For two years, we saw a world with little travel. In those two years, we discovered how much less of a prosperous and vibrant world we live in when freedom of movement is restricted and how essential travel is for the advancement of our society and humanity.

That realization inspired us, highlighting the value of the work we do and motivating us to look more closely at our purpose. We spent a lot of time soul-searching, reflecting on why we exist and what we hope to accomplish.

The more conversations we had about it, the more we saw one theme rising to the surface. Over and over, it kept coming up – progress. It is this connection between travel and progress that really sits at the heart of our purpose.

As we delved deeper into the idea, the perfect phrase emerged for our purpose statement: powering progress through travel. That four-word phrase distills the essence of American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT). It’s become our mission and mantra.

There are three areas specifically in which we strive to power progress through travel – economic, social, and environmental. Here are some ways how:

Economic progress

Business travel drives economic progress – that’s a fact, not a theory. A recent study from Harvard found a direct link – not just a correlation, but causation – between a country’s incoming business travel and its economic growth. Specifically, researchers found that the more business travelers a country receives, the better its industrial ventures fare and the higher its gross domestic product soars, leading to economic prosperity.

As enablers of business travel, we strive to drive economic prosperity by helping our clients get their travelers where they need to be safely and efficiently, so they can focus on the business at hand and not waste time decoding ever-evolving entry/exit requirements and scouring the web for the best deals.

From guiding travel managers and travelers through new realities to deploying assistance when flights do not take off as planned and working with companies on environmental, social, and governance goals, we’re there behind the scenes, helping businesses move forward 24/7.

By serving as a bridge between businesses and our travel partners, we also are indirectly helping the travel industry – which, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council, could generate $8.6 trillion globally this year, just 6.4% below 2019 levels.

Social progress

Travel helps bring people and communities together while breaking down barriers and biases. It builds connections, understanding, and tolerance – essential ingredients for driving social inclusion and progress around the world. That’s the kind of progress we power when facilitating face-to-face interactions and cultural immersions.

But we wanted to do more in this area, harnessing our skills and strengths.

Leaning into our travel risk management experience, our teams worked around the clock to help bring business travelers and their loved ones fleeing the Russian war in Ukraine to safety.

We also support Miles4Migrants, a nonprofit organization dedicated to using donated frequent flyer miles to help people impacted by war, persecution, or disaster relocate to safe communities. Initially, we helped Miles4Migrants’ efforts to help Afghan families who fled to the United States after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in 2021. Our Traveler Care team made arrangements to fly thousands of evacuees from temporary housing at military bases across the US to their final destinations. The initiative went so well that we’re now supporting Miles4Migrants’ effort to utilize donated flight miles to bring Ukrainians leaving Europe to Canada.

Finally, we have forged a partnership with UNICEF USA and launched our flagship charitable cause, Helping Children Get Back to School in Times of Crisis. We have pledged a million dollars over five years to help UNICEF create and restore education for children during times of emergency, including those whose schooling was disrupted by the pandemic.

Environmental progress

It’s a plain and simple truth: If we want to enjoy the economic and societal benefits of travel, we must build an industry that is more sustainable. Without substantial decarbonization efforts today, global emissions from planes could increase from around 3% to 20% by 2050, sending us in the opposite direction of the science-based targets many corporates (including ourselves) have committed to.

The good news is, we’re making progress on this front through an alliance with Shell Aviation to scale the production and sale of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), a jet fuel made of renewable sources that has the potential to reduce emissions by up to 80% during its full lifecycle. With lower or zero-carbon technologies such as hydrogen and electric flight still decades away, SAF is one of the only viable, in-sector options for cutting emissions in the short or medium term.

Along with Shell and Accenture, we recently announced the launch of Avelia, one of the world’s first blockchain-powered digital book-and-claim solutions for SAF. Through this industry-leading initiative, we are providing clients the ability to purchase SAF and receive environmental attribute certificates as proof of their carbon reduction measures.

To help clients with net-zero ambitions, we also have been embedding sustainability into Amex GBT products and services. Our booking tool features green filters so travelers can choose the most environmentally friendly itineraries, reporting tools that demonstrate how to reduce a program’s carbon footprint against company targets, and a platform that allows clients to purchase high-quality carbon offsets from our trusted partners.

In looking ahead, we will continue to realize our purpose through the vision we have set – to be your travel platform for unrivaled choice, value, and experience with the powerful backing of American Express Global Business Travel. We are working on expanding and enhancing our solutions with the intent to provide you with an unrivaled end-to-end travel experience that enables meaningful travel that powers progress for societies, economies, and ecologies.

To learn more about this work we’re doing, check out our Environmental, Social, and Governance Report.