One World Governance: Travel, Hospitality and the Food Supply Industries - Part 7
“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness
And his chambers by injustice, Who uses his neighbour’s service without wages
And gives him nothing for his work, 14 Who says, ‘I will build myself a wide house with spacious chambers, And cut out windows for it, Panelling it with cedar And painting it with vermilion.’ Jeremiah 22:13-14
20 "For the tyrant shall be no more, and the scoffer shall cease to be; all those alert to do evil shall be cut off—21 those who cause a person to lose a lawsuit, who set a trap for the arbiter in the gate, and without grounds deny justice to the one in the right". Isaiah 29:20-21
The unprecedented crisis has impacted the travel sector greatly, globally creating the worst economic and social crisis. The huge impact on tourism was a result of travel restrictions as well as slump in demand among travellers, though other sectors in the public and private sector were in lockdown, people were given the opportunity to work from home. The International Air Transport Association says demand for air travel will not recover until 2023 at the earliest.
For over a decade the World Economic Forum engaged leaders in travel and tourism to carry out an in-depth analysis of the travel and tourism (T&T) competitiveness. Published biennially, Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report and Index benchmarks the T&T competitiveness of 140 economies and measures the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the Travel & Tourism (T&T) sector, which in turn, contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country.
The World Economic Forum also publishes The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report every two years. The report measures “the set of factors and policies that enable the sustainable development of the travel and tourism sector, which in turn, contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country.”
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) represents the global private sector of Travel & Tourism and organises a global summit each year, usually held in April, with a regional summit held sometime in the third quarter. Over the last few years these have included Heads of State, over 50 Government Ministers, 600 Chairs and Chief Executives, and well over 500 members of the global media. Summit attendance is by invitation only. Over 100+ federal, regional and city governments attend these summits that includes a “Platform for Governments to Engage”.
On 14 August 2020, WTTC and 120 of the world’s major travel and global business leaders signed a letter to the G7 (Germany, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, UK and U.S) and three other countries (Australia, South Korea and Spain), called on the Heads of State and international opposition leaders of the G7* group of countries, as well as Australia, South Korea and Spain, as the biggest source markets in Travel & Tourism “for strong leadership and unprecedented international collaboration”.
The letter pinpoints four measures that will require “concerted international framework” to tackle the Covid-19 crisis:
1. Wearing a mask
2. Testing and contact tracing
3. Quarantine for positive tests only
4. Reinforcing global protocols and standardise measures
In September, WTTC was tasked with finding a plan, G20's Public & Private Sector Recovery Plan, to restart international travel, recover 100 million jobs, find ways to stimulate the recovery of the sector with public-private collaboration and to provide “certainty for the travellers in regard to travel restrictions and policies to facilitate domestic and international travel”.
The plan was unveiled in October at the WTTC summit with the G20 Tourism Ministers and more than 45 CEOs and WTTC Members under the leadership of Saudi Arabia and its Presidency of the G20 the global Travel and Tourism.
To inform public sector decision-making, WTTC continues to produce robust research, insightful thought-leadership reports, from crisis readiness to Destination 2030, as well as quantifiable best practices ranging from security, workforce development and the promotion of destinations to sustainability, destination stewardship and infrastructure. In addition to the reports featuring highlights of best practices, the full repository is readily available.
World Travel & Tourism Council chose Seville (Spain) to celebrate its Global Summit 2019 on the 3rd and 4th of April 3. The city was the epicentre of world tourism bringing together outstanding speakers such as Barack Obama, Pedro Sanchez (President of the Government of Spain), as well as several CEO's of large tourist accommodation companies, tour operators, customs and airports, etc.
With an extensive and comprehensive agenda over two days, various aspects of the tourism sector were discussed, such as current and future growth, sustainability, the impact of technology and the profile of travellers, among many other topics.
At the 2019 summit in Seville, Spain, it was announced that the companies that form part of the WTTC will invest 3,000 million euros in Spain, especially in the hotel, aviation, technology and shopping segments. All this was accompanied by the different visions for Spain from other markets, such as the Chinese and British, and sharing experience on how the demand and offer grows in Spanish destinations that do not have spectacular beaches.
While all sectors of the world's economy are affected by the coronavirus outbreak, the hotel, leisure, retail and travel industries have been hit particularly hard.
As the outbreak took hold, the air travel market lost nearly 40 per cent of its travellers worldwide according to Olivier Jager of travel analysts ForwardKeys. "There was a reduction in air travel by 50 per cent in Asia (including 63 per cent in North East Asia), 36 per cent in Europe, 30 per cent in Africa and the Middle East and 26 per cent in the US. Taking account of cancellations the number of international flights booked worldwide had dropped by 80 per cent during the week of 16 March 2020," he said.
The travel, tourism and hospitality industry has been decimated by the impact of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. In response to the catastrophic impact to their business hotel owners have this week launched 10,000 Letter Campaign to Save America’s Hotels
Travel and Climate Change
Passenger numbers at the UK’s largest airport fell by 97% in April, prompting hundreds of job losses and fears of many more to follow. But some environmentalists and United Nations argue that “don't use taxpayer money to save polluting industries” such airlines should not be rescued. This is echoed by Extinction Rebellion. “With 90% of UK planes grounded, and knowing we need to halt polluting industries, there can be no justification for the government to financially support restarting flights. Let’s embed this change rather than bail out this destructive industry and its tax-avoiding owners,” the group’s UK spokesperson, Sarah Lunnon, said.
Other climate campaign organisations, including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, say bailouts are only acceptable if they come with green conditions
Andrew Murphy, an aviation policy officer at the NGO Transport & Environment, said this could be a turning point after decades of inaction.
“Before the Covid crisis, aviation emissions were going in the wrong direction. This is a moment that has shaken up the industry and raised questions about subsidies, tax breaks, and frequent flying. It is an opportunity for governments to think how they support the airline industry.”
He said he was also encouraged the UK has not yet committed public funds to bail out airlines; a more important step, he said, would be for government to include aviation emissions in their climate targets. “It’s not sexy, but it’s very important,” he said.
The Guardian reported that as the international communities were forced to address failing sectors through bailouts, leaders “condemn backing of global sectors that disregard green economy goals”. Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president for the Green Deal at the European commission, said: “[Tackling the Covid-19 emergency] cannot and will not throw us off course in our efforts to tackle the climate crisis that still looms large as one of humanity’s most daunting challenges.”
“Bailouts should all be linked with clear conditions that the money will be used for a green economy and a green society. The very least that should be done is to ascertain that none of our commitments are used to harm our climate goals.”
French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, said Air France would have to become “the greenest airline in the world” in return for a €7bn bailout. This meant reducing the carbon intensity of their overall operations by 50% by 2030, cutting absolute emissions within France by half by 2030, using 2% renewable jet fuel by 2024 and drastically reducing the number of flights of less than 2hr 30mins duration that compete with rail services.
Speaking at the Global Sustainable Aviation Forum, industry leaders reiterated that long-term climate action should be a priority alongside economic recovery in the coming years.
“Our sector has a long-term climate change goal to cut CO2 emissions in half by 2050,” said Executive Director of the cross-industry Air Transport Action Group, Michael Gill. “With the right help from governments, the energy sector and technologists, we expect that global aviation will be able to hit net zero emissions a decade or so later. Some parts of the world will be able to meet this point earlier and a number of individual companies have already set goals along these lines. To achieve this will require a transition in our energy source from fossil fuel to sustainable aviation fuel, the acceleration of research, and development of electric, hybrid and potentially hydrogen aircraft. It will also require a commitment to collaboration going even beyond our current levels. We have the next decade to set the scene for sustainable global connectivity for the next 30-40 years.”
In 2013, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations body that lays down standards for airlines, set new requirements for fuel efficiency and carbon emissions. Three years later, the ICAO adopted the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation.
Food Supply, Hospitality and Big Businesses
According to the UN, most global trade is controlled by a few hundred corporations. Many of these mega-corporations are economically larger than some nations and thus it is difficult for developing countries to regulate them. Since the United State is home to many of the world's largest TNCs, stronger regulation in the US is key in enforcing international standards that promote the social and economic rights of those in developing countries. One of the steps towards controlling TNCs is for the United States to ratify UN and ILO conventions that promulgate labor rights and consumer protection.
The United Nations defines transnational corporations as firms that control assets in two or more countries.
The pandemic has affected the global food-industry as authorities close down restaurants and bars to slow the spread of the virus. Across the world, restaurants' daily traffic dropped precipitously compared to the same period in 2019. Closures of restaurants caused a ripple-effect among related industries such as food production, liquor, wine, and beer-production, food and beverage shipping, fishing, and farming. Food security is a term that was, until recently, used only in developing countries.
But many small sectors part of the tourism and hospitality industries such as bed and breakfast, hostels, pubs and clubs, cafés, restaurants, bistros and beach bars to name a few, being small family businesses are very likely to live the crisis much worse, they have been also heavily affected by the change in the supply chain.
The issues were also particularly disruptive in industrialized areas where large proportions of entire categories of food are typically imported using just-in-time logistics. The partial rather than full closings of restaurants meant that the closings failed to trigger business interruption insurance for many restaurants; other policies had clauses excluding coverage in the case of epidemics, action by civil authority, or requiring restaurants to have physical damage to property. Many employees were laid off, and more employees lacked sick leave in the sector compared to similar sectors. The New York Times characterized the closures as affecting "all strata of the industry, from the owners and their celebrity chefs to the waiters and waitresses, bar-backs and busboys, who effectively are facing layoffs and may be unable to pay their rent.” Smaller producers who supply high-end restaurants in big cities with premium goods have taken a huge hit during the shutdowns.
In a world of globalised industry, where many States’ policy has increasingly been dictated, through lobbing, by private sector interests and transnational corporations, the coronavirus pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of the highly concentrated food supply chains, which is not surprising when reading this report by Agropoly in 2013, published by EcoNexus.
EcoNexus provides summaries the findings of the report:
“In just 18 pages, Agropoly shows how a handful of companies have come to dominate the agro-industries for:
animal feed production: one third of agricultural land goes to produce animal feed;
livestock breeding: in chicken breeding, for example, the top 4 companies have 99% market share of the genetics;
seed production: the top 10 seed corporations have a 75% market share of the commercial market;
commodity production, processing, trade and retail: the revenues of the three biggest supermarket corporations are larger than the GNP of many states;
fertiliser and pesticide manufacture: the latter also controlled by seed corporations.
"One result is that many local breeds and food crop varieties have already been lost to us and the decline continues. This consolidation is relentless, with governments shaping policies to suit corporations and their investors, not citizens. Agropoly highlights the pressing need to act now, working with peasant farmers and small-scale food providers to develop inclusive and just food regimes that provide nutritious food for all."
Coronavirus is forcing us to rethink our approach to agricultural production, but it has also highlighted, especially in the US, the consolidating power of meat suppliers. The largest meatpackers in the U.S., controlling more than 80% of beef processing, Tyson Foods Inc. (which owns Pilgrim’s Pride), Cargill Inc., JBS SA, and National Beef Inc., known as the “Big Four”—were subpoenaed by the U.S Department of Justice (DOJ) on allegations of antitrust violations earlier in June for price-fixing during the pandemic.
There are similar cases involving pork and turkey producers as well as “a major case involving beef brought by feeders that proceeds on a different theory of how those packers coordinated to reduce prices paid to feeders,” Carstensen said.
As coronavirus started to spread across the country in March, meat sales rose as consumers stockpiled, but that boost that did not translate into higher cattle prices for farmers. Wholesale prices for processed beef jumped almost 20% at the start of the pandemic, while the price paid to ranchers dropped 11%, according to the Food & Environment Reporting Network's Ag Insider.
Again, in the US a federal judge filed a big warning in June, by giving Bumble Bee Food's former chief executive a rare prison sentence for his role in an antitrust conspiracy to fix the price of canned tuna. Like the agro-industries, poultry, seafood, and so on. Big businesses are controlling the world’s food supply and are not averse to manipulating the market and profiting greatly even in a crisis. There is little that is more essential to life than agricultural production.
Corporations have a vested interest in keeping the food system profitable above all, and they are powerful enough to shape policies that keep it that way. When corporate influence shapes policy, their profits come ahead of people’s interests. It isn’t just the food supply industry, but other sectors like education, technology, media, and are allowed to operate the same by globalising and consolidating power, which is why it is not difficult to imagine how future one global governance will be formed. The transnational corporations are just another way of controlling the supplies and Covid-19 has accelerated this process of control as businesses, from all sectors, suffer closures and bankruptcies. Businesses with a niche in the market or those that are threat are bought out, they literally buy the competition.
The Future is Technological and Big Businesses
The emerging shapes of the new world of work in the Fourth Industrial Revolution are rapidly becoming a lived reality for millions of workers and companies around the world. The big elephant in the room is rise of robots that is normally associated with factories and automation.
CNN previously reported that grocers - big and small chains alike - are turning to robots for performing various tasks like cleaning floors, stocking shelves, and delivering groceries to shoppers. The CV crisis could even prompt online retail warehouses like Amazon to invest more into automation technology as well.
Walmart also isn't the first business to discuss using automation. Last year international fast-food chain McDonald's reported they would begin employing automated fryer robots throughout their different branches across the world. With Covid as a catalyst to speed up the deployment of automated machines, we can probably safely say that the use of robots will increase. A recent MarketWatch article written by Johannes Moenius, a professor of global business and the director of the Institute for Spatial Economic Analysis at the University of Redlands, stated "at least 50 million jobs could be automated in just essential industries."
The World Health Organization has widely supported the actions by governments to tap technology companies to unleash mass surveillance programs to fight the virus.
On July 9th, The Commons Project, The World Economic Forum and The Rockefeller Foundation convened more than 350 public and private sector leaders from 52 countries to come together to design a common framework for safe border reopening.
The Commons Project Foundation and the World Economic Forum announced the launching of international trials for CommonPass, a digital health pass for travellers to securely verify their COVID-19 test status.
The goal of the trials is to replicate the full traveller experience of taking a test for COVID-19 prior to departure, uploading the result to their phones, and demonstrating their compliance with entry requirements at departure and destination airports.
The purpose of CommonPass and the CommonPass Framework is to enable safer airline and cross border travel stated these organizations in a press release published on October 7, 2020.
The idea of a digital immunity passport or certificate also raises security and privacy concerns, not dissimilar to those around contact tracing apps. And, the system raises the spectre of a two-tier society, with those thought to be immune carrying on with life as normal while the rest remain in various states of lockdown. In the UK, a leaked memo has revealed that “Digital immunity passports part of government’s plans to ramp up testing”. Travel firms and airports, governments, policy think-tanks, and the digital identity industry are the ones that are hyping the immunity passport 'solution'.
According to Privacy International, immunity passports are “dangerous” and risk excluding vulnerable groups and misuse of data, or mission creep.
The privacy charity said there is no scientific basis for digital immunity passports, adding: “The social risks of immunity passports are great: it serves as a route to discrimination and exclusion, particularly if the powers to view these passports falls on people’s employers, or the police”.
“This is yet another example of a crisis-response that depends on technology, as we saw with contact-tracing apps. And it is also yet another instance of trying to rapidly respond to complex problems, as governments did after 9/11, by reaching for identity systems….First, the proponents of digital identity as the solution to any problem you care to mention. The Executive Director of ID2020 in a paper entitled "Immunity Certificates: If We Must Have Them, We Must Do It Right", wrote: "With the deployment of immunity certificates systems becoming increasingly likely, we believe there is significant value to proactively exploring the concept and ensuring that adequate safeguards, both technical and regulatory, are implemented should such programs move forward." ID2020 is an alliance of organisations pushing for digital identity - including businesses like Microsoft and biometrics companies, as well as other actors like Accenture, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the vaccine alliance Gavi…...
The looming disaster of immunity passports and digital identity - Privacy International
Wired reported that “Plenty of tech firms have leapt into the fray to offer digital versions, and Estonia is trialling a system called ImmunityPassport developed by a group called Back to Work, led by Transferwise founder Taavet Hinrikus. As the country loosened its lockdown, it sought tools to aid that process, especially for employers to know their staff had been tested. Estonia already has digital identities for all of its citizens, so the project was linked to that system. “The idea was they could act on data, rather than guessing about symptoms,” says Harsh Sinha, the CTO of Transferwise who also worked on the project.”
Technologies that may have once seemed like science fiction few years ago, thermal facial recognition, remote fever detection, smartphone-based immunity certificates—are now not only possible but also already in use to fight Covid-19. There are is also the introduction of facial recognition firms providing businesses with contactless entry for their workers and CCTV surveillance for social distancing in the UK sparked concern among councillors.