WUR has won this year’s Sustainable Business Travel Award. The Dutch Association for Travel Management (NATM) presented the award to Rolf Heling, Travel Contract Manager and Location Manager. WUR was nominated by other organisations because of the changes we have made to increase sustainability in our travel policy, in particular encouraging business travel by train instead of by plane.
Sustainable business travel
WUR and two other organisations were the finalists from the short list of nominees. In the end, after a public vote on the anonymised three remaining candidates, 59% of the votes went to WUR. The jury’s response: “The thorough approach at WUR confirms to the jury that sustainable business travel can best be developed with broad support within an organisation”, said Odete Pimenta da Silva, jury chair and managing director of NATM.
Rolf is happy and proud to receive this award. “We have a continuous focus on sustainability at WUR. Our ‘sustainable mobility’ project group, which includes delegates from staff departments such as HRM, Purchasing, and Safety & Environment, focuses on making mobility sustainable in the broadest sense of the word. Last year, among other things, we adjusted our travel policy to increase the focus on using video conferencing and international trains. I see this award not so much as an appreciation for my own work, but above all as a stimulus for the working method we use in the organisation to make it more sustainable.”
WUR mobility policy
The mobility policy focuses on reducing transport movements and making transport more sustainable. The ambition is to reduce CO2 emissions related to all WUR transport by at least 2% each year. Programmes resulting from the policy include e-bike trial weeks for commuting, promoting public transport, discouraging air travel to destinations that can be reached by train within six hours and introducing electric service cars via the MaaS (mobility as a service) project.
The difficulty of making air travel sustainable was also illustrated in a recent report on flying by The Young Academy, which drew attention to that issue. The report stated that WUR has the best sustainability policy and is a leader in the field of mobility. In general terms, however, they concluded that the mobility-related measures taken by Dutch universities have so far been rather non-binding and therefore ineffective.
The future and consequences of coronavirus
Rolf Heling: “The low-hanging fruit has already been picked at WUR. Further steps will have to be taken to reduce the number of travel movements and make those that remain necessary more sustainable. As a result of the coronavirus crisis, we have become more familiar with online meetings and events. This could contribute to a further reduction in the number of (flight) kilometres and the number of commuting kilometres. We launched several things, such as the WUR travel check, just before the coronavirus outbreak and they have naturally faded a bit into the background. In 2021 and beyond, it will have to become clear what effect the coronavirus-related developments, among others, will have, and what next steps WUR can take to make mobility even more sustainable.”