Legislation regulates the way we utilize natural resources, avoid pollution and harmful substances, manage waste and protect ecosystems and human rights. Supporting sustainability through the use of proactive legislation is nothing new. Rather than being a constraint to businesses and individuals, proactive legislation can eliminate competitive disadvantages and thus be an instrument paving the way to a successful and sustainable future (Berger-Walliser et al., 2016). In many cases, however, legislation is enacted as a last resort. In Germany, a new law on packaging makes it mandatory for the gastronomy sector to provide reusable containers as an alternative to single-use items from 2023 onwards. This is, arguably, a long overdue legislation based on a EU Directive. In a recent representative survey conducted by the German Packaging Institute (DVI) and World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF), 85% of respondents are in favor of introducing a deposit refund system for reusable containers. And while citizens around the globe view climate change as a major threat, the most recent report from the UNFCC warns that climate action plans put forward by nations ahead of COP26 are nowhere close to meeting the goals set in the Paris Agreement. Looking at legislative initiatives in your country, where do you see room for improvement? In which area under the sustainability umbrella do you see the need for more (or less) regulations? Can you share some best (or worst) practices?
Berger-Walliser, G., Shrivastava, P. & Sulkowski, A. (2016). Using Proactive Legal Strategies for Corporate Environmental Sustainability, Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law, 6(1), 1-27.
More and more legislation is coming, whether we like it or not. Much of this will fall under the umbrella of Transition Risk or the regulatory risk that companies will be expected to monitor and manage as part of TCFD disclosures, relating to the policies and codes that are put in place as governments seek decarbonisation and addressing the related drivers/impacts of climate change. We have been tracking, interpreting and providing assessments to hotel companies on regulatory risks affecting their portfolios for nearly a decade now. First it was the building efficiency codes, then mandatory reporting and benchmarking. Then the styrofoam bans and mandates on other types of waste diversion. Then human rights aspects of modern slavery and protection of workers, and currently diversity and inclusion.
All of these will continue and climate legislation toward reporting and performance will also proliferate. Some indirectly but massively important like the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol phasing out refrigerants for cooling equipment that contribute to global warming. The task for our industry is to work with industry bodies and regulators to ensure the policies are relevant and achieve what they are set out to do. Blanket policies for commercial buildings for example sometimes can be ill-fitted for hotels.
Regulations can be drawn up without proper guidance or clarity for implementation, and as always, the distinct roles of owners and operators add complexity which can diminish positive intentions such as rebates and incentives. But as much of a pain it will be to manage this, regulation will help drive the industry toward better buildings and practices over time.