The Decade of Decarbonisation & Restoration: Needed Actions in Hospitality
— 21 experts shared their view
From the Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism  to the Net Zero Roadmap for Travel & Tourism , the industry is taking on the decarbonisation challenge and giving itself net zero toolboxes. We have officially entered the Decade of Decarbonisation.
Has the industry equally and forcefully entered the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration ? From forest to farmlands, mountains, grasslands and urban environment, nature and ecosystem services are at the center of hospitality processes providing food, filtering water and air and regulating heat in the cities. The industry monetizes the natural beauty of destinations and regularly damages or destroys habitats, sealing ground with infrastructure development. Hospitality developments can be done differently of course, and existing hospitality businesses can prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems, paying back into the upkeep and restoration.
Decarbonisation and biodiversity restoration are two sides of the same coin, but are we acting accordingly?
For the year ahead, what are three actions you recommend the industry to implement which have a dual goal of tackling climate change and biodiversity loss?
 One Planet (2021). Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism. https://www.oneplanetnetwork.org/programmes/sustainable-tourism/glasgow-declaration
 WTTC (2021). A Net Zero Roadpamp for Travel & Tourism. World Travel and Tourism Council & UNEP https://wttc.org/Portals/0/Documents/Reports/2021/WTTC_Net_Zero_Roadmap.pdf
 UNEP & FAO (2021). Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030. https://www.decadeonrestoration.org/
Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director School of Hospitality and Tourism Management
We live at a time when it is critical that we – the members of the tourism system, must contribute solutions to the grand challenges. These challenges include climate change and biodiversity loss. To make the biggest impact on these problems, we need to be thinking of the systems in which we work, and the ways we can make the biggest impact on those systems:
1. Demand system change for climate: We must advocate for change that makes a difference. System-changing actions include demanding utilities change their energy production from burning carbon to renewables, encouraging infrastructure investment, including EV charging stations, advocating for policy changes that require energy-efficient buildings, and supporting research funding for new electric aviation solutions.
2. Reassess your supply chains to protect biodiversity and climate performance. Have your suppliers committed to safeguarding biodiversity ? or do they use palm oil and other ingredients that lead to deforestation? Take responsibility for your supply chain and ensure your suppliers reflect your values.
3. Get your house in order – and tell the world. Many hoteliers are working on their environmental sustainability. There is great progress on reducing energy consumption, minimizing food waste, and reducing single-use plastics – all of which directly reduce the hotel's carbon footprint. This is important work – and everyone doing this work must tell their story. Sustainability is not just something for the exceptional few. Working on sustainability is what well-run hotels do – and the more this is communicated, the clearer that message will become. By telling your story, you encourage others to tell theirs – and you encourage the laggards to get up to speed.
Principal, EplerWood International
In the 2019 report, Destinations at Risk, the Invisible Burden, we categorized all of the areas which were not being accounted for. Natural capital was certainly one of those areas. We stated "it is as crucial as built capital (for example, hotels) and human capital (for example, trained staff.)"
I would recommend these three steps:
- Create locally trained teams to manage destination accounting
- Make certain metrics for climate and natural capital are consistent and are applicable to larger reporting systems utilized by global monitoring bodies, such as NDC reports for the Paris Agreement, in the field of climate change accounting.
- Review highest priorities for destinations at risk and apply models as quickly as possible. Consider areas as highest priority that are facing high risk scenarios for local people and the tourism industry located at the site.
Destinations need an operational approach to managing all capital accounts, which would allow decision makers to target Key Performance Indicators and prevent natural and social capital from decaying to the point we saw in 2015-2019. The devil will be in the details (or software these days), in that local trained experts will have to manage the accounting on an on-going basis.
Ecological Economics has given us a way of understanding the full value of natural capital. But our report concluded that natural capital can be operationally valued, and put into spreadsheets (and someday software!) that can allow us to understand the Invisible Burden of tourism and begin the process of managing accounts that place value on the cost of managing tourism. To help guide this process, the hospitality research world is doing a very fine job right now working on net zero pathways for the hotel world for lowering carbon emissions, which looks very promising. A member of our team is now a reviewer of this material.
Now that I am working more time with the Cornell University Sustainable Asset Management Program, (STAMP) at the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise, S C Johnson College of Business, our goals are many. First we are developing an online certificate for Sustainable Tourism Destination Management which will be 40 hours of challenging but enlightening videos, with a wealth of applicable materials, and readings that walk students through management of the Invisible Burden. A wide range of learning goals are being charted together with eCornell's expert team. Some of the learning goals include,
"Recognize lack of natural and social asset protection - Why isn't the invisible burden being managed? - Review the water, waste, energy, natural, and social capital needs required to make the destination more sustainable and Identify gaps in natural and social capital management that serve both local and visitors' needs"
Full cost accounting for natural and social capital is still an emerging field. But happily net zero accounting using science based carbon accounting systems can help chart the way. We look forward to hearing from all of you on your progress in both areas.
Cornell has rich history in the field of natural capital, and our goal is to incorporate the best of our university has to offer in this new certificate being done with the Travel Foundation and UNWTO with support from the German Corporation for International Development (GIZ), to be sure it is accessible with low cost to professionals and students worldwide. Happy holidays everyone!
CEO of Kerten Hospitality
Our industry has the opportunity to become the Custodian of low carbon and resilient hospitality projects that are self-sustainable and focus, for instance on tangible output. Exhibit A – a suppliers' value chain within a radius of 100km will provide fresher food, easier reach and empowerment of the local businesses rather than capitalising on global producers and large chains. The only way to ensure that the industry shifts to NetZero moving forward and that the solutions are truly implementable, would require a genuine focus on Locality which will continue to evolve as a requirement for the triple bottom line – People, Planet and Prosperity. We belong to the most humane industry that brings together verticals from multiple other industries and we have the chance to SHOW and not just tell how operations, construction, events and travel habits can contribute to a greener, cleaner and healthier world.
The sustainability 2022 context rests on global partnerships of impact that bring together eco-friendly SMEs, local industry leaders and the young generation buzzing with innovation and ideas that are changing the way we perceive Planet problems. This leads me to the second actionable point: Embracing joint and collaborative work with agents of change who focus on conservation, preservation and prevention of exceeding on greenhouse resources waste and resources hyper-waste across the whole Ecosystem, rather than on a smaller isolated scale. The Planet Pivot: Going beyond the sustainability pledge, living the Brand values that synergise with sustainable pain-points in multiple diverse geographies and bringing forth an ESG-compliant mindset across organisations on the inside and outside. Introducing holistic organisation's focus on supply chains, products, partners and initiatives would need to happen with the application of a moral compass and Action by all of us – front desk managers, boardrooms, HR trainers, internship leaders, young researchers, etc.
Decision-makers need to unilaterally agree that only by walking the talk, as an industry we will be able to progress the Pledges. It is not a project silo or a government dedication to reach sustainability measures that really matter, but it will increasingly become outcome-based with implementable metrics, the new generation leadership and value-driven innovation. We have all been part of the biggest call for change the world has experienced in centuries, and I believe, all lessons learnt will help us fast forward to #Sustainability2050.
And last but not least, the smallest things make a great impact, if Sustainability becomes part of all companies' DNA, versus a side vertical, we can together drive change throughout; it is still seen as a nice to have and not a necessity.
Founder & CEO of WE(i) Think
My 3 recommendations to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss are the following:
- Education - of guests, employees, communities, investors. The hospitality industry has an important role in spreading the word about sustainability through its wide reach. Educating people on these principles is for me the first step to trigger long term change.
- Mindful spending - from investment to procurement, hotels need to think of how they spend their money and what is the impact of their choices, calculating their ROI not solely based on profit but on overall return and impact for the environment and the people.
- Forward thinking - shifting from a sustainable approach to a regenerative approach, targeting how we can improve our environment, restore its fauna and flora, improve air and water quality, when evaluating different solutions or action points.
My overall recommendation would be to take the first step today, no matter how big or small it is.
Head Of Consultancy at Farnek Services LLC
The Hospitality Industry is at a stage of economic recovery after the pandemic impact and I think one of the key learning that the industry gained is that sustainability should be a top priority since every business is at risk due to the unprecedented environmental & climate change risks and for future survival every business should focus on operating without damaging the environment and health of our natural world. Hospitality is one industry that is heavily dependent on natural ecosystems and any damage to the natural world will affect the prospects of the industry. Any impact on climate change poses a great risk to biodiversity which in turn impacts tourism as for majority of the travelers tourism is about enjoying natural world and experiencing local sustainable dining experiences. Increasingly customers are orienting towards sustainable travel choices & hotels are at a point where sustainable commitment & actions are being evaluated by customers. Through simple but effective action hotels can contribute towards a positive climate action that can not only protect the biodiversity as well improve their business prospects as well.
- Sustainable siting & design & operations to ensure there are no altercations and impact on the natural environment where the hotel is located & have efficient utility and pollution & waste management systems
- Designing F & B systems by avoiding endangered species and sustainable sourcing of food items
- Initiate & support local biodiversity conservation programs and projects that are aimed at increasing local and native flora and fauna.
Senior lecturer at Saxion UAS
Finding the Mother Tree
Three effective actions to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss. Can we “just do it” and save the planet? Can the hospitality industry reinvent itself as eco-conscious and responsible change agents? At least it is in our DNA to act hospitably. But how can we transform into hosts of a place where biodiversity flourishes and climate change is arrested?
Let's explore the issue and step into the world of fantasy. Imagine the hospitality industry as a system not driven by short term profit demands, but driven by hospitality in its original sense: welcoming others and taking care of them. Then follow the trail and imagine that this hospitality ecosystem grows like a forest. The latest scientific insights about forests are truly fascinating. In her new book, Canadian forest ecologist Suzanne Simard shows us that forests are cooperative systems: plants, trees and other organisms transport nutrients, water and information across intricate fungal root systems and microbes beneath the ground. These carriers provide nourishment and resources, mount defenses against invasive species and enable other organisms to grow. Thus, the soil of the forest sustains trees in myriad ways. Simard introduces the concept of mother trees, trees with the strongest connections to the other nodes in the wood wide web: “mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them” (Simard, 2021). Let's for a moment imagine that hotels act like these mother trees in their own ecosystem, actively connecting and nourishing their fellow beings for the good of the whole. If this idea sounds a little too fanciful, let us see how the mother tree concept can be applied to hospitality networks.
Hotels that position themselves as the mother tree, take responsibility for their environment: everything that depends on them and everything that contributes to them. Once they acknowledge this responsibility and dependence, they can make a profound shift. As hosts of the ecosystem, they will ensure that all of their activities bring nourishment and reciprocity for all members of the ecosystem. We can now imagine that mother tree hotels tap into the intelligence of their guests, by actively organising conversations with them. Instead of obsessing about guest satisfaction, mother tree hotels engage and reward guests for sharing best sustainable practices. We can also imagine that hotels host their own conferences, inviting owners, staff, guests and local businesses, universities and NGO's, to generate solutions for carbon drawdown and biodiversity in the local region.
But what about the three ideas in the original question? The scientific outcomes collected by the authoritative Drawdown Project show that the three most effective ways to reduce carbon emissions are 1) plant-rich diets, 2) health and education and 3) reduced food waste. Plant-rich diets could be the focus for all F&B suppliers and chefs, creating menus that delight guests and reduce carbon emissions. Health and education could be the focus for all HR managers, ensuring that every staff member is educated about healthy lifestyles for themselves and their guests. And they could learn about the key local issues around climate change and the impact of human activities on climate and biodiversity. Staff could gain insights into good food from local food producers and other. Reducing food waste should be a priority for F&B management, monitoring how nutrients are used efficiently from soil to plate. Hotel managers could start conversations with ecologists on how to protect local water systems or replant depleted soils, build solar roofs or even start their own food forests.
Yes, we can do it. We can apply these three ideas into our local ecosystem so that it flourishes again. All we need to do, is to step into our forest and be the hospitable mother tree.
Simard, S. (2021). Finding the Mother Tree. Uncovering the Wisdom and Intelligence of the forest.
Project Drawdown (2021). Table of Solutions. (https://drawdown.org/solutions/table-of-solutions).
Senior Research Fellow in Sustainability at Hotelschool The Hague
As summed up above, the crisis on COVID, Climate Change, Biodiversity lost and social-economical challenges showcases that we are not yet in the safe spot of the Doughnut (Kate Raworth, 2017). SME's, Global companies, and consumers are acting in ways that are undermining the social foundation and crossing the ecological ceiling of the Doughnut Economy. How to tackle both climate change and biodiversity loss?
The advice ' Think globally, act locally' is not original, but still very valid in this respect. René Dubos coined this statement (version 1.0) to warn that global programs cannot be easily translated everywhere into local actions, shortly after the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Environment (Gerlach, 1991). Afterwards the statement have been used by grassroots movements (version 2.0) to encourage people to act locally to save the world (Gerlach 1991). Can we use both notions to formulate 3 action to tackle both climate change and biodiversity loss?
Action 1: Act locally to increase our resilience: strengthen the importance of local markets! This will decrease emission of CO2 and these markets are less fragile to emergencies such as COVID and will recover earlier. Version 2.0
Action 2: Act locally to increase our biodiversity: Supporting local agriculture/product to safeguard or support biodiversity. Use your facility as safe havens for biodiversity (green roofs, bee hives or green walls might be solutions that can support biodiversity in and around our build environment.
Action 3: Act locally by translating 'best practices' to your own local setting! Version 1.0
I very much believe that Hoteliers have an unique position to CONNECT and SAFEGUARD these 3 actions in their community, using both notions of 'Think Globally, act Locally.'
Raworth, K. (2017). Doughnut economics: seven ways to think like a 21st-century economist. Chelsea Green Publishing.
Gerlach, L. P. (1991). Global Thinking, Local Acting: Movements to Save the Planet. Evaluation Review, 15(1), 120–148. https://doi.org/10.1177/0193841X9101500107
Director, How to Green Your Hotel
Hospitality businesses should develop detailed plans that enable them to eliminate their carbon emissions in the next one to two decades. The plans should include the achievement of periodic milestones. There are three steps to eliminating carbon emissions, and they don't need to be completed in order.
The first step is to establish a capital spending plan, with a timetable, for improving energy efficiency. Some venues have already cut their energy use by over 40% from a baseline in the early 2000's. They can make efficiency gains in the following areas: HVAC, lighting, other equipment (kitchens, laundries, bathrooms, elevators), plug loads and building shell improvements. They should incorporate advanced smart building technology (sensors, controls, automation, variable speed capabilities) to assure that their equipment runs only when necessary and as much as necessary.
The second step is the hardest one for many existing venues: electrify everything that burns fossil fuel onsite—typically heat, hot water and cooking equipment. It's easy to deploy electric heating in new buildings, but it's often expensive and difficult to incorporate electric heat and hot water in existing buildings that were not designed for them. Government incentives might be necessary.
The third step is the easiest one—buy 100% renewable electricity. The premium for doing so is small in many parts of the world, and it's declining everywhere.
Hospitality businesses can protect biodiversity loss in many ways. Here are three: conserve and restore habitat, in concert with their communities; manage visitor behavior at sensitive sites; and offer only seafood that is sustainably harvested.
Adjunct Professor of Sustainable Tourism and Sustainable Hospitality
Educator of Hospitality Professionals
BA Hons, PGCE & MSc, Tourism Training Specialist & Business Mentor for Small, Independent Hotels
Tackling climate change and biodiversity loss can seem like a huge challenge and getting started is often the hardest part.
I believe concrete action number one starts with you, the business owner.
The process of integrating more sustainable practices that help tackle climate change and biodiversity loss into a business does not have a start and a finish. It must be seen as a holistic approach that will become part of your ethos and will sit over every action that is taken today, and every day in the future.
It intrinsically involves making changes to operations. Operations are conducted and managed by humans, so for operational changes to be successful, we need to significantly change behaviour.
In order to change behaviour, people need to understand why we are asking people to do things differently. If you are not fully behind the change, it is really hard to a) get started, b) convince your staff to change too, and c) maintain momentum over time.
Concrete action number two is choosing an action to get started with. It should be one that will have a significant impact, but it must also be within your capability and resources. Starting small by measuring on reporting on food waste at your property for example, gives you more chance of seeing positive results. This will in turn incentivise you to continue onto bigger and more impactful projects.
Concrete action number three is a two-prong approach to communicating what you are doing. The first part is internal communication. It is imperative to educate and guide your staff members so that they support and grow with you. Operational change needs to be underpinned by a training programme so that staff members understand why they are being asked to do things differently.
The second part of action number three is external communication. Generating change that matters should not be hidden from the public eye. It is necessary to get confident about integrating your sustainability actions into your regular marketing strategy. By sharing the results and showcasing the positive impacts of action taken, you cannot fail to influence others, from peers and competitors to partners and consumers.
We have a unique chance and an imperative responsibility right now and taking on the challenge by working though these concrete steps is the only way to generate sustained change.
With renewed attention around climate change and biodiversity, many hoteliers are taking action to reduce their carbon footprint and protect their natural surroundings. Hoteliers today are adopting technologies that enable them to provide a more modern and enhanced guest experience while also reducing waste and promoting a better use of resources. Whether used by larger hotel brands or smaller boutique hotels, in addition to other efforts, technology can be an equalizer in terms of its ability to promote a positive impact on the environment.
By adopting modern technology, hoteliers can offer guests the digital convenience they are accustomed to in a post-pandemic world, while also offsetting their dependency on paper and plastic. With keyless room entry, guests can use their smartphones to enter their rooms, eliminating the need for the use of costly and environmentally unfriendly plastic cards, many of which end up in the landfill. Mobile check-in enables guests the convenience of checking in using their smartphones, while removing the use of paper registration cards, packets, receipts and folios. Using mobile apps and in-room tablets, hoteliers can digitize their compendiums and restaurant menus further reducing their use of paper. Digital ticketing and guest messaging can reduce the need to print checklists, process handbooks and more.
Hoteliers are also using technology and processes to promote the conservation of water and energy by providing hotel guests the option to opt in or opt out of having daily housekeeping service or fresh towels. When this is multiplied at scale, hoteliers can significantly reduce water waste and promote the preservation of resources. For the growing number of eco-conscious travelers, having these sustainable practices in place can provide a reason to select a given hotel for an upcoming trip.
Lastly, adopting technologies that save energy in multiple ways can also improve operational efficiencies and positively impact the bottom line. Smart-room technologies such as occupancy sensors that turn lights off and HVAC when a guest is not in-room or when a public area is not in use, significantly reduce energy waste and the corresponding monthly bill.
Managing Director at blueContec GmbH
The three actions that I would recommend the industry to implement with the dual goal of tackling climate change and biodiversity loss would be:
1.) Actively manage your own premises and especially the garden and areas that you own
Often hotels and resorts have larger garden and public areas or places in their ownership for future plans. These places should be managed with climate change and biodiversity considerations. One idea is for example to use it for Carbon Farming practices or apply the philosophy of edible landscapes based on endemic or suitable organic grown fruits and vegetables.
2.) Empower your employees to become climate and biodiversity ambassadors
Everything starts with the attitude of your employees. As such an interactive training with local farmers and producers could inspire a proactive attitude towards climate protection and biodiversity. At the same time, this training could lead to supportive measures of those actors that are the real heroes of biodiversity and climate protection: Our farmers.
3.) Actively manage your supply chain with regard to climate change and biodiversity loss issues
If you think of the Carbon or Biodiversity footprint of all your suppliers, this is where the real impact lies. Therefore it will change a lot if a tourism company starts to manage the supply chain systematically. It could start with the 20% most important suppliers. Maybe you visit them, interact and discuss with them what you can commonly do to increase the biodiversity and protect our climate.
Professor of Sustainability in Hospitality and Tourism at Stenden University of Applied Sciences
Restoration and regeneration are seen by many as the next frontier of sustainability in general and sustainability in hospitality and tourism in particular. NHL Stenden Hotel Management School (Leeuwarden, the Netherlands) has joined forces with Smart Travel Lab and the Ryerson University Hotel Management School to launch a challenge for hospitality management students: "The Regeneration Collection".
The challenge harnesses students' creativity in designing and prototyping regenerative accommodations. The end in mind is to accelerate the development of regenerative accommodations and destination all around the world.
Contingent Managing Director - Sustainability at Techstars
My suggestions for the three actions to be taken in 2022 to promote decarbonisation and biodiversity restoration are as follows:
Utilise the data you have and are collecting - According to Harvard Business Review (What's Your Data Strategy 2017 – Leandro DalleMule and Thomas H. Davenport), “Cross-industry studies show that on average, less than half of an organisation's structured data is actively used in making decisions—and less than 1% of its unstructured data is analysed or used at all”. Most organisations are therefore sitting on a potentially extremely valuable asset and not doing much about it.
Structure and analyse the data - Understanding what the datasets have been and are collected and ”making sense of them”. Monitoring and understanding real time or near real time data usually requires some type of a visualisation tool, being it a dashboard or a report that can be generated. Once data can be visualised, or in other words turned into information, it is easier to use it to pinpoint anomalies or diverging trends. These inefficiencies signify opportunities for adjustments that can be made to promote both decarbonisation and ecosystem / biodiversity protection and restoration. This information can also be benchmarked against others in the same industry vertical, which also helps finding areas for improved efficiencies.
Deploy technology to predict the future - We can use the information and understanding we have derived from old and current data, and use these to model what will happen in the future. We can use this type of analytics for a number of things, for example to improve the sustainability of new hospitality infrastructure based on data sets from the past. Deploying technologies like machine learning can further help mitigating emerging issues and risks. A system that uses algorithms to identify and alert employees to patterns that cause inefficiencies can provide significant benefits for both decarbonisation and natural ecosystem protection.
Founder of Marco Bevolo Consulting
Immediate threats to the preservation of any residual environmental balance might be addressed by emergency actions or structural policy. However, the role of designers, from city architects to educators, will be mission critical for the longer term, by redefining the scope and the depth of their mission, from aesthetics to visioning.
The leisure, tourism, and hospitality sectors need to grow beyond outdated notions of "experience design" to radically redefine their role in societies, as done in Canada in the reconciliation and restitution processes. In this decolonizing notion of design, context and planet lead over and beauty is a strategy, not a materialistic asset.
"Massive Change" was defined by Canadian thought leader and designer, Bruce Mau, as a new design philosophy, rethinking systems as opportunities. Mau developed his "Life-cetered Design" approach, whereby people-centric humanism is replaced by holism, building on indigenous cosmogonies and philosophies.
Co-Founder at TUTAKA
Decarbonization measures should always be channeled through a profound assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem impact. The reason we are facing a climate crisis is our disregard and exploitation of natural resources. The destruction of ecosystems is what brought our carbon cycles out of balance in the first place. Now, fixing the problem with the same attitude around technology and eternal growth does not seem like the best strategy going forward. 1) Understand the impact of your business on species and ecosystems and create expertise/capacity on it 2) Minimize your negative impact, maximize your positive impact 3) Channel your decarbonization measures through a broader impact assessment including impact on biodiversity and ecosystems.
Founder & Director, Audit Diagnostic Solutions Tourism
If I had a magic lantern I would make the three following wishes.
1. My first wish would consist in addressing seriously the topic of Food Waste and stop throwing away the resources in the bin. This is our responsibility to change everybody's mind about Food Waste and make it a priority.
2. My second wish would concern Single Use Plastic eradication in hotels. There are great inspiring initiatives with amazing positive impacts. Forget the straws and see bigger: our industry is searching for excuses to avoid drastic changes but for how long can we keep this posture?
3. My third wish would be addressed to hotels' owners, developers and architects: could you please stop building sick hotels that monopolize our time and energy to try and make them less impactful? It would allow us to focus on other topics like the ones mentioned above as well as communities, governance, education, supply chain, diversity,....
Dear magic lantern, make it happen!!!
In comparison to the destination hotels found in the world's most breathtaking locations, there are thousands of hotels in urban and suburban settings. Because what is local is global and vice versa, the solution must be universal.
Every hotel project uses FF&E and OS&E products that are contributing to our global carbon footprint and degradation of ecosystems. There is tremendous power to make change by factoring environmental impacts into the performance assessment of products, of design, and of purchasing. Simply stated, the three actions are to produce better, design better, and buy better.
- Manufacturers can evaluate each aspect of the product lifecycle and optimize for a better environmental footprint.
- Designers can create interiors with a better story by considering the environmental impacts of products including materials, chemicals, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, impact during use, and end of life options.
- Brands, management companies and owners can drive change by setting goals and tracking progress across each brand, and project, directing their teams to specify and purchase products that meet environmental performance goals.
Is it a big task? Yes, but it's happening! Come join the effort underway with Marriott International, Four Seasons, Highgate Hotels, SH Hotels, and their hundreds of FF&E and OS&E vendors, and design firms.
Professor of Hospitality Management at the IU International University of Applied Sciences, Germany
“What's better for plants and wildlife is better for the climate”
(Paul C. West, Director of special projects for Project Drawdown)
Earlier this year, I authored a white paper on Nature-based Solutions for Urban Hotel Real Estate (free access here: https://www.hospitalitynet.org/opinion/4105089.html) where I argued that hotels are well positioned to tackle both climate and biodiversity challenges.
Considering the tremendous task to decarbonize a global hotel building stock of well-over 700,000 properties worldwide, nature is an important ally. The industry is increasingly expected to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems, paying back into the upkeep and restoration.
For the year ahead, here are three actions for the industry which have a dual goal of tackling climate change and biodiversity loss:
1. For existing properties: implement a living wall, rooftop garden and/or re-wild landscapes
Research is unequivocal, the benefits outweigh the costs of implementation and maintenance 
2. For new properties: enhance biodiversity through blue-green infrastructure
Our built environment, including the surroundings of new hotel properties, is covered in concrete and asphalt. Without any shade from trees, those spaces exacerbate the urban heat island effect. The water cycle is an issue in cities, with increased heavy storms pushing the storm sewers to the limits and along the way carrying all sorts of urban pollutants into rivers, streams and oceans and possibly increasing the flooding problems since water cannot find its way through concrete. Blue-green infrastructure planning is key, making room for water and vegetation and providing space for fauna, flora and humans to flourish.
3. For hotel operations: design a menu in line with biodiversity protection and restoration in mind
Soil and water play a critical role in the absorption of carbon emissions and in the provision of quality crops and nutritious food. Make room for more wild, local and diverse food supporting a rich agrobiodiversity.
A call for 2022:
Stop habitat loss - Restore degraded areas - Protect fragile environments – Refuse development in pristine ecosystems.
Assistant Professor at Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL)
Hospitality is really behind the game; hence I believe the three concrete actions the industry should implement as soon as possible: legal obligation to include sustainability reporting standards in their yearly operations such as GRI or ISO; non-voluntary carbon offset for guests and hotels: and sustainability trainings for hospitality staff.
The first one would enforce hotels to report what they really do, and not what they choose to report, only. This would terminate reporting-related green-washing that hinders real challenges.
Carbon offset has been mainly a voluntary act, without major success. Thus, the second action would make guests more responsible for their environmental impacts while staying in a hotel. This extra cost to offset their sojourn should be shared between them and the hotel.
Hotel employees often lack a solid training concerning the foundation of sustainable development. Since climate change has become an inescapable reality, the hospitality industry should develop concrete training programs for hotel employees, which would engender sustainability actions in the field, on a daily basis. This way it would not be, only, an imposed corporate strategy, but rather an inclusive engagement.
Founder, Agentur Auf!
First of all: It's great that you have taken up this topic so prominently! Thank you for that.
Biodiversity and ecosystem services are not only victims of man-made climate change, they offer on the other hand perfect so-called nature-based-solutions to counteract it. Ecosystems store huge amounts of carbon and via photosynthesis turn it into building materials (like timber), (plant) food, coastal protection systems (like mangroves) and much more. If not only the tourism sector, but all economic sectors would understand this better, if we finally develop functioning mechanisms for the valorization of biodiversity and ecosystem services, then we will also be able to meet the challenges of the climate catastrophe.