The Greater Good
Tourism has significant generative power, with millions of livelihoods worldwide depending on the restart of tourism for recovery and growth. Crisis provides an opportunity to rediscover purpose and reinforce the values on which Banyan Tree Group was founded 27 years ago. This is our 16th year of sustainability reporting, and the last in our current materiality cycle. As we reflect on our progress, we are beginning to chart a new path that addresses ongoing and emergent challenges, and creates a purposeful, sustained and resilient recovery generating shared value for people and the planet.
Banyan Tree Group was founded with the core value of sustainable development and champions our ethos of “Embracing the Environment, Empowering People”. A balanced and purposeful business approach extends beyond the precautionary principle to harmonise operations with natural and cultural heritage, and cultivate enduring stakeholder partnerships. We conceptualise our values in our “Stay for Good” framework, which integrates responsible stewardship throughout operations and guest experience to:
- Create exceptional design-led experiences for guests and customers;
- Provide fair and dignified employment;
- Enable long-term prosperity for communities in which we operate;
- Exercise the precautionary approach to protect and remediate ecosystems;
- Conduct business with dignity, fairness and transparency; and
- Generate sustained, long-term returns for our shareholders.
A balanced and purposeful business approach extends beyond the precautionary principle to harmonise operations with natural and cultural heritage, and cultivate enduring stakeholder partnerships.
Disruption to livelihoods and business instigated a new materiality assessment in 2021 to ensure we address the most current and pressing impacts to stakeholders from our business. The current report is the last for the old materiality cycle and presents progress since 2017. We are developing new strategies and targets in 2022, inclusive of external stakeholder concerns, and aligned with existing and emerging frameworks including new Singapore Exchange (SGX) guidelines.
The Board of Directors manage long-term sustainable value creation for all stakeholders. Sustainability remains core to our corporate purpose and the Board of Directors consider sustainability issues as part of the company’s strategic formulation, approving selection of material Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors and providing oversight and input on the progress of performance against set targets.
Our efforts are supported by our sustainable financing mechanism, the Green Imperative Fund, managed by Banyan Tree Global Foundation (BTGF) to support external beneficiaries. BTGF established the China Enterprise Environment and Community Fund in collaboration with China Environmental Protection Foundation (CEPF) to support environmental and community initiatives in China from 2021 onwards. We align our efforts with global frameworks, while addressing needs at local scales to support people, planet, peace, prosperity and partnership.
Sustainable operations are benchmarked and third-party audited by EarthCheck, with 38 sectors including 30 hotels registered in 2021. Group total energy use and Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions increased compared to 2020, due to resuming operations and new openings. Energy and emissions were both 24% lower than 2017 levels because of improvements in resource efficiency, with 453 resource conservation initiatives implemented across the Group in the past five years.
Our Greening Communities project continued to transform habitats and tackle climate action, with over 532,000 trees planted since 2007 sequestering up to 183,568 tonnes of CO2.
Following COP26 and the latest IPCC report, decarbonisation is a priority. We mapped Scope 1 and 2 emissions, conducted a group-wide equipment inventory and calculated science-based targets in 2021. In the year ahead, we will develop a TCFD-aligned risk assessment under multiple climate scenarios to map risk and opportunity, establish targets and develop a decarbonisation roadmap.
In 2021, total water use rose by 9%, although water conservation initiatives saved 329 million litres of water, and the Group used 541 million litres (12% of total use) of recycled or recaptured water. Group waste production declined by 8% due to increased recycling and prevention efforts in 2021. Single-use plastic has been reduced by 53% since 2017, despite new property openings, preventing 28.6 million pieces from going to landfill. Both water use and waste production were 16% lower than 2017 levels.
A strategic and science-based approach to conservation engages and educates travellers, local communities and our associates to develop stewardship. Since 2017, 191,737 travellers have participated in our conservation and habitat restoration programmes, with almost 12,000 citizen scientists reporting animal sightings that contribute to long-term monitoring and conservation programmes. During a time of restricted movement, recipients of our inaugural Greater Good Grants implemented projects to conserve threatened ecosystems and species in Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Our approach promotes wellbeing, diversity, satisfaction, health, and capacity development to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Pandemic-induced isolation directed our focus to stakeholder engagement, with an emphasis on associate interaction and connectivity via online learning and development to create shared purpose, connections and unity. We developed eight corporate cultures to foster purpose-based business and personal development, delivering 463,661 training hours in 2021, with almost 2.5 million training hours issued since 2017.
Guest engagement with community programmes increased four-fold in 2021 as travellers seek greater purpose with experience, and 184,959 guests and associates have participated since 2017. Our Seedlings programme, which provides mentorship and scholarship to those at risk of societal exclusion between the ages of 12 to 18, grew to 121 young persons. Since 2007, we have supported 177 Seedlings Mentees at 29 different locations worldwide, and have provided 1,611 equivalent days of mentorship over the past five years.
Sustainability governance addresses leadership, ethical compliance, cybersecurity and supply chain which, combined with our environmental and community efforts, promotes responsible travel. We incorporated climate risk and material ESG topics into our Enterprise Risk Management in 2021 as we further embed sustainability in our business decision making.
A stakeholder-inclusive approach supports our participation, collaboration and leadership locally where we operate and within the industry, as we continue to strive to go beyond the precautionary or least-harm approach, and be proactive and innovative in implementation. In our second year of the supplier Code of Conduct, we achieved our KPI with 82% of dollar purchases (US$65 million) from suppliers who completed a Code of Conduct. Reporting for the first time, our Gender Pay Gap was 5% unadjusted and 3% adjusted, with female associates earning US$0.97 for every dollar a male associate earned. A deep dive in adjusted gender pay gap allows us to identify drivers of gender salary inequality (geographic, human or business), on which we can act and manage equality in pay, which we will explore in 2022.
In the last three years we have implemented 2,004 sustainable events and initiatives, with our associates volunteering almost 100,000 hours to serve communities and environments where we operate. Increasingly, travellers are looking for greater purpose, and over the past five years we have engaged over 235,000 guests in our programmes to promote responsible travel despite the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
Please refer to the Sustainability Report 2021 for detailed information on the continual progress made in the Group’s commitment to sustainability and addressing ESG in our business operations, and our future ambitions.
HIGHLIGHTS OF OUR JOURNEY
The Board of Directors manage for long-term sustainable value creation for all stakeholders. Sustainability remains a key component of our corporate purpose; the Board of Directors consider sustainability issues as part of the company’s strategic formulation, approved the selection of the material Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors and the Group’s strategic approach to mitigating impact, and monitor progress towards set targets presented in the accompanying Sustainability Report. The Directors acknowledge ownership starts with the Board, with senior management ensuring the sustainability mission is embraced and implemented by all in the Banyan Tree family. The following highlights showcase our progress over the course of this five-year materiality cycle (or as stated if otherwise), with annual progress reported within each relevant section.