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Sustainability extends far beyond environmental issues!

Sustainability extends far beyond environmental issues!

I recently was attended a presentation from the UN Global Compact, under the theme “Accelerating and scaling Global Impact”.  What I found particularly interesting was that our sustainable development goals comprised no less than 17 parts covering a broad spectrum of initiatives that comprised far more than just the environmental impact that our industry has on the planet.

For the uninitiated, the purpose of an ESG Strategy, as one definition puts it, is to “demonstrate the environmental, social, and governance factors that your organisation believes to be intrinsically important to consider within your current and future business operations”.  I am not going to list them all but they were essentially covered within the four key broad initiatives of Environment, Anti-Corruption (which falls under Governance), Human Rights and Labour. As it is a broad subject I would like to talk about the first two of these in this article and then as we approach our Human Rights Day publish something on the areas of Human Rights and Labour.

Our environment remains important

I have written quite extensively about the impact that the travel and tourism industries have on the environment and the great strides that we have made to improve things, as well as offering advice on how all travellers can do their part to reduce carbon emissions. I thought you might find it interesting, however, to understand how we see our environmental responsibility and a bit of a breakdown of the various areas that we cover. 

We have three primary principles that we adhere to when dealing with environmental issues and these are a) that businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges; b) we should undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility and c) encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies. So it’s not just about less air travel to reduce carbon initiatives, within the 17 sustainability goals we cover providing clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, life below water and on land and of course, with global warming being more and more evident with each season, the vitally important “climate action!”

Anti-corruption and Governance 

We have one important business principle that we adhere to when it comes to corruption, which is that all businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery. This comes down to good governance and many business do have very clear policies on business ethics and fair business conduct. The question we need to ask ourselves, is whether we have created a “safe” environment within our businesses and communities to ensure that where whistle-blowing does take place, those who stand up against corrupt practices are protected? 

Finding the balance  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, one of Germany’s most famous authors said, “So divinely is the world organised that every one of us, in our place and time, is in balance with everything else”. I do believe that true sustainability is a balance of all the factors covered within our ESG framework. For example, we need to remember that although flying may negatively impact the environment, those travelling into SA assist with the upliftment of our people and our wildlife, so one balances out the other. In my next article I’ll cover the other primary sustainability goals of Human Rights and Labour so watch this space, and in the meantime let’s all keep working toward holistic sustainability solutions encompassing all the facets of a better life for all on this great planet of ours.

LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

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