Time to go green

Covid pandemic makes a fit case to pursue 'green economy'
Time to go green
Representational ImageSource: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Let me begin today’s column with the psychology of green colour. It’s known as the colour of life. Among other things, it is also traditionally associated with money and finances. It is the colour of prosperity and environment, and relates to the business world. Precisely, green is the most calming colour and has many shades.

The reason for discussing green colour at a time when Covid-19 has thrown multiple challenges to the world order is to try and get environmental issues on top of the agenda of individuals, organizations and governments in post-Covid times. As Covid-induced norms are in the process of making sweeping changes in almost every sector of the economy, it’s the opportune time to embed environmental protection measures in policies and plans to restore the ecosystem. Precisely, it’s the time to take the environmental issues head-on and strategize preventing, halting and reversing the damage which has been caused to the environment, wittingly or unwittingly, through our actions.

We are yet to come out of the Covid crisis as immediate relief from the deadly virus still seems a distant dream. But it’s for sure that the post-Covid world will be altogether different. The pandemic has caused enormous interruptions to economies, left millions jobless and adversely hit the livelihoods of people. These Covid-induced disruptions are strongly positioned to enforce almost radical changes in the functioning of many organizations in public as well as in the private sector. As far as businesses are concerned, their operations cannot be in the pattern of pre-Covid times. In other words, we are navigating through challenging times and while sailing through this period, it’s the technology which has emerged as one of the major safety tools. Leveraging technology into operations by individuals and organizations has already picked a never-seen-before pace and is now considered a key to economic recovery. It’s here the use of technology in day to day business operations has thrown a huge opportunity to promote green businesses which will ultimately benefit the health of our ecosystem.

To be precise, there is dire need to promote the concept of green businesses if the damages caused to the ecosystem are to be reversed.

While going through various debates on the theme of this year’s World Environmental Day – ‘Ecosystem Restoration’, there is a uniform statement from experts in different walks of life that only with healthy ecosystems people’s livelihoods can be enhanced, climate change thwarted and the collapse of biodiversity stopped. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has shown that by shrinking the area of natural habitat for animals, we have created ideal conditions for pathogens to spread diseases, like the Covid-19 infections. In other words, the coronavirus outbreak has shown how disastrous the consequences of ecosystem loss can be.

I also found green industry business pitched as a cornerstone among the possible measures that can help to reverse the damage caused to the ecosystem. In this set-up, the businesses have to operate by using sustainable materials to produce products and minimize strain on natural resources. For example, businesses making minimum possible use of water & energy and using raw materials in renewable and eco-friendly ways form part of green industry business.

So, all this sums up for promoting a green economy. However, in a Covid dominated environment, the process of transition to a green economy depends on an all-new mindset as well as the ability of skilled human resources who can work for various sectors. A green economy means sustainable development with environmental protection measures in place. Here a statement from an expert is worth quoting: “A green economy is thought to be based on three pillars – People, Profits and Planet. An economy needs to have healthy communities and thereby a healthy workforce. Businesses that are part of the green economy need to commit themselves to providing products and services which are ethical. It should also be made sure that the businesses do not exploit labour or decrease the quality of life by any means.”

This means businesses need to raise profits, making sure that the concept and ideas of sustainability are followed in letter and spirit. Businesses should not in any way graze on the natural resources and degrade its components for the sake of profits. To be a responsible partner in the campaign for promoting green economy, a business should have products and services which are tailored to contribute to the ecosystem restoration by reversing the damage caused to it.

In pre-Covid times, global warming and an energy crunch, sustainable environment-friendly businesses had been capturing the world’s imagination. Even entrepreneurs across India had begun investing talent, technology and money to kick-start green businesses. Huge investments were made into alternative energy resources by them with the aim to trigger a revolution of the green economy. However, the push to green businesses was not on expected lines till outbreak of coronavirus derailed the economy as a whole.

As the world is gearing up to align its economic order to the Covid-induced changes, this is an opportune time to mold our culture of entrepreneurship in line with the concept of green economy. Since entrepreneurship development has always been a thrust area at our place, it would be in the fitness of things to see 'green concept' embedded in the business models. For example, let it be mandatory for entrepreneurs here to base their projects on the use of alternative renewable energy resources like solar energy.

Since availability of power is crucial to the sustainable growth of entrepreneurship culture, harnessing solar energy would not only help to fight the power crisis, but will also give impetus to the concept of 'green entrepreneurship'.

It's pertinent to mention here that the importance of providing sustainable and affordable energy to the people here in Jammu & Kashmir has always missed the focus of our ‘men of vision’. Our need for power has always remained acute and urgent in nature. As far as providing energy to even the poorest of the poor goes, it is only through harnessing hydel-power.

Even as we have plenty of water resources to generate 20000 MW, lack of financial and infrastructural resources has failed us to realize this potential. Notably, generating electricity through the solar system is actually one of the cleanest methods of energy production known so far. The great thing about solar power is that it’s an effective instrument to negotiate climate change which is emerging as a major threat to the existence of life on earth.

On the environmental front, when drastic climate change is taking its toll by causing visible ecological imbalance, cultivating a green economy at the moment is an alternative vision that can generate growth and improvements in people’s lives in ways consistent with sustainable development. To be precise, efforts to sustain and advance economic, environmental and social well-being here in the culture of entrepreneurship are inevitable.

Meanwhile, as mentioned in the beginning, this is the perfect time to leverage green technology to get on board to the platform of new norms in post Covid times. It will drastically reduce the impact of humans on the environment, lessen resource usage and simultaneously incorporate renewable resources. Respecting the natural resources and reversing the damage caused to the ecosystem by our actions is a guarantee to a healthy future. A World Economic Forum study shows that investing in nature-positive models – industry actions that add value to ecosystems and biodiversity – could add up to $10.1 trillion in annual business value and create 395 million jobs by 2030.

In short, there is a dire need to make better use of natural resources, using green technologies. As said by Bill Gates: “We somehow must get to zero greenhouse gas emissions to avoid climate disaster while maintaining digital momentum and closing the digital divide”.

So, it makes sense for businesses to rethink their business strategies leveraging green technology and be respectable partners in steering the economy on a more sustainable growth trajectory.

Let me conclude by sharing a Chinese proverb: The frog does not drink up the pond in which it lives.

(The views are of the author & not the institution he works for)

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