In this special summer series, members of the responsible investment industry share their staycations and sustainable holiday activities with ESG Clarity readers.
Following our popular Working from Home with… and A Sustainable Xmas with… series on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic, we wanted to find out how holiday plans have changed – and become more environmentally and socially friendly – in a year where travel abroad looks challenging.
Here, Rahab Paracha, sustainable multi-asset investment specialist for the Rathbone Greenbank Multi-Asset Portfolios shares her breaks in Cheshire and Bath.
Where are you holidaying this year and with whom? How will you travel there?
Wedding season is back in full swing, so my husband and I are using them as an opportunity to book some weekends away around the UK. We’ll be catching the train to Cheshire and Bath to spend a few nights away from the hustle and bustle of central London, and enjoy a bit of tranquillity. We’ve already taken advantage of my northern roots and spent some time off at my parents near the Lake District – luckily we didn’t get the Northern weather though!
How does this differ from your ‘usual’ holidays?
I have staycationed pre-Covid but usually around winter to enjoy the cosy Christmas markets. For me, typically, the summer is the time for a short European break or two with friends or family, sightseeing around different cities – Rome is a firm favourite. But it’s nice to use this opportunity to re-discover some beautiful places here on our doorstep in the UK too, especially given all the uncertainty around foreign travel.
It has been a very tough year. How will this holiday help you reset and refresh?
Working from home with no outdoor space has been difficult at times – there are only so many walks around the area you can do! So, getting away to some lovely new scenery will definitely help to reconnect with nature and switch off from work properly. The extrovert in me also misses socialising and catching up with friends as a way of clearing the mind.
How will you ensure your holiday is environmentally friendly?
Getting to and during the holiday, we will be sticking to public transport – so, walking, trains and buses -rather than driving wherever possible. A holiday can also be a good excuse to buy a whole new summer wardrobe, but instead I’ll be getting out the old summer clothes and borrowing from friends where I can.
Share some (sustainable) activities you have planned for your staycation?
I’m a huge foodie! So a large part of holidays for me involves discovering the best local brunch and dinner spots. However, this time my husband and I have made a pact to eat more sustainably on our trips, and have made a list of the best vegan and plant-based restaurants to go to at our destinations. I’ve also gained a newfound love for walking (going on daily walks during three lockdowns will do that to you), so I’ve planned some lovely scenic walks for us around both Cheshire and Bath.
What’s your holiday reading?
Normally, I have both a fiction and non-fiction book option depending on my mood. But for non-fiction this time I’ll be bringing Melinda Gates’ book The Moment of Lift, which shines a light on the struggles and inequalities women face around the world and the importance of female empowerment.
Do you think you will be “staycationing” more in the future? Or are you looking forward to travelling abroad?
Although I miss discovering new cultures by travelling abroad, these last 18 months have opened my eyes to the benefits of “staycationing” as well. Not only is it more sustainable, but it can also be more convenient and cost effective. It has also given me the opportunity to spend more of my annual leave bonding with family, rather than constantly being out and about. Rather than finishing the holiday more tired than I started, I’ve found it’s enabled me to rest and relax a bit more.
How do you think the Covid-19 pandemic will impact business travel long term?
The pandemic has sped up the trend towards digital communication, so long-term this is likely to mean less business travel, which is great for the environment. However, I think working from home for so long has also shown that there is still an irreplaceable benefit to human interaction and, in some instances, videoconferencing just cannot replace those face-to-face meetings. I can’t predict where the balance falls between the two in the future, but I do hope some of the reductions in carbon emissions, as a result of the pandemic and changing habits, are here to stay.
What’s on your radar for the ESG investment industry for the rest of the year?
COP26 will be a highlight for ESG investors. Given that it has already been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there are some long overdue conversations to be had regarding progress towards the Paris Agreement and what this means for government policy. There will be a particular light shone on the UK’s climate response, given the conference is being held in Glasgow, which could have some interesting investment implications to keep an eye on.