If you’re automatically doing the math, the answer, of course, is 5! And we all know that “5 A Day” is the recipe for a healthy life. In this case, TIACA has identified 5 ingredients for a more sustainable future. TIACA held a webinar on 29APR21 titled “People… Planet… Prosperity” where it presented the results of the 1st TIACA Air Cargo Industry Sustainability Survey carried out by Change Horizon in Q4/2020.
“People… Planet… Prosperity” are the 3 main categories for action, whilst the 2 in the formula refers to the 2 enablers required to move sustainability forward: innovation and partnerships. Glyn
Hughes, TIACA Director General, summarized the point of the TIACA survey initiative: "Sustainability is one of the key priority areas for TIACA as the air cargo industry must reflect the
global society it serves. We must collectively seek to focus on People, Planet and Prosperity. To flourish in the years to come, we must create equal opportunities for all, embrace technology and
innovation, and ensure we implement environmentally responsible solutions designed to protect the planet today and for generations to come."
No uniform definition of sustainability
127 respondents from companies of all sizes, from all four corners of the earth, and a good cross section of the industry: airlines, airports, ground handlers, forwarders, shippers, solution providers, consultants, associations, and media, gave their input. The initial question, the definition of sustainability, was a free-text entry, and the result was that there is no single, uniform definition of sustainability. Whilst many equate sustainability with environmental measures first and foremost, it covers a much broader spectrum. TIACA advocates the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and sees its key function in helping and advising its members in the options available to achieving the areas of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals most relevant to their business.
The survey’s key findings: Sustainability is good for business
The survey highlighted the fact that not only is there a strong focus on sustainability in companies, with 4 in 5 respondents indicating concrete actions having been defined in their company’s strategy (most often, carbon reduction, waste management, and energy were cited as key action areas), and two-thirds disclosing that sustainability is of growing significance when it comes to procurement activities, but it also demonstrated that, despite the difficult pandemic situation, the role of sustainability gained an even greater weighting (for 63% of respondents) in 2020. In fact, Covid-19 may even have promoted the sustainability focus, given that some financial aid packages to aviation companies come with sustainability conditions attached. Yet, the survey also highlighted different priorities in sustainability drivers, depending on the location of the respondents. For example, whilst in Europe, sustainability appears to be of importance for regulators (43%), they only play a minor role (11%) in Asia.
The common denominator overall, however, is that sustainability is seen as good for business: both customers and employees are mainly driving the need for change, and those companies focusing on sustainability across all its facets not only come across as more attractive and credible, but they also tend to perform better and are more resilient.
Questions to reflect on
The webinar, in which key speakers also outlined the focus points behind the 3+2 formular, and the 27-page Change Horizon document portraying the survey’s findings in detail, contain much food for thought. Two questions that arose in the webinar, were, for example, related to regulators and training. Overall, the survey showed that regulators were seen as the least important drivers for sustainability. Celine Hourcade put the question out there: “I was a bit surprised and a bit concerned, personally, on this result for regulators. In one way is it very good, because what we don’t want, is to have an industry moving only because it is pushed by regulation. But traditionally, the air cargo industry has transformed, changed, adopted new things, mainly when it was required by regulators, so I have a bit of concern here: is the sustainable transformation of the industry going to happen, if there is not a strong push from regulators?”
With regard to training, the survey shows that “while it is universally recognized that employee development is a key factor to enhance loyalty and team development, only 53% of respondents have a comprehensive organizational wide training and development plan in place” Celine Hourcade underlined that this is “very worrying, because this is an industry that is really driven by its people, moving highly specialized goods with very specific handling and safety requirements, so it relies heavily on training and education to make sure that the workforce is equipped to handle shipments properly, and also to adapt to new technologies and processes.”
Training and education are key, so why do half of the companies not have a training program in place?
Who is responsible for sustainability and strategic success?
Every one of us has a voice. Sustainability may be a strategic focus area on your company’s agenda, yet whether it is or is not, sustainability starts with you: your choice in how you get to work, your choice in speaking up in the face of inequality, your choice in putting forward ideas for improvement, your choice from deciding whether to print that document, whether to leave that light on, or to reach out and mentor someone. We are all people on the same planet and will only prosper if we encourage innovation and partnerships. We are only ever as strong and as sustainable as our weakest link. 3 + 2 = 1. It starts with you.
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