You and your business are moving into a new reality. Your supply chains, your workforce, your sales, and your financial health are affected. You may also need to check that your governance, risk management, and regulatory controls are still fit for purpose. Even if your companies have managed to stay in business and perhaps even expand, you will face new challenges.
As you lead your business and your people through all these changes, you should rethink every aspect of your business, from your business model to your strategy. You will want to review and rebuild your resilience and identify any growth opportunities.
In our Rethink Hub, you'll find plenty of tips and practical guidance to help you rethink the way you work.
How does COVID-19 affect the environment?
The impact of COVID-19 on the environment was varied. Although the pandemic has led to improvements in environmental conditions, there have been other negative effects, some obvious and others less so.
In short, the positive effects are reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved water quality, reduced noise pollution, improved air quality, and in some cases restoration of wildlife habitats. Negative effects are increased medical waste, haphazard disposal of protective equipment, increased municipal waste, and reduced recycling efforts.
While the world has agreed on an international investigation into the origin, handling, and response to the virus, the results of which are likely to be seen for many years, many have concluded that the cause of the global pandemic is the result of human activity, such as deforestation, animal trade, and increased urbanization. Although medical advances have prevented many epidemics, many speculated that it was only a matter of time before a global pandemic of this magnitude occurred.
COVID-19 has become one of the most widespread zoonoses, leading to 1.5 million deaths in less than a year.
COVID-19 is the latest of several recent zoonotic diseases in humans and shows how human health and nature are closely intertwined. Interaction with nature could expose humans to a range of animal diseases. Namely, about three to four new infectious diseases appear every year, most of which originate from wild animals. Over the past 30 years, approximately 60-70% of new human diseases have been zoonotic in origin. The rise in zoonotic outbreaks is a sign of the breakdown in the relationship between humans and nature and is likely to worsen.
The drastically increasing amount of household and medical waste is one of the key negative outcomes of COVID-19. Coronavirus waste has become a new form of global pollution. Adopted quarantine, isolation, and social distancing led to a corresponding increase in the amount of solid waste from households (15-25%) and a significant increase in the generation of medical waste in healthcare institutions (from 10 to 20 times).
Since the beginning of 2020, a huge amount of disinfectant has been applied to roads, businesses, and residential areas to eradicate the COVID-19 virus. These disinfectants can kill non-target beneficial species and create an ecological imbalance. Many disinfectants and antiseptics, such as hand soap that contains a high percentage of the hormone-disrupting pesticide triclosan (TSC - triclosan turns into dioxin, a highly toxic compound when exposed to sunlight), naturally find their way into our water systems.
Increased waste caused by COVID-19 has also affected waste management (WM) systems. Reduced employment/workers reduced recycling efforts further exacerbating the challenges of general waste collection and disposal. Municipal budgets have been weakened due to increased health care costs and the implementation of social security regulations. Several governments have imposed restrictions on the volume of recycling activities to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.
There were still so many direct and indirect consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic that will be realized in the coming months and even years, but what is visible even in the short term is the urgency for us all to stand up and think about how we can play a role in protecting and rehabilitating the earth's biodiversity which is currently balancing on a knife's edge.
Rebuilding with sustainability in mind will be key to our future prosperity. Below are eight possible strategies that should be considered by all levels of government, business, and community:
Focus on using less energy-intensive industries, cleaner fuels, technology, and building strong energy-efficient policies.
Promoting the use of public transport instead of private vehicles, popularizing public bicycle sharing as environmentally friendly and healthy transport.
Increasing share of renewable energy sources — sun, wind, hydropower, geothermal heat and biomass.
Control of water purification in industrial and communal use, reuse of purified wastewater for road cleaning, toilet flushing, etc.
Introducing new working habits, such as full or partial remote working, as well as promoting a healthy and green way of life in society.
Conducting extensive awareness raising campaigns on proper waste segregation, handling and disposal methods, controlling the disposal of hazardous and infectious medical waste according to WHO guidelines.
Strengthening the practice of ecotourism and promoting a sustainable way of life, cultural preservation and biodiversity conservation.
Active participation of international bodies (UN Environment Program) in the preparation of new policies and coordination of their implementation
BDO is there for you all over the world
Through our global network, we are here for you in 167 countries around the world - even especially during the coronavirus pandemic. On the website of our network, you will find an overview of BDO's services in other countries for questions in an international context, as well as an interactive tool that gives you measurements and contact persons from many countries with one click.