Thoughts from Grosvenor Capital founder Zahara Malik
2020 MARKED THE 10-YEAR LEAD UP TO THE UN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGS) AS WELL AS AN UNEXPECTED TURN IN OUR GLOBAL SOCIETY.
On March 11 this year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) deemed the Covid-19 as a global pandemic which meant more than ever it is essential to evaluate both our societal and our planet’s needs.
The global community have had to unite, learn lessons from each other and use this time to reset and to look at existing frameworks for some clarity including the SDGs.
The 17 goals curated by the UN in 2015, which includes 169 associated targets, addresses the complex needs of our global society from climate change, extreme poverty, global education and of course, health.
The rationale of the SDGs is to place ownership not only on governments, but also on the private sector.
The UAE government, for example, has ensured that the UN SDGs are incorporated throughout their domestic policy as well as framing the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, placing education, environment and healthcare at the forefront.
Furthermore, the UAE’s private sector has played an impact on attaining SDGs; Emaar
Group was able to promote responsible usage of water resources via its water management programme launched in 2016. Emaar aims to obtain a 20% reduction in water consumption by 2021.
It is undeniable the lasting impact that Covid-19 will have across the world, it is therefore imperative for all global players to remain focused on achieving the 17 SDGs, as the need to overcome our environmental challenges, to invest in our education and to address our overall global needs will not
vanish nor diminish. Expo 2020 will be a driver and platform to reinforce the global initiative to achieve the SDGs.
One of its key pillars is focused on sustainability and the need to use resources without compromising the ability of the planet to sustain future generations, and perhaps to draw on our lessons from today to ensure we are somewhat prepared going forward.
Our priority must be to inspire and enable the new dialogue for reform − how do we actually build the global and unified system that can deliver on the aspiration of the UN SDGs.
Goal 3 clearly refers to health: “to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” and more relevantly “fighting communicable diseases and epidemics; and preventing and treating non-communicable diseases.”
For many SDGs were seen to be extremely ambitious to achieve by 2030, but what it has accomplished to date is rapid investments and efforts towards the control and ultimately the elimination of the impact that epidemics and pandemics have to lives and livelihoods.
For example the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation committed $100 million to fighting Covid-19, as a part of its broader efforts in global health.
“Multilateral Organizations, national governments, the private sector and philanthropies must work together to slow the pace of the outbreak, help countries protect their most vulnerable citizens and accelerate the development of the tools to bring this epidemic under control,” Gates Foundation CEO, Mark Suzman said.
“Our hope is that these resources will help catalyse a rapid and effective international response. This response should be guided by science, not fear and it should build on the next steps that the World Health Organization has taken to date,” he added.
Now more than ever the SDGs has reinforced how critical it is to have engagement of all sectors and industries, an approach that has been noticeably lacking in many areas including global public health.
As a global community our long-term vision has to be aligned and not forgotten, in the midst of the shock of Q1 2020 coupled with it being a significant decade we must remain fully dedicated to achieving our 2030 goals.
Governments, business leaders, SMEs are understandably focused on our here and now, but we must reinforce the need to make significant and concrete progress towards the SDGs. As stated by Professor David Harper, “We have to deal with health in the broadest sense, and many of the drivers are outside the health sector, including those for example in the financial, education, energy and environment sectors.”
He goes on to say, “when the world experiences a health emergency, the diplomatic energy in the global system increases, and an opportunity for major reform is created”.
As we close Q1 of 2020 our global call to action should be to persevere through the turbulence of the new decade and as Aaron Cramer, President and CEO of Business for Social Responsibility aptly sum-ups, “it is essential that we remember the central importance of staying committed to our long-term goals, while adjusting to an altered reality that has much to teach us when we inevitably emerge from this crisis.”
Solidarity is the key to defeating Covid-19 and we must continue to stay committed to our people and our planet throughout our trials and tribulations.
What’s the concept behind Yoga CEO?
Yoga CEO is the latest evolution of my first start-up, Yoginfinity. The original idea was to make yoga and meditation more accessible to the whole population. But in recent years I realised that I could have an impact on a bigger scale, focusing on yoga and meditation for leaders, due the continued uncertainty and stress levels that they experience in continued changing environments. When leaders manage their stress exceptionally, they have a positive impact on their teams.
When did you launch the business?
I started teaching private yoga classes in
2014, during a transition period after my last corporate job at Nokia, as a way to share my knowledge with others while keeping myself active physically and mentally while looking for a job. I then decided to work simultaneously in building my first yoga start-up, which I launched in 2016. It has been evolving since then, adapting to market changes and is currently promoted under the current concept of ‘Yoga CEO’.
Your clients are CEOs and leaders; why does your business focus on this segment particularly and how does your offering align to meet the needs of it?
Having worked as senior marketer and entrepreneur for more than 15 years, I know the challenges of working under enormous pressure and having high levels of uncertainty. At the same time you still need to be productive, focused on motivating others and creative in finding solutions to new problems. I have experienced the same difficulties in my professional career, so alongside being a certified yoga instructor I am able to offer practical applications on how yoga can help those in leadership positions. To date, I have taught more than 6,000 hours, to all kinds of different people from all kinds of backgrounds. My offering includes flexibility in times, which is something that leaders need most of the time.
Busy leaders can jump into a yoga class, anytime, from any part of the world.
Online fitness is one of few to perhaps experience a boom at the moment, but what are some of the benefits, aside from social distancing during a pandemic, of tuning in to a virtual yoga or meditation session?
The virtual session gives you the comfort and privacy of doing it from your own office, home or hotel room. Imagine having a yoga/ meditation corner at your office, and just tuning in for a 30 minutes session, anytime you need it. You don’t even need to dress up, and meditation classes can be done sitting in a chair, in normal clothes. Creating a ‘calm’ space that you can access whenever you are stressed gives you safety, and that can’t be achieved in a normal studio, where you have to drive in and join a class at a specific time and with more people. That does not work for leaders, who need more flexibility due to the nature of their work. Also, if you create such space at your home or office, this allows you to start building up a mental mind-set connected to the practice, as you’ll be able to access that calmed estate of mind just by
being in that surrounding, whether you are doing the class or not.
Is the business exclusively virtual or is it a mix between a studio and online?
It is a mix: while some leaders prefer the face to face classes, some others can’t do physical classes due to the working hours, change in meetings or travelling. That was one of my main objectives: offer the flexibility they need, so the class is not another stress in their already packed agendas.
As a yoga expert, what are some of the benefits of yoga and for leaders? Continuous high levels of stress increases the cortisol in our body, which has a negative impact on our body and puts our brain into fight or flight mode, with little space for a more strategic type of thinking.
With yoga and meditation we lower the cortisol levels, and therefore are able to come up with more creative solutions, as well as boosting our immunity. Yoga and meditation also increase focus, concentration and lateral thinking, crucial for moments of uncertainty and crisis. Not to mention also the emotional benefit: they also allow us to boost our compassion levels, which is one of the latest trends for the leaders of the future: mindful leadership.
“WITH YOGA AND MEDITATION WE LOWER THE CORTISOL LEVELS, AND THEREFORE ARE ABLE TO COME UP WITH MORE CREATIVE SOLUTIONS” — STEFANIA BRUNORI
MINDFUL LEADERSHIP Stefania Brunori is launching an online version of her yoga program for leaders.