Submitted by Ceres
As the world struggles to contain a rapidly spreading pandemic, hundreds of thousands of people are fighting for their lives and the global economy is in danger of lurching to a halt — putting billions of livelihoods in danger.
At Ceres, our top priorities amidst the COVID-19 crisis are the health and well-being of our staff and their families, and acting in solidarity with the most vulnerable in our global community. Like many of you, we are now working from home and doing everything we can to contribute to the measures we all must take to reduce the daily impacts of this crisis on human lives. This disaster touches all of us, and we are responding with empathy and care for the common good.
In that vein, our work continues. Never has the need to build a more sustainable, inclusive economy been clearer or more urgent. This pandemic is a painful reminder of our universal interconnectedness, our vulnerability to the seismic risks and sudden shocks our current capital markets systems expose us to, and the need for mass mobilization to tackle a common crisis. While some of our efforts may have to slow, and some tactics may change, we are more committed than ever to transforming the economy to build a just and sustainable future. In fact, it has never felt more important. The need to accelerate the transition to a net-zero emissions economy will grow even more critical in the coming months and years as pollution, rising temperatures, deforestation, unjust power imbalances, and the degradation of our natural resources leave us more vulnerable to future crises, if unaddressed. As we rebuild our economy, we will continue working with investors and companies to help navigate the risks and opportunities embedded in our new reality.
Our policy work will continue as well, and policymakers have a critical role to play in the short- and long-term recovery. It's imperative that lawmakers provide not just the immediate life-saving medical and economic relief that so many millions need, but that they look to refashion our systems and policies so that future crises are prevented. Economic recovery packages should amount to not just a stimulus, but to a recalibration of our economy to protect against systemic threats — and they should include policies that protect workers now and into the future.
Long-term government spending should focus on sustainable, clean energy investments that will help reduce the climate emergency, ensuring zero-carbon and low-emitting industries not only withstand the downturn but continue to grow — all while establishing longer-term, market-wide mechanisms such as a price on carbon. They should also take worker protections into account, with a focus on equitable workplaces and sustainable labor practices. We must be decisive and timely to meet the pressing needs of today, while having the vision and the wisdom to plan for tomorrow.
To investors and companies, our partners in this work, we have a similar message: Take time to address this immediate crisis, take care of your workers, your families, and your stakeholders, and then rejoin us in our long-term efforts to mitigate the impact of mounting and intersecting global threats.
One thing that history has shown us is that a crisis can produce real change. The power of collective action will become evident. True leaders will emerge. The impossible will become inevitable. Innovative ideas and policy solutions will take hold, save lives and eventually get the economy back on track.
Let us not lose sight of the lessons we can learn in the coming weeks and months, the ways we can help, and the opportunities each of us has every day to look out for one another and to create a stronger, more resilient, more equitable economy.
Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. Through powerful networks and advocacy, Ceres tackles the world’s biggest sustainability challenges, including climate change, water scarcity and pollution, and human rights abuses.
More from Ceres