"Good progress in all corporate responsibility programs"
An interview with Rainer Wend, Executive Vice President Corporate Public Policy and Responsibility, upon the publication of the 2010 Sustainability Report on May 23, 2011.
Mr. Wend, what distinguishes the 2010 Sustainability Report?
Rainer Wend: The report illustrates our wide-ranging initiatives we undertake to engage for environmental protection, education and society. The report shows that we have made progress in all areas. We can see, for example, that our investments in new aircraft and vehicles are having a positive effect on our carbon footprint and that more and more of our customers are embracing our GOGREEN service.
Can you name a few specific results?
Rainer Wend: We continued to improve our carbon efficiency last year and reached our own interim target - a CO2-Efficiency improvement of our own activities of 10 percent by 2012 - a year ahead of the deadline. For this progress and for our sustainable activities in general we have been recognized in several well-known international indices. In the field of education, we started partnerships with the international nonprofit organization Teach For All and the children's charity SOS last year. In both partnerships, our key objective is to support targeted measures to help improve education and training opportunities. This is a rewarding and meaningful investment in society that, on a second level, also pays off for us as global employer.
Your programs and initiatives aren't entirely selfless then?
Rainer Wend: Our customers, employees and investors realize very quickly whether we are really committed to what we do. From the start, we have placed great value on identifying both the benefits for our company and the benefits to society and the environment. Our dedication to corporate responsibility must be an inherent part of our day-to-day work. Only then will we produce tangible results; only then can we contribute to society; and only then will we have a successful business.
A logistics company with a large fleet of aircraft and vehicles that also champions environmental causes - isn't that a contradiction?
Rainer Wend: The logistics sector is the backbone of global trade. Without its transport services, the extent of today's global economic cooperation would not be possible. At the same time, the logistics sector accounts for about 14 percent of global carbon emissions. This leads into a clear mandate for logistics companies: They must be part of the solution and must leverage their strategic importance to achieve a low-carbon global economy. This includes the use of fuel-efficient vehicles and air planes. Primarily we need to boost the development of optimized systems and innovative customer solutions that support efficient and thus environmentally friendly transportation services.
What precisely do you do to protect the environment?
Rainer Wend: We offer GOGREEN services, including for example CO2-reports and offsets for customers. Furthermore, we offer intermodal transport solutions by air, street, rail and water which can improve CO2-emissions by up to 40 percent. With our GOGREEN shipment service our customers can use a carbon-neutral transportation option. Emissions are offset through recognized external climate protection projects. And the demand for this product proves us right. Our customers are showing a growing interest in sustainable services that they can also use in their own value chains. In our study "Delivering Tomorrow," for example, about 57 percent of our business customers indicated that they would choose an environmentally friendly logistics firm over a cheaper competitor. But we're also keeping a close eye on our own operations: Our carbon accounting and controlling program offers enhanced transparency and allows us to monitor specific savings across our Group. We can precisely track where we are consuming too much energy or fuel and implement concrete countermeasures such as route planning or driver training.
Aside from environmental protection, your sustainability strategy also comprises disaster management - what is the status here?
Rainer Wend: Our Disaster Response Teams were deployed four times last year when natural disasters hit. Our experience in Pakistan, in particular, highlighted the importance of our assistance. Our Disaster Response Teams spent a total of three weeks at local airports preparing incoming relief goods for distribution throughout the country. Our partnership with the United Nations works very well and we cooperate on a reliable basis. This shows us that leveraging our core logistics skills is indeed the right approach.
The motivation for your engagement in education is less obvious. Why as a logistics firm do you promote education programs?
Rainer Wend: Building on our partnerships with Teach For All and the SOS Children's Villages, we are currently expanding our commitment to fair opportunities in education. I believe that education is the key to both an individual's and society's progress. For a global employer with nearly half a million employees, a commitment to improved access to education is an obvious choice.
In your view, what is the most important result of this year's report?
Rainer Wend: Obviously, the early accomplishment of our CO2-efficiency target is a highlight and makes me proud. This achievement is recognition of all the efforts over the past years and at the same time an incentive for the future. Furthermore, I am particularly glad to see that many of our employees are proud to work for our company and are active as volunteers. This applies just as much to our Disaster Response Teams as to the many people who voluntarily invest part of their free time in local community projects. They breathe life into the sustainability strategy we call "Living Responsibility."