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Duty of sustainability

The corona pandemic forced us to behave differently when it comes to business travel. For many, this has opened their eyes in terms of sustainability and cost savings. This exceptional situation is the ultimate moment to reflect on sustainability in business travel. In this article we look at the duty of sustainability. In other words, the duty of organizations to take into account the sustainability of their business operations. In this case, we focus on international business travel.

Business travel accounts for 25% of the ecological footprint
Business travel is polluting, we don’t need to make a secret of that. Flying around the world is an important component of the ecological footprint of companies. Climate Neutral Group conducted research on this and concluded that for large companies, business travel accounts for as much as 25% of the ecological footprint. It is therefore absolutely essential to introduce measures to reduce this.

Stop travelling?
There are several ways to do business more sustainably. The simplest step is to stop travelling altogether. However, this will not be an option in many cases, even after the coronapandemic. It is possible, however, to look more critically at the total package of travel. Are there international meetings that could be held by video conference? Are domestic or European destinations accessible by train? Are the CO2 emissions from travel compensated or are environmentally friendly fuels used? All in all, there are several quick-wins to make travel more environmentally friendly.

Set criteria in the travel policy
An organization’s travel policy can also set criteria at the policy level for sustainable travel. For example, name the following requirements in the travel policy:

  • Fly non-stop. Use stopovers as little as possible;
  • always fly economy class;
  • only take hand luggage;
  • choose a ‘green’ vehicle as your rental car;
  • use public transport or share a cab for local transport; provided that the corona measures allow it;
  • travel by train if possible;
  • encourage bicycle use for commuting.

All of these criteria contribute to a greater or lesser extent to the sustainability of travel. By focusing a little more on these things, travel becomes a lot ‘greener’.

Set a good example
From a theoretical point of view, drafting policies is a great step. To see results, it is essential that travelers and other involved employees also adhere to the policies in practice. To realize this, communication is essential. Explain why measures are taken and what the positive consequences are. In addition, it is important that policy makers set a good example. How can you expect employee involvement in ‘greener travel’ if management drives polluting cars or travels inefficiently? Everyone contributes to a more sustainable organization.

Sustainability results in reduced costs
Often sustainable travel is linked to increased costs. The opposite is true. By traveling smarter and therefore more sustainably, you save costs. Many of the above tips for sustainability criteria in the travel policy, for example, already contribute to cheaper business travel. In addition to the cost aspect, sustainability has even more benefits:

  • Sustainability policies create innovation. From within the organization you can look for ways to travel internationally without using polluting travel options. From airlines and other suppliers, such policies create a flywheel to make travel more sustainable.
  • Sustainability policies increase quality. By being more critical of travel, the quality of travel is increased. Travel must have a concrete and well-founded purpose. If a trip does not have that, is it really necessary to travel?
  • Sustainability policy ensures a better image and good reputation. In addition, such a policy demonstrates good employment practices which contribute positively to employee and customer satisfaction.

Companies must actively work on their duty of sustainability. Do you share this opinion? We would be happy to help you make your international business travel ‘greener’.

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