Sketching out a path for a sustainable future

Six of the global mobility industry’s leading associations have come together to map out a shared vision for the future sustainability of the business. FIDI Communications Manager Magali Horbert looks at progress to date, FIDI’s role in the coalition, and next steps for this forward-looking approach

As the year draws to a close, saying that 2022 was a bumpy ride would be an understatement. With multiple COVID waves, the arrival of war in Ukraine, and ongoing supply-chain bottlenecks (to name but a few of the many crises we have faced) wreaking havoc in our globalised world, 2022 was definitely not a normal year – and it looks like we won’t be returning to business as usual anytime soon. Add to this the hot topic of the climate crisis and you could be excused for rolling your eyes and thinking ‘give us a break!’ 

However, the environmental crisis is different, in that it is not limited in time and cannot be reversed by the decision of a select few politicians. Scientific evidence is clear: human activity is currently the main cause of climate change, and most governments and legislators across the world are taking this seriously.

For businesses in general, including our international moving industry, pressure to change has been increasing for the past year, mainly driven by customers. Now legislation is kicking in, making it mandatory for companies to prove that they are sustainable – and this change will be permanent. So, even if you don’t believe in the climate emergency, you should take sustainability seriously; the survival of your business might just depend on it.

Defining a Global Mobility roadmap for sustainability

FIDI has been looking into what sustainability means for international moving and relocation, how it will impact our members, and what we – as an association and an industry – should be doing. The momentum has been growing over the past 18 months, with an increasing number of clients requesting sustainability credentials from their suppliers, and a host of providers offering a varied range of solutions to ‘go green’.

The first realisation was that this topic is too big and complex for a single company, or even a single association, to tackle. At the very first sustainability roundtable, held at the FIDI Conference in Cannes in April 2022, we invited association leaders, RMCs and corporate clients to discuss how we could tackle this sustainability issue together.

As an immediate result, six leading associations representing the main sectors of the global mobility industry – FIDI, IAM, EuRA, WERC, CERC and CHPA – came together to form a Global Mobility coalition for sustainability. As a first action point, the associations decided to draft our industry’s sustainability roadmap.

With the expert guidance of Deloitte’s sustainability and global mobility team, a group of dedicated and knowledgeable individuals from across the sector set about identifying:

  • What sustainability means and the challenges it represents for each sector individually and our industry as a whole
  • How we can and should coordinate our efforts towards common goals
  • What needs to be done to create a common framework of real, impactful and measurable action.

The roadmap will be used by the participating associations to identify individual and common action points, and to coordinate our efforts in an impactful way.

As we wait for the final roadmap to be released and shared with all our associations’ members at the beginning of the new year, here are some headline findings:

Cross-sector education and awareness are fundamental

Sustainability is an extremely complex and far-reaching topic, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Bringing it all home and making it relevant to our day-to-day business is key, to generate an understanding of how it will affect our companies and industry, and what we – as companies, as an association and as an industry – can do to work towards meaningful and measurable impact.

Education across sectors is essential too. Global mobility is characterised by an international, diverse and interconnected supply chain, and it is important to understand how each sector’s actions impact on the supply chain, up and downstream. As an example, corporate clients need to understand exactly what goes into an international relocation – in turn to understand how changing towards more sustainable processes will impact their suppliers.

1. What is FIDI doing?

The first step to defining what we need to do to ‘be more sustainable’ is to understand what this means in real terms. FIDI, with the help of Affiliates from around the world engaged with sustainability at different levels in their companies, had already set out to define what being an environmentally sustainable mover actually looks like. The result of this exercise was the publication of two reports at the beginning of 2022: How to become environmentally sustainable in the moving business, and Moving to 2030: the Sustainable Development Goals and the International Moving Industry. The purpose of these reports is to serve as very simple, practical guidelines that any moving company across the world can apply in their day-to-day business. Both reports are publicly available for download on the FIDI website.

Furthermore, the FIDI Academy is running a comprehensive online course on corporate sustainability, available free of charge for all FIDI Affiliates. This very detailed course covers all aspects of sustainability, what it means for the moving business, and how a company can develop a sustainability strategy adapted to its context and needs. Sustainability features will also be integrated into existing FIDI Academy seminars and online learnings going forward.

FIDI will continue to drive education and awareness among our membership over the coming months, focusing on sharing best practices and practical guidelines.

2. We need a structured, common plan

As corporate sustainability is gaining momentum, companies across the world are scrambling to comply with the increasing volume of requirements and new legislation. The lack of a common plan and reference framework has created a fragmented environment where efforts (and costs) are duplicated, mistakes are made, and unreasonable, one-size-fits-all requirements are pushed down on suppliers operating in very diverse realities.

FIDI, with the support of its Affiliates, partners and external specialists, is in the process of understanding how to develop a common framework for its membership and the international moving industry as a whole, with regards to, for example, carbon footprint measurements, certifications and reporting. This, of course, can only be done with the input of as many of our Affiliates as possible, and we welcome any thoughts and suggestions.

3. We’re in this together: close cooperation across the entire global mobility ecosystem is key

Our industry is not known for close cooperation between stakeholders, including our many industry associations. However, when it comes to the topic of sustainability, everybody agrees that ‘we are in this together’ and that only coordinated efforts – and shared responsibilities – will lead to real impact. The sustainability coalition is a first and powerful example of associations across the supply chain working together, effectively, towards a common goal. Collaboration is a key word in the sustainability conversation and will be the common thread guiding our future actions.

We believe that sustainability in its broadest sense – from an environmental, social and business point of view – will drive far-reaching change in our world. And we believe that this change will be highly beneficial for our Affiliates, for FIDI and our industry – if we coordinate our actions and work together in search of meaningful impact.

In the spirit of constructive collaboration, we invite you to be part of this exciting journey.  

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