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 is looking challenging.
Here, Schroders‘ associate sustainable investment director Claire Herbert shares her break enjoying nature and wildlife in Norfolk.
Where are you holidaying this year and with whom? How will you travel there?
I escaped to Norfolk for a long weekend with some friends. We travelled by train as far as we could, though did have to use a car for the last part! Electric car, of course.
How does this differ from your ‘usual’ holidays?
I used to staycation a lot as a child, but once I could afford the luxury of going abroad, I must admit I have become accustomed to escaping the classic British summer. I like to experience new things and learn about where I travel to. Prior to the pandemic, I thought I needed to go abroad to go somewhere that felt genuinely ‘new’.
It has been a very tough year. How will this holiday help you reset and refresh?
I have been incredibly lucky to work for a company that has fully embraced flexible working, but working from home hasn’t come without its challenges. The line between work and home became very blurred and, like many others, I found it difficult to fully switch off. Going somewhere unfamiliar made a world of a difference, I felt like I could completely disconnect from work and enjoy my new surroundings.
How will you ensure your holiday is environmentally friendly?
Once we arrived, we aimed to travel everywhere by foot. This meant walking to the shops, the beach, to dinner, everywhere!
Share some (sustainable) activities you have planned for your staycation?
Walking through the marshes, bird and seal watching and swimming in the sea! There’s something about fully immersing yourself in your natural surroundings that feels very peaceful. It is also a great reminder why we all need to become more sustainable in the first place.
What’s your holiday reading?
Grow the Pie by Alex Edmans. If you’re not already convinced that the overlap of corporate activity and sustainability can help deliver profit, this book will change your mind.
What’s the verdict? Do you think you will be staycationing more in the future? Or are you looking forward to travelling abroad?
I am sure I will still enjoy the odd trip abroad, but it has made me think about whether to go as frequently. You don’t need to travel far to take a break and gain new, ‘exotic’ experiences. Two things I saw and learned on my trip: hundreds of Arctic terns nesting along the beach. Did you know they fly from the Artic to the Antarctic and back every year, getting more daylight than any other animal on earth? And grey seals basking in the sun on the Norfolk coastline. They are one of the rarer seal species worldwide, but about 40% of them live in UK waters!
How do you think the Covid-19 pandemic will impact business travel long term?
I don’t think we will ever see business travel return to the levels we recorded prior to the pandemic. Covid-19 forced companies to deliver the infrastructure needed to support online meetings and employees have experienced enough zoom calls to know that they can successfully run most meetings online. Business travel will inevitably pick back up to some degree, but given the damage it saves to both the environment and a company’s bottom line, I think virtual meetings are here to stay.
What’s on your radar for the ESG investment industry for the rest of the year?
With COP26 on the horizon, climate change continues to be a hot topic, but biodiversity and natural capital are also quickly rising up the agenda. Given the broad and currently undefined nature and scope of biodiversity, at least through an investment lens, initiatives like the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) will be critical in helping drive standards and disclosure, and support investors in better capturing this data to integrate into their investment decisions.