One thing is easy to say: it will not bring the end of the pandemic. Net of the possible variants, we will continue to perceive the consequences of COVID-19 for many years. In richer countries, infections and the level of consequences will decrease as the distribution of the vaccine progresses, but in the rest of the world, unfortunately, things will not go that way. Even if with the best intentions of international organizations and the most sensitive nations, it is unlikely that the process for the mass vaccination of all humanity, plus the need to repeat it after months, will eradicate the virus within the next year. Country closures, lockdowns and travel blocks will affect the world for some time yet. There will still be loss of life and turmoil in the economy, even greater than what we are experiencing these days. The consequences, however, will hit the poorest classes and countries the most throughout the world.
To offset the economic consequences of the pandemic, the governments of the richest countries and large international organizations are now setting up programs for the development of economies around the world, which will begin to manifest themselves in 2022. The counter-cyclical solution par excellence is the construction of new infrastructures, which are the basis for the development of commercial activities. We must therefore expect an increase in demand and circulation in the world of physical goods, from fuels to steel, but also of intangible ones, skills. Opportunities will open up both for established professionals, especially those who want to challenge themselves, and for young people who will enter the job market for the first time. The most competent and most motivated ones will be those who will have the most opportunities.
The climate disruptions that we are all starting to notice, extreme unseasonal temperatures, weather phenomena that have never been seen in some geographic areas and the fact that this kind of news has entered the news mainstream, are transforming these issues in ordinary conversation topics. The major international meetings, which until a few years ago were attended by environmental nerds and third world activists, have become popular events such as Champions League finals or rock concerts. Sustainability has become a concept accessible to everyone, who therefore pays those who can boast of it in terms of popularity and visibility.
Large international organizations, multinationals, governments, investment and development banks, are beginning to perceive the possibility of obtaining a return from these issues and are pushing for the concepts of corporate sustainability to expand from the top of large industry, downwards along the whole supply chain. This is also influencing the definition of professional profiles: considering the environment in its extended meaning of what surrounds us including air, water, land, natural resources, flora, fauna and humans and their relationships, has led to consider practical to integrate the management of health and safety at work and relations with interested parties into the skills of those involved in this discipline.
The new figure of the ESHS manager, acronym for Environmental, Social, Health and Safety, is being born, which sees the protection of health and safety as a part of environmental protection. It will replace those who deal “only” with HSE. To become suppliers or subcontractors of the international giants, which manage these rivers of money, a smaller company will have to adopt safer and more ecological working methods, certify its processes and be subject to controls by independent bodies, appointed by the various levels of client to which they respond: employer or main contractor. This will undeniably stimulate the preparation and updating of professionals and the competitiveness of companies, transforming itself into a factor of economic and social growth.
Are we on the eve of a new era of milk and honey? Will a new regenerated, sustainable, and supportive humanity emerge from the pandemic and climate crisis? Or will man not be able to ignore his legacy, the eternal homo homini lupus, man is the wolf of man? Maybe, sadly, is it just too late?
Well, one thing is for sure, we will not die of boredom.
By Antonio Pedna – Master of Architecture and Construction Engineering | Tech IOSH | AIEMA | AICW | Advisor, Trainer, Technical Communicator and Mentor.