Experts have urged the travel and aviation industry to lead the way in encouraging greater social responsibility.
In the absence of leadership fostering greater social responsibility, Bioenergy Australia – an advocacy association for the growth of the bioenergy sector – CEO said Thursday the travel industry must enact change itself.
“In the absence of significant leadership in driving a transition … in reducing carbon … it does rely on industry to be the leaders,” Bioenergy Australia CEO Shahana McKenzie said.
“I think in Australia we are now seeing a disconnect where potentially the population is leading ahead of Government.”
Her comments came during a discussion on the second day of the CAPA 2019 Australia Pacific Aviation & Corporate Travel Summit.
Leading the all-female panel were industry leaders from Bioenergy Australia, Etihad Airways, The Sustainable Traveller and World Animal Protection, who addressed how the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals can be incorporated into businesses.
These are a set of 17 goals created by the UN as part of its blueprint to achieve “a better and more sustainable future for all” by 2030.
The UN writes: “They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice.”
Of particular note during the discussion was having businesses ensure gender equality, reduced inequalities – particularly in developing countries –, climate action and environmental sustainability is enshrined in their operations.
For The Sustainable Traveller founder Dayana Brooke and World Animal Protection executive director Simone Clarke, the latter of the four was particularly important from a travel supplier and consumer perspective.
“Without trying to overextend the role of sustainability, I think it is core to our existence and co-existence,” Clarke said.
From a consumer’s point of view, Brooke said suppliers can do a better job of adequately defining eco-conscious travel.
“We really need to focus on creating channels of transparency for the consumer … so they can make more ethical choices.”
She added the rise of flight shaming and choosing not to fly by Europeans – particularly millennials – was a sign that consumers are demanding this from suppliers.
A positive example of flight shaming, which Brooke referred to, is KLM’s Fly Responsibly campaign, which encourages potential customers to question their need to fly.
It also calls for airline solidarity to combat the issue of aircraft sustainability and urges airlines to join a corporate biofuel program.
Brooke reminded the audience that travellers had to be flying in the first place to benefit from campaigns like this.
“It’s great to have all this technology, like new biofuel, new aircrafts, but if the consumer isn’t travelling that’s going to change the landscape.”
After a stirring discussion and several calls to action from the panel, Brooke ended by urging businesses to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals.
“It’s truly an exciting time … it does come down to all of us to take action,” she said.
“It’s easy for us to sit here and talk and talk, but if we don’t go out that door and actually make a direct action every day – then it’s a bit pointless.
“We all have the power to make these changes.”
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