Sustainability
Opinion Article
INVITED EDITOR
Editorial from
João Nolasco
Nova SBE Alumnus, João is an Energy Economist interested in topics related to public policy. During the last 10 years he has worked for international development organisations and for electric utilities, including the African Development Bank, the European Commission, and EDP. All opinions shared are his own.
November 16, 2022
11. Sustainable cities and communities

11. Sustainable cities and communities

Making cities and communities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
LEARN MORE

12. Responsible consumption and production

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
LEARN MORE

13. Climate action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
LEARN MORE

Hopes and wishes for what comes next: Smart Green Lifestyles

A second hope for the post-pandemic, wishing that some of the new and sustainable behaviours adopted in the wake of covid-19 find a way to adhere to the new normal lifestyle.

Hopes and wishes for what comes next (2/3): Smart Green Lifestyles

 

The covid-19 pandemic rages on. According to the latest WHO’s covid-19 situation report #162 (WHO, 2020),we now have 10 185 374 people globally infected with a toll of 503 862 dead.This represents an increase of over 4 million infections and roughly 137 thousand deaths since my last blog post one month ago. Whilst expanding on the possibilities of where the current “path of change” is leading us, the objective of the present blog post (as the second of three brief opinion articles) is to continue contrasting the evolving grim scenario with the highlights of happier hopes and wishes for the future, that can also provide some ointment to the challenges and sacrifices that we are now doing in the present.

 

As a glimpse to the below, my second hope for the post-pandemic relates to the wish that some of the new behaviours being adopted in the wake of covid-19 find a way to adhere to the new normal lifestyle. Especially those that fully align with the aspirational and evolving concept of a “green good life” and that materialize the democratization of “smart green lifestyles”.

 

#2 – Smart Green Lifestyles:

 

My last blog post ended with the question of whether the current pandemic had the strength to persistently alter valuations and propel behavioural change towards more sustainable approaches. This is an important question, as behaviour is key to economics. Behaviour defines consumption patterns, which in turn shape aggregate demand that induce changes on the supply side. Behavioural change is typically driven by valuation (by desire or need), it often takes time to sink in and to be adherent it must be voluntary, not imposed. The current behavioural change witnessed in response to the covid-19 pandemic has been imposed, hence there is still significant uncertainty on whether some of the changes in behaviour witnessed in the recent months will adhere to the “new normal”.

 

Some of the recent covid-19 propelled behavioural changes denote however deeper underlying processes, related to the ongoing shift in our techno-economic paradigm (Perez, 2002).Indeed, the imposed confinement has changed our way of living towards an online life. Online working, shopping, studying, entertaining, exercising, have been tenets of the new normal. The new way of living has also extended to apparel and care, with masks and sanitizing gel standing as essential accessories when leaving home. But as the lockdown eases and the new normal finds its way in,some of the covid-19 driven behaviours will also be driven out. The use of masks will continue as long as the virus is on the loose. But wearing masks is fuelled by the momentary urge of the pandemic and masks will likely fall out of fashion as soon as the virus is controlled.

 

On the other hand,there are covid-19 induced behaviours that will find adherence to the new normal, as they relate to deeper shifts in evolving consumer demand associated to our current age of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT).  is likely to be one of such behaviours as it stands as one of the features of the aspirational lifestyle of our present ICT age: the “green goodlife” (Perez, 2018).Naturally involving a more intensive use of ICT in all aspects of life, other features of this “smart green lifestyle” include: (i) the focus on sustainability via the inclination towards natural materials, minimization of waste, promotion of reutilization and recycling; (ii) the focus on health andwell-being with exercise, fitness and preference for “…organic, locally sourced fresh foods rather than highly processed ones” (Jacobs & Mazzucato, 2016, p. 202); and (iii) the favouring of experiencing, access and renting in detriment to ownership.

 

The concept of “smartgreen lifestyles” also expands to the energy field, where the ongoing technological evolution of the ICT age is bringing a complete revolution to theways we use and manage energy. This revolution is happening inside our homes,where we are witnessing an increasing electrification of energy consumption(including heating and cooling), with ever more efficient electrical appliances, and where consumers now have the option to also produce and sell electricity. The democratization of power supply is also revolutionizing our neighbourhoods, where the technological advances that make grids smart will soon allow neighbours to trade electricity between one another, whilst the usage of public lighting will be more efficient by actively following movement in response to demand. Mobility is also an energy related area where the new technological frontiers of our ICT age are propelling intense innovation. The arrival of electrical vehicles and outlook of its fast deployment despite the pandemic (IEA, 2020)is one of the many expressions of such dynamism, along with the new, more efficient, data driven platforms for planning a trip, calling a cab, sharing a ride, a car or even a bicycle.

 

All in all, it is likely that after covid-19 the world will be somehow different. How different no one can tell. But what can be observed with confidence is that the new normal of the post-pandemic will entail a directionality towards smart green lifestyles, that in turn will have cross impacts across all aspects of life.Smart green lifestyles are welcomed, but they are not a panacea as their adoption will also bear negative impacts: e.g. the impact of being online on mental health and the over-exposure to ICT in early child development. As always, in periods of crisis and transformation, the role of governments is key to steer behavioural change, whilst promoting ways to mitigate the negative impacts of the change we are living in. What will be the government’s role after the pandemic? Will governments be able to find appropriate responses to the ensuing mounting social and economic challenges? What about the values of solidarity and community? Will they find a way to the new normal of the post-pandemic and continue being the glue of society? These are some of the questions to explore in the next blog post.

 

This content was originally published in "Bloco Zero"

João Nolasco
Nova SBE Alumnus, João is an Energy Economist interested in topics related to public policy. During the last 10 years he has worked for international development organisations and for electric utilities, including the African Development Bank, the European Commission, and EDP. All opinions shared are his own.
LEARN MORE
SHARE

Keep reading

Lab Grown Food: Opportunity for sustainability or dystopian nightmare?

In 2014, the United Nations issued a report claiming that at current rates of soil degradation, “all of the world’s topsoil could be gone within 60 years”.

The waste of water in the clothing industry.

This paper was hold by students in the following of Global Impact Mindset: UN SDG Module of NOVA SBE. The study will focus on the sixth of seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development goals (Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all). As the clothing sector is one of the sectors in the industry that waste (responsible for approximately 20% of industrial water pollution from textile treatment and dyeing (Niinimäki, K., 2020)) and consume the most water (79 trillion litres per year), the research will be undertaken on this industry.

Conversas com Impacto Podcast - with Luís Veiga Martins

Luís Veiga Martins participated in a recently launched Podcast - Conversas com Impacto [Conversations with Impact] to talk about Nova SBE's comprehensive and sustainable vision of business and economics, with a strong commitment to walk the talk, through the implementation of impact projects at various levels.

Thirst Project Nova SBE: Newsletter December

This is a quick read (2-3 minutes) on what are the new ways of approaching the fight against thirst not only around the world but also in Thirst Project Nova SBE. Get to know the new projects of this team of more than 20 students of Nova SBE that constantly try to move people into helping in this cause, also know how to help and how scientific innovation is playing a part on this matter.

THE CHOICES OF

Peak performance: Kilimanjaro leadership quest

In September 2023, Nova School of Business and Economics (Nova SBE) made history as 16 faculty and staff members embarked on an extraordinary journey — the Kilimanjaro Leadership Quest. This ambitious project saw the team conquer Africa's highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, imparting invaluable leadership, teamwork, and sustainability lessons.

Subscribe our weekly newsletter

By subscribing to the Nova SBE Role to Play newsletter, you can stay up-to-date on the latest articles posted on the website.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

We all have a role to play

We are on a mission to be a community dedicated to the development of talent and knowledge that impacts the world.

With just ten years to go, an ambitious global effort is underway to deliver the 2030 promise. We want to take a stand and we are calling on our community to showcase how they are contributing to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, whilst influencing more and more people to unravel their role to play.

Here, you will find four different ways your ideas can flourish, dialogue can be enhanced, and action can take place. You can choose one or all four, and Nova SBE will be there to support you all the way and guarantee tangible change.

We all have a role to play, and this is your way in.