The GBTA’s first Global Sustainability Summit focused on decarbonizing business travel in alignment with the Paris Climate Goals – and the 27th United Nations Climate Summit (COP27) happening concurrently this week in Egypt – and acknowledged the urgency, value of collaboration and the need for concrete action.
The one-day event was held at the Square – Brussels Meeting Center and was hosted by the GBTA and the GBTA Foundation and welcomed close to 300 global delegates including sustainability, travel industry, and policy leaders and experts to outline concrete solutions and map a climate action plan for sustainable global business travel.
Delphine Millot, Senior Vice President, Sustainability, GBTA and Managing Director, GBTA Foundation, said: “The level of engagement at this inaugural event shows that our industry and others recognize that a collective approach to sustainability is critical – and taking action is of the utmost importance.”
Millot continued: “For GBTA, building a greener future means championing industry efforts, developing and scaling solutions and tools, and ultimately eliminating the carbon footprint of business travel so people and businesses can continue to connect.”
GBTA recently became the first business travel organization to join the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Travel and Tourism.
To deliver on the commitment to drive action in the business travel sector to halve emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050, GBTA has committed to releasing a Climate Action Plan outlining pathways for the industry.
And during a think tank session at the Summit, members of the GBTA Sustainability Leadership Council guided participants in outlining an industry plan aligned with the five pathways of the Declaration: “Measure, Decarbonise, Regenerate, Collaborate, Finance.”
The Summit’s closing session saw keynote speaker, Dr. Gabrielle Walker, Founder and Director of Valence Solutions and non-profit organization, Rethinking Removals, address “The Climate for Change” and what a low carbon future looks like for business travel.
Walker emphasized the importance of reshaping finance and investing in innovative technologies to reduce emissions. Her call to action to the industry was to gradually replace traditional offsets by carbon removals to achieve net zero goals for business travel.
Mark Cuschieri, GBTA Sustainability Leadership Council Chair, and GBTA Board of Directors Vice President, said: “Our goal is to empower global travel buyers and suppliers to place climate action at the forefront of their travel programs and operations to accelerate the industry’s green transition.”
Cuschieri pointed out that: “The only way we’ll get to a greener future and achieve the Race to Net Zero is by getting there together as an industry. This Summit was an impactful next step, but there’s a lot of work ahead – and GBTA will be sharing more as the journey continues.”
Cuschieri concluded the Summit by outlining what GBTA will be prioritizing over the coming year to foster action and progress:
- Advocating with policymakers for investments in Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and green technologies, development of the rail and charging infrastructure, better multimodality, and interoperability, as well as a single global standard to calculate emissions for business travel
- Harmonizing attributes to benchmark sustainability efforts by suppliers?
- Extending partnerships with like-minded organizations and NGOs to multiply the impact of the collective work
- Establishing a climate action plan and pathway for the industry, with a roadmap and concrete steps on how to decarbonize business travel – building on the momentum and outcomes of the Summit’s think tank session?
In 2021, GBTA launched its Sustainability Program to support climate action initiatives working in tandem with its members, the industry, and other essential stakeholders.
Since then, GBTA has released a comprehensive, landmark study, “The State of Sustainability in the Global Business Travel Sector,” and hosted an inaugural Sustainability Pavilion at the 2022 GBTA Convention, as well as launched a revamped Sustainability Toolkit.
The association has also attracted expert advisors from across the industry as part of the Program’s Founding Partners, Sustainability Leadership Council, and Corporate Advisory Board. In addition to becoming a Glasgow Declaration signatory, GBTA has entered into a strategic partnership with the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance.
Go to www.gbta.org for more.