Five urgent sector-wide sustainability actions have been identified at the A World For Travel Summit, which was held in Nimes, France in October 2022.
The A World for Travel Forum took place last month for the second year in a row. Building on the learnings from the last year’s edition, travel leaders returned to discuss the 5 Urgent Acts and how their businesses are recalibrating to ensure that industry is rebuilt in a sustainable and equitable way, with the people and the planet at the forefront of their thinking.
Drivers for sustainability focused strategies
As observed by Forum’s participants, companies across all sectors declare sustainability as their top priority. The following four drivers for sustainability focused strategies have been identified:
- Regulatory compliance – fulfilling legal requirements and pro-actively anticipating upcoming regulations (avoid penalty fees),
- Investor & risk mitigation – investors, bankers & insurers are less eager to be exposed to fossil-based assets,
- Consumers’ & large clients’ expectations – large clients want to reduce value chain carbon footprint, customers want sustainable low carbon products / services,
- Conviction – preserving environment, developing society and being a responsible corporate citizen.
The 5 urgent acts
To ensure implementation of the sustainability focused strategies, a set of five urgent actions for multiple stakeholders have been identified by the Forum participants:
1. Collaboration as a transversal pillar to all other commitments
Accelerating collaboration – especially across sectors – has become an imperative for the travel industry to do more on sustainability. Collaboration between different industry players can lead to specific initiatives, for instance: creation of a global fund for sustainability in travel, development of multimodal travel offers, development of tools to compute a trip’s total impact, among others.
2. Offer and commit to carbon reduction and compensation plans for every sector
Every sector can do much more to reduce and compensate for carbon emissions.
Governments should ensure CO2 measurement and reporting systems, promotion of Net Zero solutions for the private sector, accelerating the replacement of highly polluting travel modes and subsidies for sustainable alternatives.
Actions to be taken by companies include improving their operations (developing carbon compensation plans, introducing energy management systems, measuring & reducing waste etc.), using alternative energy, improving existing infrastructure and developing new technologies to meet the sector needs.
3. Increase people’s engagement towards limiting their individual negative environmental impact
Regulatory bodies and companies have a critical role to play in shifting and increasing engagement towards limiting individual environmental impact.
Governments should focus on informing residents about carbon impact, protecting overexposed areas and limiting capacity of the vulnerable ones, promoting lesser known/emerging destinations as well as encouraging people to use sustainable transportation options.
Companies, from their side, should provide tourists with individual carbon consumption metrics, communicate company’s climate initiatives, encourage clients to act (eg. offset their carbon emissions), and adjust company’s travel offer to reduce high carbon footprint elements.
4. Prioritize investment to develop sustainable travel
Stakeholders play an important role both by investing directly in sustainable solutions and by guiding external investments.
It is expected from governments and regulatory bodies to invest in sustainable travel, create financial incentives and regulations to encourage ESG investments and also to promote new initiatives and sustainable labels.
Companies, on the other hand, should invest in green solutions (eg. lower carbon energy, infrastructure improvements, green technologies), develop new standards and business models, look for independent third-party certifications and finally, incentivise management and shareholders.
5. Improve social impact & leverage human resources adequately.
Improving social impact and leveraging Human Resources can be done in
multiple ways – Management is sustainable first and deploys 360° education
Travel industry faces huge social challenges, from high rotation of employees to negative impact on local communities.
The three main actions governments and local authorities should focus on include: educating residents and industry representatives, regulation of labour conditions and engaging local communities through recruitment, engaging them in planning and promotion of cultural heritage.
Companies should offer jobs that meet the needs of the new generation, investing in employee retention programs and creating adequate training programs, including on sustainability.
By listing the above priority areas, A World of Travel Summit motivates all stakeholders to move from words to action, and create positive impact. Knowing that change can’t be achieved overnight, one of the conference organisers ended the event with the following words of encouragement “Each of us can do more than we were doing yesterday. It takes our voices to reach others so please engage, talk, collaborate and together we can make a difference”.
To learn about A World For Travel Summit, visit their website.