UK tour operator, easyJet holidays and the University of Oxford announced today they are partnering to establish the Oxford SDG Impact Lab. The two will work together to identify challenges and opportunities for sustainable tourism. This will help easyJet holidays pursue its aim to be an industry leader in sustainable tourism that has a positive impact on the environment and local communities.
The holidays company recently launched its sustainability strategy, aligned with the sustainable development goals (SDG) of the United Nations. It has now become the industry partner at the Oxford SDG Impact Lab, where selected students will be mentored and trained to deliver academically rigorous, evidence-based reports whose aim is to improve key areas of social and environmental development in a number of destinations where easyJet holidays operates.
The Oxford SDG Impact Lab will be made up of 20 graduate students, mainly from the social sciences and humanities, and will get underway in January 2022. Students will identify challenges and opportunities to develop sustainable tourism in the focus destinations, supported and mentored by Oxford University staff, as well as a dedicated team of experts from easyJet holidays.
The students will employ a range of research methods to develop a proposal for their destination that advances at least one of the SDGs. The program will include a four week research trip to destinations across Europe in the summer of 2022, to help develop proposals. Throughout the program, easyJet holidays will support students, providing industry and business knowledge to help shape their proposals.
The program will culminate in September 2022, when the students will deliver their recommendation reports. easyJet holidays will then decide which projects it will champion, to develop and support sustainable practices in its focus holiday destinations. At the end of the program, easyJet holidays may ask one of the students to join the organization to pilot one or more of the proposed projects.
Matt Callaghan, easyJet holidays Director of Customer & Operations, said:
“We only launched easyJet holidays in 2019 but we were always clear that when it comes to sustainability we want to lead the industry and we want to integrate sustainability into every aspect of our business, because, now more than ever, purpose beyond profit is essential.
“Which is why we’re so pleased to be working with the University of Oxford, combining our deep industry expertise with some of the brightest minds in the country, to help us identify where we can have a real impact and make meaningful change on the people and places that make our destinations so special.
“This is the first partnership of its kind and we’re really excited for the program to get underway. We’ll be part of it at each and every step to provide our support and expertise, and we look forward to seeing the recommendations from the SDG Impact Lab students on what we can do to deliver on our commitment to providing holidays that don’t cost the earth.”
Professor Alexander Betts, who is Co-Founder of the SDG Impact Lab, and responsible for graduate training across the social sciences at the University of Oxford said:
“We are delighted to be able to partner with easyJet holidays to launch the new SDG Impact Lab. It will offer our brilliant graduate students a unique opportunity to acquire practical skills and apply their talents to advance the UN sustainable development goals. The Lab represents a leap forward in our ability to support experiential learning and enable our students to change the world for the better.
“It’s important that our students can complement their academic studies with the acquisition of transferrable skills in areas such as leadership and project management. They need to be able to work within interdisciplinary teams and collaborate with business, government, and third sector organization. The combination of a 16-weeks skills training program with a field-based research internship makes this a pioneering step-forwards in how we deliver graduate education.”
Earlier this year easyJet holidays launched its inaugural sustainability strategy and became the first major UK tour operator to offset the carbon emissions directly associated from its package holidays, comprising the fuel used for flights and in-destination transfers, as well as the energy used from hotel stays. The new strategy focuses on three core pillars – create better holiday choices which is about making sustainable travel affordable and accessible to everyone; keep our holidays special which is maximizing the benefits and minimizing the negative impacts of travel and tourism including a commitment to support hotels it works with to achieve certification by a GSTC accredited certification body or certification to a GSTC recognized standard, and transform travel for everyone which means embedding sustainability into business decisions and behaviors and driving meaningful change in the industry.