Can we still afford to care about sustainability?

Article submitted by Change Horizon – TIACA’s Partner for Sustainability & Transformation projects

Written by: Justina Balnaite, Senior Consultant and Thomas Langlois, Intern

Earlier this month, TIACA held its first Sustainability4Cargo webinar starting with this controversial question: can we still afford to care about Sustainability? Despite growing environmental and societal concerns across the world, seeing the impact that COVID-19 crisis has had on economies, aviation and air cargo, business priorities certainly have been affected, making that question relevant. It is however foreseeable that sustainability matters will be higher in everybody’s agenda, with a growing pressure from regulators and public for the environmental performance and social impacts, and from investors for the profitability aspects.

88% of the webinar participants confirmed that belief stating that more than ever we have the opportunity to reimagine our next normal and embed sustainability into our strategy.

However only 37% declared that sustainability is a key priority for their company, meaning supported by the top management, with a strategy, a team, a budget and targets set. It shows the air cargo players need to accelerate the pace and their industry associations have a key role to play to help every single company to understand the challenges, project themselves into the future and embed sustainability in their strategy.

We believe TIACA is uniquely positioned to lead the efforts in progressing the environmental, social and economic impacts of air cargo through innovation and partnerships. This 3+2 is how we defined TIACA’s Sustainability program launched in 2019.

In March 2020, we were ready to launch the first annual Air Cargo Industry Sustainability Survey and actively contribute to the Sustainability discussions at the IATA World Cargo Symposium specifically on people and environmental matters. Partnership with industry associations and sustainability initiatives worldwide were being discussed to accelerate progress and amplify the positive impacts. While Covid19 crisis has delayed some of TIACA’s initiatives, we are now resuming sustainability-related activities:

  • TIACA’s 2nd Air Cargo Sustainability Awards, sponsored by CHAMP Cargosystems, will have 2 categories this year: one for Corporates and one for Start-ups with a USD 10’000 cash prize for the winner. The competition is open and applicants will have until mid-September to participate.
  • Following the success of the 1st Sustainability4Cargo Webinar, we will organize new ones to go deeper into specific topics. The next ones will be focusing on “Decarbonizing air cargo” and “Investing in people: recognizing essential workers and developing tomorrow’s talents”. If you wish to contribute to one of them, reach out to Celine (chourcade@tiaca.org)!
  • The 1st Air Cargo Sustainability Survey will be launched in Q4 this year. We believe it will be important to set up a baseline / year 0 picture, in order to monitor the progress year-on-year

We believe it will take all air cargo players, from airlines, freight forwarders and shippers, to name a few, to global industry organizations like ICAO, FIATA, IATA and ACI, as well as public-private cooperation platforms and governments to join forces, define a common vision and ambitious targets, and put global sustainability standards in place and abide by them. This is why we are calling more companies to join the Sustainability Strategic Partnership program and for industry collaboration to accelerate the sustainable transformation of air cargo.

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