Challenges and history
The challenges of sustainable development
Mankind is using more and more natural resources to meet its growing needs, with worrisome consequences:
- The world is consuming nearly three times more energy than it did 40 years ago, 80% of this energy being provided by burning oil, coal and natural gas. Today, this situation raises two major concerns: first, energy combustion pollutes and heats the atmosphere on a large scale; second, this combustion relies on limited natural resources. It will take millions of years to replace the resources that we are consuming in just a few years.
- To meet its needs, mankind is taking an increasing share of the planet's natural resources, to the point that they may not be able to be replaced. Soils are losing fertility, forests are disappearing, reservoirs of drinking water are drying up, and nature is losing biological diversity.
- The increase in consumption has led to a global waste production that is 1.5 times higher than 20 years ago, and only 10% of that waste is currently recycled. This waste poses both storage and environmental pollution problems.
At the same time, mankind is three times more affluent than it was 40 years ago, but significant problems remain:
- More than one billion people still live below the world poverty line of USD 1.25 a day.
- Nutrition is a subject of concern in both the North and the South. Nearly one billion people suffer from malnutrition, while in the world's most affluent countries dietary habits are becoming a major source of cardio-vascular diseases.
- Demographic and social changes on the planet are rapidly increasing the speed at which infectious diseases spread and, as a result, the impact of those diseases. For example, 33 million people in the world are HIV positive, and 90% of them do not know they are infected.
- Finally, development differences have shown the importance of education. Education must often be improved from the ground up since in dozens of countries, more than one out of every two people is illiterate.
Faced with these challenges, all players in society can be drivers for change.
The responsibility of businesses
A company can be particularly a force for change in the world once it assumes its responsibilities to its stakeholders – that is, the various groups directly or indirectly related to that company.
The United Nations Global Compact, launched in 1999, was one of the very first measures enlisting businesses to become more responsible. This responsibility can be demonstrated at various levels:
- Governance: if open and transparent, a business can establish winning strategies that take the interests of all stakeholders (local communities, investors, suppliers, etc.) into consideration.
- Human Resources: when a business makes a commitment to train its employees and promote diversity, it improves education and social integration at its level.
- Purchasing: through a responsible purchasing policy, a business can support the development of small local producers and the development of global segments such as organic or fair trade.
- Communication: through employee and customer awareness, a business can promote major causes such as the fight against HIV/AIDS or deforestation.
- Operations: through large-scale projects, a business can help to disseminate new practices such as selective waste sorting or promote new technologies like solar energy.
Possibilities for action are huge. Everyone can find a way to make his or her own contribution.
The role of the hotel industry
The hotel industry has a key role to play in sustainable development. Indeed, every hotel faces at its level the main current environmental issues: building heating, water consumption, household (guest) and industrial (laundry, restaurant) waste management, site preservation… A hotel is thus a real proving ground for exploring new technologies and new lifestyles.
In addition, a hotel group is located in all corners of the globe: in downtown areas and suburbs, in metropolitan and in rural areas, in mountains and along coasts, from the most modern regions to the most remote. This infinite variety of locations makes the hotel sector a direct and privileged witness to the major world problems, such as economic development, fight against diseases and illiteracy.
Hotels see the entire world pass through their doors. As a result, they represent a unique tool for increasing public awareness, either of social issues or new environmental practices.
What about Accor?
Accor, the world's leading hotel operator and market leader in Europe, is present in 92 countries. It builds a solid vision of sustainable development thanks to the experience of its 160,000 employees in Accor brand hotels worldwide and millions of customers around the world.
This unique positioning undoubtedly helps to explain Accor's groundbreaking commitment. As early as 1974, the Group's management classified the environment as the "raw material of tourism." Twenty years later, in 1994, Accor became one of the first major French corporations to establish an environment department.
Since then, Accor has had time to accumulate extensive experience in this area. A department was specifically created in 2002 in order to organize and direct this experience. Today, sustainable development is organized at Accor around a few core beliefs:
- sustainable development is not limited to the environment, but also includes all types of commitments to mankind (local development, fight against epidemics, protection of children from sexual tourism);
- a group like Accor wins by capitalizing on its ability to mobilize; through its large network of hotels and businesses around the world, Accor has the ability to rally a large number of partners around joint projects;
- last but nor least, communications on sustainable development must be focused on specific actions, remain rigorous and transparent on the results achieved.
History of Accor's commitment
- February: Accor group inaugurates its online store on eBay.fr and puts its hotel’s second-hand furniture up for sale.
- April: Launch of PLANET 21, Accor’s new sustainable development program.
- In 2011, Accor launches Earth Guest Research (now called PLANET 21 Research), a shared knowledge platform on sustainable development in the hospitality industry that is both free and open to all. Two studies are published : the first international tracking study on hotel guests expectations regarding sustainable development and the first multi-criteria life-cycle analysis for an international hospitality group
- Tourism for Tomorrow Award 2010 given to Accor by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) to award the Group's best practices in sustainable tourism around the world.
- Launch of a partnership with the Institut Pasteur in order to combat emerging diseases through Accor’s A|Club loyalty program.
- LEED ("Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design") certification for the Motel 6 Northlake-Speedway, which rewards construction of the establishment's high-performance, sustainable buildings.
- Launch by the Novotel brand of an e-learning training unit focused on sustainable development for its employees.
- Certification of the future Suite Novotel Issy-les-Moulineaux, one of the first hotels to be certified to France’s High Environmental Quality (HQE®) standards for service sector buildings.
- Launch of the Plant for the Planet project, which aims to plant 3 million trees by 2012 using the savings generated by towel reuse by guests.
- First edition of the Earth Guest day, Accor employees' worldwide day in favour of sustainable development, on April 22, International Earth day.
- Start of the "100 solar hotels" project, designed to promote solar technology in the hotel industry.
- Launch of "ACT-HIV", Accor's program to prevent and increase awareness of HIV/AIDS.
- Launch of the Earth Guest program, which structures the actions performed in the area of social and environmental responsibility around 8 priorities.
- Opening of the Novotel Montparnasse in Paris, the first hotel in France built in compliance with HQE® standards.
- Signature of a partnership with the Global Business Coalition (GBC) on HIV/ AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
- Update of the Accor Hotels Environment Charter, which now recommends 65 actions.
- Creation of OPEN, an intranet tool that allows each hotel to upload its water and energy consumption, as well as the charter measures it implements.
- ibis initiates the ISO 14001 certification of its network.
- Signature of the UN Global Compact.
- Launch of the Sustainable Procurement charter.
- Introduction of a fair coffee offer in the Sofitel hotels in France.
- Creation of the Group’s Sustainable Development Department, which handles both environmental and social issues.
- Partnership with the ECPAT association, which fights child sexual exploitation around the world.
- Launch of the Accor Hotels Environment Charter, which recommends 15 measures to be implemented in each hotel.
- Creation of the Group's Environment Department.