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Letter from the CEO: Reflecting on the sudden shift in our global reality

Dear friends of Global Footprint Network,

As I sit in my home in California on day 5 of shelter-in-place, I am struggling to find the words that capture all the emotions I’m feeling right now. Emails from other CEOs flood my inbox, explaining what other nonprofits, foundations, and companies are doing in this time of crisis: some are inspiring, some are helpful, others are eye opening. All of them reflect uncertainty about what will unfold in the weeks and months ahead.

I’ll be honest: I am worried. Yes, for myself, my partner, and our 8-month-old. But more so for his grandparents and the other elderly people in our lives, neighbors who work in hospitals, and immunocompromised colleagues. I worry for our team members in Italy, Japan, and Switzerland; our collaborators in Canada; and our partners around the world. I worry for our friends and family who wonder how they will make ends meet as the economy contracts. And I worry for the unsheltered in my community here and afar.

But I am also moved by the sense of community I feel. The young and healthy doing their part to adhere to social distancing practices for the sake of the vulnerable. People in Spain giving healthcare workers a round of applause from their windows. Pro athletes donating large sums of money to make sure the stadium workers will still get paid, despite cancelled games. Folks buying groceries for elderly neighbors who are afraid to go to the store. COVID-19 positive people volunteering to test vaccines. Neighbors in Italy making music from their balconies.

And I am in awe at the bravery of nurses, doctors, and healthcare workers of all sorts who put themselves on the front lines day after day, saving lives and continuing to show up in the face of danger.

Over the coming weeks, we will do our best to provide services we hope will be helpful and informative. Keep an eye out for online educational tools and curriculum, special analyses, and other relevant content.

Sustainability, we have often said, will be achieved eventually — either by disaster or by design. As streets are emptied and planes are grounded, air pollution has gone down, and the global carbon footprint has decreased.

This is not what we had in mind.

One of our core values at Global Footprint Network is intentionality. We envision a world where all thrive within the means of our planet. We work to help people make better decisions for the planet and our future.

The current Footprint contraction reflects the sudden erosion of our ability to thrive. It is a far cry from the intentional changes we strive for.

Do your part, folks. Be good to one another. We will get through this together.

Yours in sustainability and solidarity,

Laurel Hanscom
Global Footprint Network