Risky as it is to make predictions during a disruptive global pandemic, Hubbub’s on-going polling and engagement with businesses suggests there are some transformative themes which should inform the thinking of progressive organisations. 

1) Action to hit carbon targets has intensified 

COVID-19 has demonstrated the devastating impact of a known risk that was not taken sufficiently seriously. The disruption caused by extreme climate change falls into the same category and now leading companies have intensified ambitions to reduce their carbon emissions.  This is markedly different to how businesses responded to the 2008 financial crash when sustainability largely fell off the table for leadership teams. 

Progressive organisations know that to be truly resilient, they must plan for climatic disruption. They also realise that there will be greater government and public scrutiny as we head towards COP26 in Glasgow next year 

2) True sustainability has to embrace social inclusion 

COVID-19 has increased social disparities whilst Black Lives Matter has pushed the inclusivity and social justice debate high up the agenda. Organisations are increasingly aware that their sustainability agenda must address social challenges as well as reducing pressures on the planet. 

O2 has recognised the need for inclusion by partnering with Hubbub to tackle digital isolation. The Community Calling campaign blurs the boundaries between social and environmental work; it helps connect low-income households by refurbishing and redistributing surplus smart phones, whilst successfully cutting e-waste and carbon emissions too. 

3) Existing sustainability trends will accelerate 

COVID-19 has hastened the speed of existing trends. This is most obvious with the rapid transition to home working for office-based employees and our research suggests that flexible working patterns are here to stay. This will profoundly change the value we put on our homes, the way we interact with our immediate locality and a desire for more accessible green spaces for all.  

Globallypolicy-makers are responding with concepts such as the Fifteen Minute CityThis is by no means the death of city centres but instead is promoting a new way to interact with these areas.  Hubbub has recognised this change and is building a response with our new climate campaign in Manchester as well as creating a partnership with BT looking at how people can use tech to cut bills and carbon emissions. 

4) Language and communication is more important than ever 

The impact of COVID-19 has been life-changing and tragic, for many. It has shifted our perception of risk, forced people to concentrate on the short-term and redefined what is meant by an emergency.   

The language we use to talk about climate change needs to reflect these new circumstances. To be truly inclusive, sustainability has to be more relevant to peoples' immediate concerns. It must also overcome the perception that change will be costly, rather than beneficial, and find authentic voices that are relevant to all sections of society. 

5) Consumer values have shifted 

Whilst not true of all sections of society, Hubbub’s polling has revealed some fundamental shifts in consumer values and actions.   

This has been most obvious in our relationship with food. The shock of seeing empty supermarket shelves and the need to cook more at home has seen people putting a greater value on food increasing their desire to cut waste, learn new culinary skills and question the provenance of food. This was built on by Hubbub and Tesco in the ‘No Time for Waste’ campaign which helped customers cut food waste by 76% and saving them £16.50 on weekly food bills 

We anticipate that there will be a similar re-evaluation of the fashion industry which will need to react quickly to demonstrate true sustainability credentials. 

6) Collaboration is key 

One of the few positives from COVID-19 has been the speed with which scientists and businesses have united to create a range of vaccines. Nothing could demonstrate more clearly the power of collaboration to address global challenges. Hopefully this will inspire government, companies and civil society to create a similar united front to reduce carbon emissions, cut pollution and boost biodiversity. 

2020 has been a year like none otherand hopefully 2021 will be more positive for all of society. For that to be the case, the rebuild has to be sustainable and just, which is the ambition that Hubbub will take forward as we head to Christmas. 

Have a great break and stay safe.  

Take a watch of our video summarising Hubbub's 2020 - all told through the perspective of the office plants we left behind! 

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