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CEO Sustainability Series | Interview with Garth Simmons, Chief Executive Officer, Accor Southeast Asia, Japan & South Korea

As part of the our Sustainable Business initiative, the French Chamber of Commerce in Singapore presents a leadership interview series where we invite CEOs and key executives to discuss crucial management qualities that drive successful sustainable transformation.

 

What has your company’s sustainability journey been like so far?

Accor was the first hospitality group to implement a sustainability policy in 1974 with the strong conviction that the environment is vital to tourism. This policy evolved into the group’s Planet 21 programme in 2012, outlining 21 commitments under six pillars covering social, environmental and community involvement. Fast forward to 2021, this was the year Accor accelerated its journey towards sustainability with game changing environmental initiatives such as committing to and acting as the first major international hotel group to achieve net zero by 2050, eradicating all single-use plastics in our properties, and collaborating with our peers with the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Glasgow Declaration.

 

 

 

How has the hotel industry changed its approach towards sustainability over the years?

The importance of solidarity has been a key lesson during the last 18 months. Accor launched the ALL Heartist Fund in the early onset of the pandemic – a 70m euro fund to support employees facing serious financial difficulties as a result of suspended operations or reduced hours. Southeast Asia accounted for around 70% of the global grants and Accor has supported over 74,700 Heartists with more than €20.5 million distributed to our vulnerable communities in this region.

As expectations and local regulations evolved over the years, it was important to adapt goals to locally specific needs wherever we operate. To support these objectives, it was essential to adopt a major shift of mindset in how we manage our sustainability goals by involving all areas of the business, to adjust operations to contribute to a more positive hospitality, reducing our environmental footprint and educating Heartists® - our employees - and local communities to be mindful of their natural surroundings.

Procurement teams have become increasingly critical in the sustainable transformation of our supply chains. Securing strategic partnerships with suppliers and making sure there is transparency across these supply chains is key to mitigating risk, whether environmental, social, or legal. It is an extremely effective method of ensuring we are aligned towards our company goals. Meanwhile, Food & Beverage teams are key to support such areas as food waste reduction. They are the ambassadors of Accor’s Sustainable Food Charter, which drives positive change through fresher, healthier, more local and sustainable offerings across our restaurants and bars.

We recognise that our guests want to travel more responsibly, so we have ensured that we have taken action towards a more holistic approach to sustainability across the company. There has been a global mindset shift over the last few years on the subject, and we are fortunate to have partners and owners supporting us on our journey.

Accor is the first international hotel group to make a commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The objective is not only to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, but also to reduce by 2030 our absolute scope 1 & 2 emissions by minus 46%. One of our strategies to reduce carbon emissions is by working with our competitors to come up with common standards where the entire industry starts acting now and together to fight climate change.

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