Sustainability for our times
As global travel restrictions begin to apply, it dawns on us how lucky we are to live in a time where reaching the ends of the world requires little more than an internet connection and a few hundred pounds. Whilst most far-flung paradises are within a day's travel, our impact on these destinations is much more enduring.
As globalisation and the global middle-class grows, purchasing power increases (with spending expected to grow from about $37 trillion in 2017 to $64 trillion by 2030), thus bringing about increased demand for travel and with it, further environmental degradation.
There are numerous ways to gauge travel transportation, though using the metric below from the European Environment Agency, we can assess the impacts of our travel choices:
Taken the above at face value, we can clearly see flying is bad for the environment. However, with flights now grinding to a halt, this may alleviate some of the damage flying causes and engage consumers to re-evaluate future choices - questioning the necessity of old ways.
Hopefully, this crisis is short-lived, though given the impact we are having on climate change, as people become used to going without, it may have the beneficial effect of changing consumer behaviour and re-evaluating their choices for the good of the environment, creating new sustainable travel methods in a globalised world and perhaps re-prioritising the opportunities for travel in our own regions, for the benefit of our communities.
A Greener Future
Given travel is impacted by globalisation and environmental concerns, thus so is the job market. With political, economic and environmental disruption combining to influence the future like never before, so industry reacts by evolving and innovating to create new and different possibilities of employment.
As a result, the 'green' jobs market is growing and evolving, with opportunities created due to AI, technology and changing demographics, approximately 85% of job titles will be new by 2030 (Greenmatch, 2018). Coupling this with reduced roles as we know them today due to the same factors, there is a necessity to evolve.
With these changes, the workforce will (with the help of business) must either adapt or retrain. Though skills, mobility of labour, education and training also warrant considerable consideration and are interconnected, if we focus on workforce, millennials and gen z - who by 2025 will likely make up 75% of the workforce, have differing job requirements and will help shape future organisational values and behaviours - in turn influencing the other aspects mentioned.
From a sustainability perspective, across both generations, climate and the environment are the top concerns (Deloitte Global Millennial Survey, 2019), echoed by 3/4 millennials stating they consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work (according to the Cone Communications 2016 Millennial Employee Engagement Survey).
Given these statistics, this lends itself to a future where jobs are chosen on an ethical basis, with a bias towards green jobs or jobs in the green economy (e.g. green finance, energy, tech, EVs). With 210k employees generating £44bn in the low carbon and renewable energy market in 2017, this is a growing industry - 'both essential to our environment and providing commercial opportunity with huge potential cumulative benefits' (Matt Churchward, Green Recruitment Company).
The opportunities for sustainable jobs are growing, as is the desire to be more sustainable within career choices. If organisations can therefore make the future more sustainable for millennials and gen z, they will help make the future more sustainable for themselves.
Coronavirus Hyper Consumption
Given the precarious global state in which we find ourselves due to Covid-19, life reverts back to simpler demands, following the relevant guidance and looking after those close to us, re-localising our mindset to our communities, families and friends, providing for those in need and living within our means. With the media sensationalising events and glorifying negativity, this is a chance to re-calibrate consumerism and focus on a sustainable future - asking ourselves 'do we really need this?' and if so, is there a sustainable alternative?
If not, we're simply adding to the future recycling pile, whether we had good intentions or not. So please put sustainability at the top of your considerations, but not ahead of necessity.