Return to March 2021 update
The volume of observed talks about silver lining (i.e., conversion of challenges into opportunities) also continues to decline in March ‘21 (1.2% in March ‘21 vs. 3.2% in December). In March ‘21 optimism about reopening and returning to pre-pandemic normal diminished the need to talk about silver lining. We are at the start of pandemic’s end. The industry has been taking successfully this crisis as business opportunity. Service providers in digital (construction) technologies continue to lead the effort. According to a survey by Just Capital, 9 in 10 Americans believe that this time represents a chance for large companies to hit “reset” and prioritize the environment, the community, customers and employees. So the question is how to keep this momentum going (in what companies report, in how they define the metrics they’re reporting and in our thinking about what sustainable growth means for people and the planet).  Accelerated digital transformation is a positive side of the pandemic. Furthermore, the health crisis showed us an entirely new picture of the scale and effort required to address climate change. Countless companies and countries are pledging net-zero emissions by a certain year. Increased investments will bring aggressive moves toward zero carbon emissions in AEC. Progressive vaccine rollout brought light at the end of the tunnel.
Scott Galloway predicts in the next 36 months birth of a new generation of web 3.0 firms and leaders on the heels of the pandemic-induced recession.  McKinsey also noticed a veritable flood of new small businesses. In the third quarter of 2020 alone, there were more than 1.5M new-business applications in the US, almost double the figure for the same period in 2019. Furthermore, there is widespread distrust for business-as-usual, stakeholder capitalism comes in as a bridge between businesses and the communities of which they are a part. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the interconnectedness of business and society. “It will be a true inflection point,” says Rajnish Kumar, chairman of the State Bank of India. “And whatever we learn through this process—it must not go to waste.”  We can find silver lining in everything happening now, like empty schools allowed for faster retrofitting projects.  Current urban issues are helping us to reimagine our cities, according to Bjarke Ingels from BIG. “Today, cities are not meeting the essential needs of a big portion of the people living there. Simultaneously, urban areas are the biggest driver of the climate crisis. The challenges are extensive, but so are the opportunities. We really find ourselves at a crossroads: we can continue to hurtle down this well-trodden path, which we know where it leads; or we can explore a new way forward. With The Ideal City, we wanted to scour the world for inspiring chefs and ingredients, and bring them together in an aspirational cookbook for cities, stuffed with recipes on how to create a better home for humanity, while taking care of our planet.”  A look at the trends driving the economy today shows a pattern of great acceleration: few new trends emerged over the past year and even fewer reversed direction, but many of those present before the pandemic have experienced dramatic surges. Online shopping, remote education, telemedicine, and even geopolitical tensions are not new, but the COVID-19 crisis has intensified these forces like an earthquake releasing pent-up energy.