In one sense, this pandemic experience is a global experiment in collective vulnerability and resilience. It is a full-scale exercise that is teaching us how humans behave, how systems react, how vulnerable or resilient our supply chains are and how dependent we are on our global partners.
What is required to galvanize proactive response to these challenges? There is no one answer, solution or hero. Great ideas can come from any source; one is as least as likely to emerge from the ground-up as it is to arrive from the top-down. In either case it will require collaboration across sectors, organizations and jurisdictions to prepare and exercise whole community Future Ready playbooks to be prepared for a variety of shocks and stresses.
Perhaps the most important lesson of the COVID-19 pandemic is that at the heart of every organization, community and country are its people. When we unify for a common purpose, especially in response to a natural or man-made crisis – or in the case of climate change, both – we achieve rapid and sustainable results. In order to maintain resilience, it is important to remember these critical elements:
Leadership. It is at times like these that we see what true leaders are made of and whether they step up, show up, and lean into these crises. Leaders that bring people together, identify solutions, adapt quickly to change, practice empathy and ensure transparent communication will gain the trust of others and transform the change we need for a more sustainable and resilient future.
Connection. Before a crisis occurs, it is important that we maintain strong connections with our neighbors, communities and families on a regular basis so that when we are isolated and need to rely heavily on these networks for support, essential services and connections, the strength of these existing relationships can help us through challenging times. It becomes familiar and comfortable to check in with neighbors who may be more vulnerable, such as those with underlying health conditions or the elderly.
Service. Change is hard for anyone and the changes we are facing impact everyone differently. We must remain mindful of how we treat each other and practice empathy, as there is not a single individual who isn’t bearing some burden during the COVID-19 crisis and compassion for those who are suffering more significantly than others. It’s our essential workforce in industries on the frontlines of this crisis — employees in the medical and healthcare, telecommunications, information technology systems, defense, food and agriculture, transportation and logistics, energy, water and wastewater, law enforcement and public works professions — who require us to be of service to them by staying home.
Gratitude. For those of us required to stay home, remember to practice gratitude for the roof above our heads, the food on our plates, the health and safety of our loved ones and to those who are putting themselves at greater risk for our safety and security. Know that we can and will make it through this. This is our opportunity to slow down and spend time with our loved ones, learn about our own vulnerabilities and practice personal resilience.
Behavior. We may need to change our behavior, be more mindful of our consumption and focus more on essential goods and services, act and adjust quickly, and demand more as a customer and investor for improved preparedness and planning at a variety of scales. But this crisis will lead to beneficial changes in our routines when we discover what is truly important to us.
The pandemic reminds us about the importance of weaving resilience into our everyday lives. Right now, we are adapting our lives at an unprecedented level, motivated to protect our families, communities and economy. Can we draw any lessons from this devastating crisis to address a less immediate, but more critical challenge to our long-term survival?
When the pandemic has abated, it will be a critical time to reflect on what we can do in a short amount of time to make a global impact and where we might be able to turn that effort into actions that address the threats of climate change. Whether we are acting as an individual, a family, a community, an industry or as a nation, we have an opportunity to provide similar, proactive responses to climate change that will have long-lasting impacts on the planet and our lives.”
[To subscribe to Insights, contact the editorial staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.]