Can we make Business Aviation more sustainable?
It’s been almost a month since I had the honour of attending the One Young World summit alongside nine other European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) delegates in The Hague. I was nominated alongside my colleague Patrick Müry from our partner company, Cat Aviation, to represent the Swiss Business Aviation Association (SBAA).
One Young World is an annual conference that brings together young professionals from all over the world to discuss and share innovative solutions for pressing issues from sustainability such as climate change, to humanitarian issues such as poverty, domestic violence and access to education and healthcare.
As part of Business Aviation’s goal to be more progressive and proactive, the EBAA sent us to learn about other industries and network with young global professionals to discover new ways that our industry may be able to solve some of our own challenges.
One Young World Delegates from Cat Aviation, Luxaviation, Privatefly, Time to Fly, Flyops, Jet Support, the Air Law Firm, Air Service Basel.
Businesses responsibility to be sustainable
Over the course of the 4-days, we heard from some of the world’s largest businesses who are putting ethics and corporate social responsibility at the top of their business models.
We listened to CEOs from companies that I wouldn’t have predicted to take an especially strong interest in the environment - for example, BP, who are investing their resources in reducing the use of coal and developing renewable energies.
Additionally, Feike Sibesma, CEO of DSM challenged us to think about what is a business’s role in society and believes that we won’t be able to run a successful company in ten years from now without including sustainability programmes. “No one can succeed in a failing society” so we must all work together to build solutions and take responsibility.
Millennials, in particular, are more aware of the concept of social responsibility and more concerned with global issues than previous generations. So, if business models are not changed “the millennials will not work for your company; the millennials will not buy your products” according to Sibesma.
In Business Aviation, I think we have to realise the impact of this and work on becoming more responsible as an organisation.
We can refer to the Expanding Horizons research led by the EBAA which concluded that 40% of the millennials believe that climate change is a trend that will have the most significant impact on the future of air transportation ahead of artificial intelligence. They also think that "new technology, environmental-friendly aircraft, ride-sharing and the ability to fly when and where you want” are the expectations of future users.
Changing the perception of Business Aviation
EBAA creative workshop with OYW delegates
During a creative EBAA workshop held on the final day, we spent the morning brainstorming our findings from the conference and also our own perceptions of the industry as young professionals. We concluded that the negative attitudes attached to Business Aviation; that it's old, insular and only serving only the rich and famous, for example, need to be addressed by the entire industry if we want to attract the next generation of customers and users.
Due to the nature of our work, we have a particular responsibility to protect our clients and to keep certain aspects of our industry private, and that should not change. However, we can focus on creating awareness in other areas that are contributing to society concerning access and flexibility for businesses. We can also focus on the humanitarian services we enable such as medical flights and disaster relief.
In conclusion, we discovered that we have a lot of potential to make positive impacts regarding jobs, resources and access and we could be leveraging these services much more to address particular world issues and to make our industry much more sustainable.
Next steps for Business Aviation Ambassadors
The energy that comes from an event like One Young World can only be described a contagious, and I feel inspired to make a difference within our community.
The amount of issues that are happening in the world can be vastly overwhelming - and hearing about all of them in a conference like that, I can assure you, is overwhelming - but a few key takeaways for me are that no matter what we do, or how small of a difference we can make, we have to collectively stand up and take responsibility to create a more sustainable world.
Professor Yunus gave a particularly thought-provoking speech where he said ""Would the world survive this century? Will you be the last generation of this planet? Or will your children be the last generation? How long do we have to protect this planet?"
Professor Muhammad Yunus, Social Entrepreneur
He also told us that ‘old roads don’t take you to new destinations, you need to build new roads’.
I am so grateful to have met nine like-minded colleagues from different countries, companies, and professional areas, and I’m looking forward to working in the team over the next few months to try and build a few new roads for Business Aviation.