Wolfgang Will, Senior Director, South Asia, Lufthansa Group, in an interview with CSR TIMES spoke about the Group’s CSR programmes which focused on education and enabling, life and health as well as rehabilitation post natural disasters.
Lufthansa has been in India for more than five decades now, long before CSR was made mandatory by the law of the land. When was the first social responsibility initiative undertaken in India?
Lufthansa Group Airlines have been present in India for over half a century and are committed to building partnerships on strong foundations of quality, innovation and reliability. Our philosophy is being ‘More Indian than you think’. Sustainable business has been the cornerstone of our commitment globally as well as to the Indian market. We have been supporting eight projects across the country for over 15 years in partnership with Help Alliance, an initiative founded by Lufthansa employees as well as sustainable initiatives by our group airlines present in the market. We initiated our support to India in 2001 when Help Alliance partnered with Bangalore Rural Education and
Developmental Society (BREADS) to aid education and skilling of children from streets and slums of the city.
Further, Lufthansa India marketing initiatives also align with CSR. Diwalisurprise was one such project that was rolled out in 2015. This first all-digital campaign globally in partnership with Help Alliance supported children in need through Help Alliance projects in India. These include Sunshine Project in Delhi, BREADS in Bengaluru, Child Sponsoring Circle in Khandwa and Prana Project in Pondicherry.
From 2012 to 2017, Swiss International Air Lines, part of the Lufthansa Group, supported various projects of SOS Children’s Villages in Delhi. For the past two years, funds raised from SWISS passengers have been channeled for a complete refurbishment of the SOS Children’s Village Bawana.
How would you define/describe sustainability?
Lufthansa Group has a tradition of leading the industry in technology, quality as well as sustainability. Sustainable business is the basis for success at Lufthansa Group and we are
committed to act sustainably and responsibly in all areas. Our understanding of corporate responsibility does not stop at climate and environmental responsibility. It goes further to community engagement, economic sustainability, corporate governance and compliance, product responsibility as well as social responsibility reflective in our ‘comprehensive sustainability agenda‘. The agenda aims to create added value for all our stakeholders as well as meet our responsibilities toward the environment and society.
Social issues in South East Asian countries are more or less similar. Tell us about some of your common CSR programmes executed in the region.
South East Asia is a region of vast social, economic and political diversity operating in a global market environment. Yet the region is affected with similar social issues such as poverty, lack of proper education and health care facilities. In India, Lufthansa German Airlines in partnership with Help Alliance have supported the following projects:
• Aasraa Trust in Dehradun:
Help Alliance in collaboration with Aasraa Trust in 2015 set up a computer lab that helped over 170 children from the age of 5-18 years with educational opportunities such as computer courses and pre-vocational training courses.
• The Sunshine Project in Delhi:
A part of Help Alliance since 2002, the Sunshine project supports needy children from Delhi slums with education, nutrition and medical care.
• BREADS in Bangalore:
Supporting street children as well as child labour within the city by providing them with computer literacy and professional training.
• Child Sponsoring Circle in Khandwa:
Help Alliance partnered with Child Sponsoring Circle in 2004 to help provide access to education and medical help to children of poor and rural families by assisting in establishment of boarding schools and health awareness programme.
• Prana Project in Pondicherry:
Help Alliance extended its support to The Prana Project in 2011 to provide health and education support to children of distressed farmers and fishermen affected by Tsunami in 2004. The project also skills rural women from Pondicherry enabling them to be financially independent.
• The Banyan in Chennai:
Banyan has been supported by Help Alliance since 2008 with an aim to stabilize the patients with psychological disabilities and bring them back to their Families and skill them so that they can find employment. In addition to above, Lufthansa Group in collaboration with Help Alliance has aided projects in Thailand and Vietnam that support underprivileged children with disabilities. Help Alliance has enabled farmers and their children in Indonesia by imparting knowledge on natural forestation and organic farming.
Swiss International Air Lines supports the following projects:
• SOS Children’s Village in Bawana:
Earlier this year, Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) and its passengers enabled the refurbishment of 20 village houses and other facilities at SOS Children’s Village in Bawana, near Delhi.
• SOS Children’s Village in Faridabad:
Since 2015, SWISS employees are covering the annual expenses of one SOS family in Faridabad.
• Another SWISS employee project is in the SOS Children’s Village in Phuket, where the annual expenses of one family is met.
What is Lufthansa’s primary area of focus regarding CSR and who are your target groups?
“Closer to the world; closer to its people” is the guiding principle of the Lufthansa Group’s 40 initiatives all over the world bundled together under the umbrella of Help Alliance. In India, Lufthansa Group along with Help Alliance as well as its partner airlines have been providing support in a wide variety of causes such as education and training to underprivileged children and youth, enabling entrepreneurship as well as health care.
Airplanes account for about two per cent of global effluence. How do you plan to tackle it?
The Lufthansa Group’s corporate management practices are guided by values, and central to those practices is a sense of responsibility for the climate and environment. By implementing a wide range of measures, Lufthansa and its Group companies continuously work on increasing their ecological efficiency in flight operations over the long term. Apart from billion-euro investments in a state-of-the-art low-emissions fleet such as Airbus 350, implementation of latest technologies in aircraft maintenance as well as use of alternative fuels with better CO2 footprint are part of this endeavour. We are proud to share that since 2006, Lufthansa Group has increased the fuel efficiency of its passenger fleet by 12.3 per cent.
Please throw light on some of your CSR programmes in the west.
Aiding close to 40 aid initiatives yearly around the world including India, some of the CSR projects being supported by Lufthansa’s Help Alliance are as follows:
• Destination: Education opportunities, Chancenwerk e.V., Dusseldorf, Germany:
The project is aimed at developing a learning community for youth to develop social skills. This is enabled by developing a learning cascade model for pupils of Class IX and X facilitating them to become learning coaches for younger students.
• Food and Education Programme for the Amazon Children, SEARA e.V., Santarém, Brazil:
The project works towards providing families suffering from extreme poverty living on the outskirts of the city of Santarém with safe and healthy nourishment, hygienic living conditions as well as education and vocational training.
• Acción Humana, San Francisco de Yojoa, Honduras:
The project was founded in 1994 and became part of Help Alliance in 2015. The project has been supporting street children, especially orphans. In the short term, the children are taken off the streets and find a new home and in the long term through education and schooling they are given the chance to live an independent life in the future. In 2000, the project constructed a children’s village, which became a permanent home for around 70 street children.
• Catch-up School, Azraq, Jordan:
A part of Help Alliance since 2016, the project aims to offer education to children in the Refugee camps in Jordan and provide them education. Catch-up School at present offers space for 100 young refugees and together with Help Alliance, the project is planning to develop the Catch-up School further to enable more children have access to the school.
• The First-Step Project, Ghana:
Supported by Help Alliance since 2015, the First Step project is a microcredit project of the First Step Foundation. The project supports women, especially single parents, in their entrepreneurial efforts in order to give them the support they need to live a self-determined life and to ensure they can take care of their children.
• iThemba Primary School, Cape Town, South Africa:
Affiliated with Help Alliance since 2015, the iThemba Pre-School allows poor children access to primary school education and also provide children with long-term, sustainable, educational opportunities.