In 2020, disrupted by COVID-19, the aviation industry saw the sharpest decline in air travel since the Second World War. At the outset, SITA focused on keeping the industry’s operations running, and providing customers with technologies to help them adapt to the new environment.
At the same time, despite the pandemic, we maintained every effort to progress our CSR and sustainability strategy, adapting in some areas but overridingly remaining committed to managing the economic, environmental and social impacts of our organization.
Carbon neutrality before, or by, 2022
Throughout the year, we continued to work towards becoming a certified carbon neutral organization by 2022, through our Planet+ program. This program aims to define our emissions, measure them, and reduce the environmental impacts of our operations and business travel, while complementing those actions with offsetting initiatives. I am delighted to say that we fully expect to achieve, and beat, our 2022 target. This is good news, and it will help to create a sustainable future for our employees, our business, and our communities.
This year’s CSR Report covers our key topics with respect to environmental, social, and governance. Our strategy focuses on programs to reduce our environmental impact, to support the communities where we operate around the world, to be a responsible business, and to support our airline and airport customers’ programs to reduce their carbon emissions. With regard to their sustainability, and that of the aviation industry at large, SITA’s solutions are increasingly focusing on helping airlines and airports to decarbonize operations, which contributes to their carbon neutral growth.
The impact of COVID-19 on the air transport industry clearly affected SITA’s performance in the year, although, as outlined in the SITA Activity Report 2020, we were able to weather the storm. We introduced measures and programs to ensure the health and wellbeing of our employees, while making sure they could stay connected from their homes, so ensuring business continuity for our customers. Those based on customer premises, such as at airports, were given the guidance and equipment needed to stay healthy and minimize risk.
We responded to a shift in industry needs for a healthy and safe passenger journey, with portfolio developments for contactless and mobile-driven journeys, and the sharing of health data. To support industry recovery, we also introduced next generation platform capabilities, including cloud, to meet our customers’ requirements for agility and cost-effectiveness.
Achievements in 2020
We still made sound progress during 2020. On the environmental front, we saw an overall emissions reduction in 2020 of 48%, some 11,423 CO2 tons, helped of course by reduced business travel due to the pandemic, but also through our focus on greener offices.
In terms of our people, SITA’s annual employee survey saw a score of 84% for our employees’ experience of inclusiveness at SITA, comparable to the best performing organizations worldwide. In addition, despite lockdown, we reached 98% of our learning target of 40 hours for each employee. I am also delighted to say that we achieved 24th place in the Forbes best multinational employers in 2020, out of 750 companies.
On the community front, given the pandemic, we successfully preserved our level of investment in community programs around the world. To highlight a few successes, in 2020 SITA India increased its annual funding for a range of charitable programs by over 35%, while donating to the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund for COVID-19 Support. SITA South Africa, in the meantime, was pleased to welcome 15 new learnership students. We also granted bursaries to 13 underprivileged students studying STEM-related degree programs at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
As we look ahead, SITA remains on track to achieve our goal to be carbon neutral by 2022. We will continue our focus on decarbonizing our operations, reducing our GHG emissions through our Planet+ program. I look forward to reporting further successful outcomes next year, in what we anticipate will be a healthier environment for aviation.