COVID-19: A stress test for sustainable development in hospitality?
— 22 experts shared their view
"Covid-19 is climate change on warp speed" (Wagner, Mar.10, 2020). The current pandemic has catastrophic consequences on the hospitality sector. The ways the industry currently deals with the crisis (for example, see: COVID-19 - Survival Guide for the Hospitality Industry) offers a glimpse into the crisis management endeavors in building a business case for disaster and climate resiliency. Climate emergency is not dissimilar to the coronavirus threat, whereby 'both demand early aggressive action to minimize loss" (Cobb, Mar. 12, 2020). However, with hotel companies facing an existential crisis, or large-scale downsizing, what will be left of the sustainability programs and initiatives once this pandemic is overcome? Will we be starting from scratch or is the coronavirus crisis the opportunity to implement a swift change in risk assessment and management facing the climate crisis? What are the key lessons from the coronavirus crisis on how to deal with the climate emergency?
Contingent Managing Director - Sustainability at Techstars
My focus is technology innovation and it seems that COVID-19 has already inspired a lot of new thinking and solutions. It has been extremely uplifting recently to see viable new concepts including more effective technology-driven infection testing, machine learning-based predicting of virus transmission hotspots and leveraging AI to reduce the development cycle of new vaccines. Many of these recent innovations can also be applied to other problems and there are already use cases for climate change-related issues. Possibilities in leveraging new technology combined with the aggressive intervention tactics applied to the pandemic, offer us perhaps one of the best blueprints for dealing with climate change. I, therefore, believe that if the hospitality industry is able to look past the short term catastrophic consequences and is able to shift thinking to “ensuring making a profit today does not endanger our ability to make a profit tomorrow”, there might perhaps be a silver lining to the current crisis.