In the world of hospitality, sustainability doesn’t stop at property boundaries. Beyond the efforts on the property, the concept of sustainability also encompasses their surrounding environments and the communities that inhabit them. For Accor, the commitment to this broader idea of sustainability has inspired the company to focus on biodiversity. “All of our hotels, from luxury to economy, place sustainability at the heart of their operations, in line with our global commitments to help protect the environment and societies,” said Brune Poirson, Accor’s Chief Sustainability Officer. .
Accor takes great measures to preserve the natural environments and ecosystems that surround its properties. Here’s what it looks like across the company’s global presence.
Growing demand for sustainability in hospitality
As the brunt of climate change grows closer year by year, more and more travelers are choosing hotels that prioritize eco-friendly practices. In a recent Skift Research survey, an overwhelming majority of respondents said they thought it was important for travel agencies to embrace sustainability in their business. According Booking.com, 83% of travelers agree that sustainable travel is essential. A further 69% say they expect more sustainable options from industry.
Hospitality companies understand the urgency of sustainability and many, including Accor, are adapting as quickly as possible to meet both the present moment and consumer demand. “Our customers are asking for more sustainable options across the board, as well as responsible experiences that are more grounded in local ecosystems,” Poirson said. “Environmentalists and scientists have long understood that investing in sustainability and biodiversity is not just a ‘good thing to do’, but a matter of survival for any business.”
As sustainable hospitality becomes the norm, it will become increasingly important for businesses to educate and inform their customers about the steps they are taking. While three in four accommodation providers say they have at least some kind of sustainability practices in place at their properties, only a third proactively communicate about their efforts with potential guests, according to the Booking.com survey. .
Finding effective solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss requires new ways of working. Private companies must join forces and form new types of partnerships to find common solutions to these seemingly intractable problems. For example, Accor is actively engaged in the Sustainable Hospitality Alliancewhich “brings the hospitality industry together on environmental and social challenges, and uses its collective power to have local and global impact”. The company has also signed the Glasgow Declaration, which was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 and calls for increased urgency to accelerate climate action in tourism. More recently, in 2022, Accor joins the Ocean Framework, created by the Fondation de la Mer and supported by Amundi, to help assess the impact of its activities on marine fauna. Efforts like these demonstrate a collaborative approach that accelerates real-world impact.
Accor is also a pioneer in the protection of biodiversity. The company follows the standards recently launched by the Science Based Targets Network (SBTN), which offers a systemic response to biodiversity issues and advocates for ambitious corporate climate action. Integrating sustainable development into business logic allows Accor to promote internal standards that help make biodiversity a central strategic issue within the company. “At Accor, taking concrete action in favor of biodiversity means completely rethinking our food chain, from more responsible sourcing of our products to changing our food consumption habits, while reducing food waste,” said Fish.
Accor’s Biodiversity commitment starts internally
Based on the recommendations of the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Accor has chosen to place biodiversity at the heart of its sustainable development strategy. “Accor largely depends on ecosystems and natural resources to exist,” Poirson explained. “Hospitality depends on the supply, regulation and cultural services that biodiversity offers us.
In the same way that biodiversity honors all of the myriad forms of life that enable our planet to thrive, Accor encourages an all-for-one and one-for-all approach to corporate sustainability. The deployment of concrete and ambitious measures for biodiversity is supported by the company’s top management. In addition, Accor encourages each employee and each stakeholder to integrate sustainable development practices into their daily activities through dedicated programs and initiatives.
At Accor, employees are encouraged to become agents of change and are empowered to challenge their managers to do even more for the environment. “Our Saving the Environment Every Day (SEED) network is made up of people from all departments of Accor, who come together to think about upcoming local initiatives implemented in the daily working lives of our teams,” said Poirson. “It’s not just for sustainability experts, but for anyone who wants to get involved, whether they’re curious or engaged, well-informed or just starting their climate change journey. Our employees can also participate in the Clean Up Day, which we organize locally and at company level. This is all about unlocking a sustainability mindset.
Real progress requires real programs
From there, meaningful and measurable sustainability programs naturally emerge across all Accor divisions. An example of this in practice is the recent launch of School For Change, a biodiversity-focused sustainability training program mandatory for all Accor Group employees. During the three-hour training, employees learn about the basics of climate change, the loss of biodiversity the planet is currently facing, and the impact of these changes on today’s societies. “We educate our employees that sustainability is a priority for everyone and respond accordingly to the challenges presented in the mass training program,” Poirson said.
In addition to ambitious commitments and concrete company-wide projects, Accor also invites its guests to live out its corporate commitment to biodiversity by developing local voluntourism programs adapted to the immediate environment and the community of each hotel.
At Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi Hotel, guests can participate in the resort’s coral restoration project by helping resident marine biologists attach fragments of baby coral to underwater frames. The Pullman Luang Prabang resort has also been recognized for its approach to sustainability: the local community participates in various initiatives, including a farm-to-table restaurant concept that focuses on local, seasonal and organic ingredients grown on-site or by locals. neighboring farmers. And at Fairmont Orchid Hawaiiguests can help restore a 275-acre lowland preserve in partnership with the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative.
The Fairmont Beehives Program, for example, was designed to support the health of bees, whose pollination behaviors are absolutely essential to natural ecosystems. To date, Accor has installed more than 20 bee apiaries and 20 hotels for wild pollinating bees in the rooftop gardens of Fairmont properties around the world. At the same time, other sustainable development initiatives enable Accor to address biodiversity on a global scale.
The urgency of biodiversity and sustainability
The sad reality of climate change is that issues of biodiversity and sustainability come with a real sense of urgency. “As an industry, we don’t have the luxury of time,” Poirson said. “At Accor, we know that we cannot protect our planet and shape the future of travel alone. We need all guests, owners, suppliers, investors and employees to move forward on a sustainable journey… That’s why we encourage our peers to be bold and dare to take the plunge. We must prioritize collaboration over competition and embrace a 21st century mindset.
For Accor, committing today to biodiversity and sustainability in the hotel industry is equivalent to a promise to protect the planet for many tomorrows. The company is ultimately determined to achieve a contributory model, in which every hotel stay fundamentally contributes to local ecosystems by giving more than is needed. “Industry must accelerate its contribution to restoring and healing the environment and society,” Poirson said. “We aim to accelerate our efforts to achieve a sustainability revolution.”
If you would like to know more about Accor’s initiatives in terms of biodiversity and other measures taken by Accor in favor of sustainable development, go to Accor press area or watch Accor’s recent brand presentation at the Skift Sustainable Tourism Summit here.