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?
Vice President Global Corporate Responsibility at InterContinental Hotels Group
Momentum was building for 2020 to be a year of pivotal collective action on sustainability, with business and governments coming together to tackle the climate emergency. The Covid-19 outbreak has emphasised more than ever, the importance of future-proofing business for growth and resilience within the context of climate change.
It will also provide some of the most important lessons for a generation, and it is a crisis that we're all facing here and now. As we work through the many unknowns of this pandemic and consider global and local responses to issues, it has brought a stark reminder of how important it is to act quickly to tackle global risks and to do this collaboratively – both within and outside of our industry.
At IHG the primary focus, rightly so, is on supporting our people, our owners and our business to tackle the economic and operational impacts. The natural comparisons of this crisis to the climate emergency are obvious, and I anticipate that a key lesson from this will be the shift in focus to our longer-term health, and how a company responds by doing what is right – and that includes by the environment. And so, while the phasing and roll-out of specific sustainability projects may change, we must continue to plan and be ready as we recover.