Ben Ivory, senior vice president at Graebel Companies Inc, revisits an article he wrote for FIDI Focus at the end of 2019 on the need for industry action on climate change. He argues that, after a year of pandemic, his ‘case for coordinated action’ is stronger than ever
In my article ‘A case for coordinated action’, published in FIDI Focus in late 2019, I encouraged the relocation community to embrace our responsibility to protect our environment. Since then, our world has changed dramatically. Who would have predicted the challenges we faced the following year?
As we slowly emerge into a post-pandemic world, it is a perfect time to reset and re-evaluate what the future may look like. As we reset, can we ask:
What have we learned?
- We have certainly learned that our world is more fragile and interconnected than most of us realised. Our ability to live what we considered as ‘normal’ changed quickly and dramatically. And the impact wasn’t limited by borders, income, age or race.
- We learned that a global crisis requires a collective effort to respond. Governments, businesses, NGOs and individuals needed to act. As individuals, each of us had a responsibility to change behaviours, restricting travel and contact with others, wearing PPE, getting tested and vaccinated
- As businesses, we learned that we can adapt and change if we want to. Our industry quickly converted to virtual meetings, virtual surveys, paperless practices, and working from home. While these took effort, change happened quickly and with minimal negative impact to clients and employees.
- It caused most of us to take pause and to be more aware of our environment; to realise how to appreciate, protect and advocate for the air we breathe, the water we drink and the nature we live alongside. Like the pandemic, we cannot ignore the impacts we are making, and we have a responsibility to act.
Has the case for coordinated action to protect our environment changed?
My answer is yes. The case is stronger today than it was two years ago. A few reasons:
- As mentioned above, we have more awareness of the consequences of our actions (or inaction). We know our planet is fragile.
- Governments and businesses are taking action. Specific to climate change, there is more consensus than ever that we need to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rapidly. As an example, just recently, Amazon and more than 100 companies, including Graebel, signed The Climate Pledge, committing to net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Climate Accord goal.
- Increasingly, employees expect companies to demonstrate commitment to the environment as well as supporting diversity, human rights and other forms of sustainability.
In my 2019 article, I offered four steps for consideration to FIDI and its members to make the world cleaner, fairer and more sustainable: taking inventory of current CSR activities, signing the United Nations Global Compact, committing to zero-carbon goals and embracing or broadening certification.
These steps are still relevant today and, like a marathon, they take time and patience. At Graebel, we are committing resources to formalise our environmental and sustainability programmes, setting goals, and measuring progress both internally and with our supply chain partners. I urge you to consider what your company can be doing to make a positive impact on our environment.
Our COVID year reminded us of how fortunate we are to have each other and the truly caring nature of our business. Let’s use our unique gifts to meet the challenges ahead.