Unless you’ve been hidden under a rock (or on a well-deserved email and webinar hiatus), you’ve probably heard the words “Vancouver Manifesto” in recent weeks. This 3 part blog aims to give a little more insight into the 3 action points identified in this Manifesto.
The Action Points
- Social Responsibility | Sustainability
- Culture | Relationships | Teamwork
- Economic Growth | Innovation
But what is the Vancouver Manifesto? And what does this mean to me and my business?
Two years ago, SITE set out on a journey to understand the nature, purpose and direction of incentive travel. The results of the first leg of that journey became the Bangkok Manifesto — a “big think” that shared “What’s next?” in 10 aspirational statements. The second leg of that journey moved from the broad ideas of the Bangkok Manifesto to deliver actionable approaches for every part of the industry. This is the Vancouver Manifesto.
The Bangkok Manifesto was aspiration. The Vancouver Manifesto is action.
This post will look at a case study for the Vancouver Manifesto’s first focus – Social Responsibility and Sustainability.
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY | SUSTAINABILITY
“Every stakeholder in the incentive travel community should embrace social responsibility as a core part of their business philosophy and commit to responsible and sustainable development goals such as the payment of a fair wage, workplace equality and inclusivity, anti- trafficking and the protection of our world’s natural environment.”
Sustainability is sometimes thought of purely in an environmental capacity, but it is so much more than this. The 3 pillars of sustainability are economic, environmental, and social, with the overarching aim to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.
SITE asked Benoit Sauvage, CEO of Connect DMC what this Sustainability and Social Responsibility focus of the Vancouver Manifesto means to him and his company.
“We look at sustainability as an enduring and balanced approach to social progress, environmental responsibility and academic activity.”Ben Sauvage, CEO of Connect DMC, Director in the SITE International Board of Directors 2020-2023
Below he talks to us about how Social Responsibility has impacted his company, clients, and destination.
The Impact of CSR
by Ben Sauvage
It is 6:30 P.M. in the Dominican Republic. I am seated on a rock, overlooking the sunset on top of the Anamuya Mountain in the Vista Alegre community. Vista Alegre is just 20 minutes away from the breathtaking, white powder sand and crystal-clear beaches of Punta Cana, but is a faraway dream for so many of the inhabitants of this rural underprivileged community.
After the passage of Hurricane Irma, we along with our client, shared a vision to transform a neglected and damaged rural school into a stimulating new learning center for 85 children.
As I lift up my head, I see in the blushing sun, the main teacher approaching and giving me an old class book as a present. She tells me how this book was the first she could ever afford and how, during all of her youth in this same community, she couldn’t go to school at the same time as her brother. Since they had to use the same shoes and uniform he went in the morning and she went in the afternoon. They switched clothes at lunch in order for both of them to attend school and get a better education.
We both looked at the new “Vista Alegre” school where, thanks to the generous donations of our client and their group participants over the course of 3 months, we could build a hurricane-proof roof, bookshelves, benches, school tables, fans, restrooms and a full playground. We also planted trees and grass surrounding the property and closed it in with a new painted fence and gravel. Most important of all was the installation of Internet and electricity so the children could have access to new technologies and discover the world!
Over 200 volunteers worked together with the children on the final touches and donated amazing books, back packs, dental kits, uniforms, shoes and even bicycles for those who live remotely and have to walk a couple of hours to get to school every day.
Sitting here on this rock, looking at this accomplishment and its meaning for this amazing school and community, I realize the important role of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the Incentive Travel industry. Giving just a little bit of time, we created a lasting legacy that has transformed the lives of the community and also inspired teamwork and collaboration.
Since our experience with Vista Alegre, we have provided support to several rural schools, orphanages and baseball grounds, impacting group participants’ experiences and involving local communities to work together towards a better sustainable education. Conscious of the long-lasting importance of the accomplished work, we also train our communities to continue to manage these new resources.
In 2016 the United Nations developed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to transform our world that embrace a wide variety of subjects:
By embracing these goals, CSR actions create a bridge between travelers and the local communities. Our company has embraced SDG goals N#4, N#10 and N#11 to work on interaction and integration by providing a better and sustainable education and a better life for the underprivileged.
Each of the above SDGs is of equal importance – you might relate more to a certain one than another. On a personal and organizational level, and for a better future for the generations to come, start by choosing just one and start applying it in your organization and household.
And remember, any action towards sustainability is a positive action – each little step counts to change the world!
About Ben Sauvage:
Ben Sauvage, DMCP, CMP, CIS is the founder and CEO of Connect DMC, a leading Destination Management Company in the Dominican Republic and Mexico.
Ben brings 25 years of experience in delivering high end and complex services as a destination expert to worldwide clients and has a passion for creativity, attention to detail and sustainable practices.
- Director in the SITE International Board of Directors 2020-2023
- President of the SITE Florida & Caribbean Chapter 2019
- Member of the SITE and EIC Sustainability Committees
- EIC Sustainable Event Professional Certify
- Winner of a SITE Global Member of the Year Award
- Winner of an Imex Green Award
- Winner of the AMDEI CSR Award
- International speaker on Sustainability and Cultural Diversities
SITE intends to incorporate many of the key actions into its strategic plans for the coming year and beyond, publishing tools, insights, resources and case studies on the Manifesto themes that can help all stakeholders in the SITE community with their own action-planning, brainstorming about the future, and experimentation.
For more information, you can download the Vancouver Manifesto here.