached the new decade with a spirit of adventure and new beginnings. My monthly networking group for purpose-driven entrepreneurs in Reading was beginning to take off, I was about to launch a new coaching business and I had plans to run off grid retreats with friends around the globe.
It seemed the world was my oyster and then the Pandemic hit. Suddenly the world as I thought I knew it changed. And the rest, as they say, is already ‘unprecedented’ history!
We have all seen to a greater or lesser extent the tremendous loss, hardship and upheaval that Covid-19 has left in its wake. The virus appears to have done it’s best to ‘cancel Christmas’ by prohibiting freedom of movement in many places, something even the wars of the last century were unable to achieve. The indications are that the pandemic will continue to cause emotional, mental, social and economic fallout for most of us for some time to come.
And yet out of crisis comes opportunity and my vision for the future builds on the positive outcomes that have already started and, I believe, will continue to unfold to create a better, cleaner and more ethical world for all.
As many of the old structures and paradigms start to crumble, we have had the breathing space to question why things are the way they are and to find more meaning and purpose to life. Consumers are increasingly wanting to buy from ethical suppliers who can demonstrate they really care about social, economic and environmental issues rather than just say they do. People are choosing to say no to jobs that don’t fulfil them and find work that has more meaning. The ability to work from home, run businesses virtually and save hours of travelling time has facilitated this movement.
More and more businesses are looking at their corporate social responsibility and aligning their purpose to one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
These developments create many new opportunities for us to achieve the UN SDGs by 2030 and transform the way we live for better and so that no-one is left behind.
Digital means of working and collaborating have literally opened up the globe to many of us, enabling us to meet and have conversations with people we may never have met if it were not for lockdown My monthly entrepreneur social events before Covid were effectively limited to people who lived in a 20-mile radius of my local town Reading. Since March we have welcomed visitors from as far afield as Canada, India and South Africa.
This coming together of like-minded people from around the world proves for me something that I have always believed about humanity: that stereotypes are a figment of our limited imaginations and that we are so much more connected than we realise. Whatever our ethnicity, nationality, gender, financial situation, we have infinitely more in common to unite us than we have differences to divide us.
So how do we build on the positives that are rising from the ashes of the pandemic?
I see three main areas of focus for both Reading and our collective world that are achievable by the end of this decade – if not before.
- Entrepreneurship will increase as people start to realise, they can create their own jobs around the changing needs and desires of customers and consumers.
- Technology including Artificial intelligence and Augmented Reality enables individuals to serve global markets from the comfort of their own home office or bedroom.
- Ethical investing becomes mainstream and companies are valued based on stakeholder value and profit optimisation, rather than shareholder value and profit maximisation at any cost.
- Communal life will return to heart of our city centres. Visitors will come with the intention of enjoying the human experiences of food, art, craft and performance rather than for the sole purpose of buying goods.
- Disused commercial property will be repurposed into residential living space helping to rejuvenate city centres and reduce the inner-city housing shortages.
- People will continue to remember what really matters and make more time to commune and listen to each other.
- All businesses will measure the environmental cost of doing business and will innovate and collaborate to become more planet positive.
- The move to service-based economies means that manufacturing of non-recyclable and non-biodegradable products and consumables will cease. We will all live in circular economies and ecosystems and wonder why it took us so long.
- Humans will appreciate and remember that we are part of nature, not superior or external to it. Communities will realise that harmonious co-existence with nature and wildlife is the only viable option.
I believe the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals give individuals, businesses, communities and countries a global framework and common frame of reference to ‘build back better’ for the good of all. Millions of us are waking up to the fact that no-one will rescue the planet for us. We must each stand up and take responsibility for the good that is within our control.
Many of us during this pandemic have discovered that we have powerful voices and started to express to ourselves and to others what really matters to us and the legacy we want to leave to our children.
If you are not familiar yet with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, start with #17 Partnership for the Goals because we can only re-establish Active Economies, Beautiful Societies and a Clean Planet by all of us working together.
We have a window of opportunity over the next 9 years of this decade to build on the positives of Covid-19 starting NOW.
Sue Jackson is the founder of Reading Entrepreneur Social monthly networking events and co-founder of Future Proof Your Business. Email: [email protected].