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GBTA Launches Industry’s First Global Sustainable Procurement Standards to Pave the Way for Responsible Practices in Business Travel

Industry-wide, open-source solution provides corporate travel managers with a harmonized approach for requesting information on suppliers’ sustainability practices, starting with the aviation sector

The GBTA Foundation, the charitable arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), has launched GBTA Sustainable Procurement Standards, an educational resource that corporate travel buyers worldwide can utilize to make informed procurement decisions and deliver on their organization’s sustainability objectives. The Standards also align with the Biden Administration’s formal commitment last December to accelerate sustainable travel practices.

Additionally, GBTA Sustainable Procurement Standards help ensure suppliers are better prepared to respond to procurement-related requests in a harmonized way by providing a standard set of questions for assessing the sustainability practices of current or potential vendors, partners, and suppliers. The Standards are a free resource with the first set focusing on the aviation sector. GBTA will release additional standards for industry sectors including hotels and ground transportation in the coming months.

“One of the biggest sustainability challenges faced by the business travel industry around procurement is focusing on issues that are meaningful and driving positive change across the ESG spectrum,” said Delphine Millot, Managing Director of the GBTA Foundation and Senior Vice President for Sustainability and Advocacy at GBTA. “This is why the GBTA Foundation convened the entire value chain of business travel to agree on common, global standards to benchmark the sustainability performance of airlines, hotels and car rental companies. The new Standards offer a practical solution for buyers to support their procurement efforts and streamlines the process for suppliers, ultimately fostering a more responsible travel ecosystem.”

The Standards are a list of relevant questions and considerations adaptable to companies’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities and development level. An educational guide, included with the questions, describes the vertical-specific topics travel buyers should take into account when assessing suppliers on their sustainability performance. The Sustainable Procurement Standards are available on the GBTA Foundation website, as well as in the GBTA Hub for GBTA members.

The GBTA Foundation and GBTA Sustainability Committee collaborated with business travel stakeholders, subject matter experts and sustainability standard setters for about 18 months to validate the Standards’ concept, framing and content. Over 50 leading business travel companies, non-profits and industry associations were consulted, as well as the relevant GBTA committees and stakeholder groups such as the Sustainability Leadership Council and Corporate Advisory Board.

“One of the most daunting tasks in our sustainable business travel journey was integrating sustainability into the RFx process. We quickly realized that there wasn’t one consistent path, numerous certifications, and varied guidance on how to apply the results into our program,” said Jenny Sabineu, Senior Manager, Travel (EMEA/LATAM) & Sustainability for Salesforce and GBTA Sustainability Committee member. “I am encouraged by GBTA’s leadership to help harmonize these efforts and drive toward collective progress to ensure sustainability is a business priority in the corporate buyer-supplier relationship.”

“The world of sustainability is complex, and travel buyers need a reliable resource to help them make informed decisions that best align with their corporate objectives and values. United applauds GBTA for taking a leading role in delivering this essential tool,” said Lauren Riley, Chief Sustainability Officer and Managing Director, Global Environmental Affairs, United and Chair, GBTA Foundation Sustainability Leadership Council.

In addition to the aviation sector criteria, GBTA will also release standards for accommodations and ground transportation in 2024, with other verticals scheduled for development in 2025. The meetings and events standards, part of GBTA’s commitment as a Supporting Association to the Net Zero Carbon Events Coalition, will begin in 2025.

  • On April 3 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET, the GBTA Foundation and Sustainability Committee will present more information about the Sustainable Procurement Standards at a free webinar, which will provide an explanation about why the Sustainable Procurement Standards were created and show how to integrate them into the procurement and supplier management process. There will also be a brief Q & A session, where attendees will have the chance to have their questions addressed in real time. Click here to register.
  • The Foundation will also use in-person opportunities to share information about the Standards at upcoming GBTA events, including the Canada, LATAM and APAC Conferences this April and May, and the GBTA Convention in July.
  • More details are available anytime via the Standards FAQ document here.
  • Additionally, GBTA is hosting a Sustainable Travel Management course at Convention for corporate travel managers to learn more about the practical application of climate action and the management, reduction and tracking of carbon emissions from business travel. Registration is live now.

To learn more about the GBTA Foundation, go to www.gbtafoundation.org.