• Caterina Sullivan

What Has the Coronavirus Taught Us about Social Sustainability?



The economic impact of the outbreak of the coronavirus is an unfortunate example of why it is important to ensure good social sustainability in order to protect our economy.


There is a strong relationship between our economy and our society, and sustainability efforts need to be scaled up globally to ensure that we are protecting both of these areas.


China currently remains mostly closed as 60 million residents across the nation remain under some form of quarantine. With over 67,000 cases confirmed and over 1,500 deaths, the virus does not show any signs that it will be slowing down anytime soon.


China is responsible for a significant portion of the Australian economy. China sees over 28% of Australian food and agricultural exports, which have currently been halted due to the outbreak of the virus. Another significant revenue stream is the number of Chinese students in Australian tertiary educations with over 100,000 students stranded in Mainland China due to the travel ban which commenced February 1st. Each of these students represents approximately $80,000 per year to the Australian economy.


Currently, it is estimated that Australia is losing $1 billion per week in tourism dollars due to the coronavirus, especially over the Lunar New Year period. Corporates and private businesses are also suffering with Blackmores entering a trading halt last week and share prices dropping over 20%.


Goal 3 of the Global Goals looks at improving good health and well-being. Target 3.3 aims to end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases by 2030. Target 3.b looks at increasing support of research and development of vaccines and medicines for the communicable and non-communicable diseases that primarily affect developing countries, the provision of access to affordable essential medicines and vaccines, in accordance with the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, which affirms the right of developing countries to use to the full the provisions in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights regarding flexibilities to protect public health, and, in particular, the provision of access to medicines for all.


Target 1.5 of the goals also advocates for the building of the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.


As we take steps to ensure we lessen both the social and economic impact of the coronavirus, it is important that we also look forward to the future. We must scale up our disaster preparedness response to such global health crises. It is also important that businesses create disaster preparedness plans for such events as this will most likely not be the last global health crisis we see.


For more information on how to future-proof your business, contact Strategic Sustainability Consultants.


Strategic Sustainability Consultants pays our respects and offers our condolences to anyone who has lost a loved one to the coronavirus over the past several weeks.


This article was originally published on the Strategic Sustainability Consultants website.

Authorised by Caterina Sullivan (2018)

PO Box 6157

O'CONNOR ACT 2602

Australia