Amongst global sustainable hospitality experts there seem to be two co-existing, and sometimes contradictory, concepts for structuring sustainability agendas. On the one hand, there is an appeal to comply with and be guided by recognized global standards and certification schemes. Sound arguments include the ability to benchmark performance and ambitions, foster transparency and ensure a common and global approach and understanding of what sustainable hospitality is and includes. On the other hand, sustainability agendas must address local realities. A global hospitality relies on local infrastructure and responds to local stakeholder expectations. Local infrastructure such as energy grids, waste management facilities, access to water supplies and operational supply chains all impacts the sustainability performance of hotels. Some experts might argue that there is no sustainability unless created locally and locally only. Following the logic, the question arises whether such a high degree of individualization can be standardized at all. Now, whilst both approaches have their advocates, the majority seems to be trying to figure out how to combine the best of both worlds.
Where is the sweet spot between standardized frameworks for sustainable hospitality and individualized, local sustainability action plans? Which standards provide sufficient space for adjustments on the basis of local realities? What further arguments strengthen or weaken the application of both approaches? How much does the size and structure of the business influence the approach?
Agenda 21 (turning 30 this year) was designed with this in mind – to create a global standard that we could rally behind but that could be delivered on a local level, bringing benefits to local communities. Standards based on Agenda 21 principals should reflect the lofty global goals but offer the individualized opportunity to create local outputs. Global, standardised frameworks contribute to efficiency and provide consistent, comparable and reliable results. They ensure that we are all talking the same language and provide us with a framework to create efficiencies. Yet they must offer a localised focus.
No two businesses are the same; therefore, no two sustainability journeys will be the same. Frameworks should allow for contextualization, local solutions and regional interpretation. Without the ability to embed the local outcomes, there will not be positive community, economic and environmental outcomes and therefore, objectives will not be met.
To reflect on my own organisation, at EarthCheck, our suite of certification programs are based on Agenda 21 principles, mapped to the SDGs, and align to other sector-based standards and methodologies, including several ISO standards, the GHG Protocol and the CDP. But our clients operate in 70 countries worldwide. That's 70 unique policy environments and an array of communities. They are participating to achieve different goals and visions – some with a focus on social, others on environmental, some to preserve the unique heritage and culture of the destination, yet they've all been independently audited and assessed – their localised approach contributing to global goals. After all, we all breathe the same air.
Where is the sweet spot between standardized frameworks for sustainable hospitality and individualized, local sustainability action plans?
How important is knowing the local community around your hotel, mixed-use project or a resort destination? We seek the answer in multiple variables ranging from the initial process of creating or choosing frameworks, guidelines, or policies, to personal adaptivity to each location. Standardized frameworks provide a much-needed basis and grounds in allowing for a mutual understanding and guidance for all members in their varying locations. They should function as a guideline in what is trying to be achieved, why and the importance, not a one size-fits-all, step by step of what to do exactly. However, it is equally important for sustainability values and beliefs to be engrained within the DNA of all team members and as the basis of referral for all decision making and operational plans. It is important to both stick to a framework and to establish an inner/mutual sustainable value system amongst employees and to have that impact and influence also following through into supply chains.
For sustainability action plans and goals to be truly effective, they must be specifically tailored to meet each community and location needs in order to really have an impact in community developments and appropriate support. If the top sustainability goal and focus is locality, then locals should be the basis and starting point of the framework, of decision making, of operations and overall way of business. Setting all policies and guidelines to surround the importance and idea of 'locality' encourages all hotels to first consider the local community, and possibilities surrounding. Having the basis and priority set as 'locality' now sets a clear action plan and thought process guidance for all properties globally to adapt and follow to meet their specific community and hotel needs.
Which standards provide sufficient space for adjustments on the basis of local realities?
Standards that are specifically created to outline the company's specific goals, values and targets while upholding the possibilities of adaptivity and personalization, are most efficient when really trying to highlight the individuality of each local community.
First, being aware that there are differences – this means studying the various locations and their specific ESG needs and allowing for independency and personalization in the different properties rather than making one standardized process to be implemented globally.
How much does the size and structure of the business influence the approach?
With private, individual properties, they have the advantage to truly focus on their one surrounding community: in creating and maintaining beneficial, supporting relationships and truly being a positive community symbol and economic driver. The benefit and opportunity with smaller, individual properties is they can become very personal with their collaborations and community outreach.
The larger the organization, and more of a global footprint they have means also more resources and opportunities to really drive an impactful sustainability framework and monitoring system. This should also translate to a greater effort and resources dedicated to positively impacting the surrounding communities. Larger, international firms are in the position to invest in and truly drive economic profitability within the communities.
What further arguments strengthen or weaken the application of both approaches?
Complying with global standards and guidelines carries the benefit of a trusted entity or organization validating your sustainability efforts and practices. It is also a good source for creating a base line and in-depth understanding of the core inefficiencies within the industry and how to go about tackling them. Sustainable hospitality, however, does not mean the same for every hotel property operating globally which further stresses the importance for each hotel to develop their action plans uniquely. There is definitely the possibility to combine both, integrating the approach of global frameworks by creating a benchmark and structure for measurements, and tracking – but having that done individually for each hotel and community depending on their overall hotel and community need needs and local industry standards.
While some sustainability issues are truly global (e.g. climate change), the majority are regional issues (including water stewardship, biodiversity and youth employment) that require locally applicable and accessible solutions that account for geographical specificities, and local regulations and restraints.
That being said, there is recognisable value in overarching frameworks in their ability to offer strategic guidance, identify the most meaningful areas to focus on, and form the foundation for joined-up action across all stakeholders in the complex hospitality value chain. Importantly, they also serve to set ambitions for the industry, and motivate everyone as part of the global effort towards a sustainable future.
To truly support organisations of all sizes, geographies and sustainability maturity, a combination of the two is required. The UN Sustainable Development Goals are built upon this very premise of thinking globally and acting locally.
It is with these values in mind that we have developed the Pathway to Net Positive Hospitality; a guidance framework laying out the full journey hotels need to take to reach a global ambition of net positive environmental impacts, which will be launched in March.
The Pathway is designed to provide a clear direction for hospitality, setting out four stages with increasing ambition, with accompanying resources to enable users to build individualised action plans which are relevant to their specific situation and location. The Pathway also accounts for the fragmented nature of the industry by providing guidance for the buildings as well as operations.
By establishing a long-term vision whilst simultaneously providing users with the tools and resources for relevant practical action, the Pathway aims to fall into this “sweet spot” between standardised frameworks and individualised plans.
René Dubos, warned shortly after the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Environment, that global programs cannot be easily translated everywhere into local actions (Gerlach, 1991). Version 1.0 of the slogan 'Think Globally and Act Locally' was born (see also my viewpoint December 2021).
The importance of translating and adjusting general insight into a specific context can also be found in Hotel programs, certification schemes and reporting tools. Accor's Planet 21 uses a system of 10 mandatory actions and a free selection of a big set of initiatives to let each hotel make their own priorities and include the local context. This system of mandatory and free elements is also used in the Greenkey certification. In the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) these principles are captured in the concept of Materiality.
A good definition of Materiality is: “ ..topics that represent an organization's most significant impacts on the economy, environment, and people, including impacts on their human rights.” (GRI, 2021, p. 4)
So I really belief that using this notion of Materiality is helpful in formulating and implementing sustainable strategies both at the head office and at the level of the individual hotel. This can create the right balance between: what is needed at the global level (e.g. the energy transition) and how the most (positive) impact can be created from the perspective of the 'local' hotel ecosystem!
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
GRI, 2021, GRI Standards, GRI 3: Material Topics 2021, accessed on 18 February 2022 https://www.globalreporting.org/...
Of course, the question is a false dichotomy. We must do both - Think and act locally; think and act globally.
Global standards, like the GSTC criteria, provide comprehensive frameworks designed to ensure holistic approaches to sustainability. As such – they provide great value in showing the big picture. Managing sustainability must be more than a couple of loosely linked programs. A plastic reduction program here and a food waste reduction program there are important tasks – and great places to start - but they aren't comprehensive approaches to sustainability.
But that is not to say you have to eat the whole steak in one mouthful. Or rather - that is not to say that every destination or business must meet every criterion from the beginning.
It is true that there are core elements at the foundation of almost every sustainability plan. For instance, at the heart of environmental sustainability is the management of water, energy, and waste. And even though these elements should be core to any plan, the importance of these items may vary – depending on whether the business is located in a water-scarce location or a community where businesses use energy generated by fossil fuels. And beyond the core, the activities businesses and destinations choose to make their first priorities will vary based on the perceived needs of key stakeholders. As the first priorities are addressed, other sustainability issues can be addressed.
Ultimately, sustainability management is a process of performance improvement.
Perhaps the more important issue is that we need to learn the meaning of our measures. Comparing data across types of business or even between different environments is both nuanced and fraught. As we standardize measures, we must be careful not to create disincentives for businesses to engage in the process.
Even as destinations find solutions to their specific issues, it is important to recognize that “unique” is an overused term. In my experience so far, there are very few unique challenges – and there is much to be learned from others facing similar issues. Wicked problems need customized solutions, and the implementation of sustainability programs is a wicked problem. Nevertheless, while every problem is “unique” – many of the challenges faced by businesses and destinations are the same and we don't have to reinvent the wheel in every business or every destination community.
Standards, while setting a minimum, need to be aspirational as well. But in the end, there must exist a path to reach or achieve those standards. Having said that, existing globally recognized standards hold a lot of value in their ability to promote the recipient of the standards' certification but may miss the mark in driving an impact across different geographies, given the local context of an area. Local standards, however, may not have the reach or comparability that global standards have, but they are able to highlight more locally critical sustainability factors.
A solution we would propose for the hospitality industry, given its diversity, is establishing an international body that will set and enforce standards on important sustainability indicators at a global level but weighing the significance of those indicators based on specific geographical regions to best fit their unique conditions and variables. The weights to be applied to the agreed upon indicators should be developed for the different regions of the world to account for their specific realities.
While some indicators, (e.g., climate impact) are measured and addressed based on a global snapshot, others are highly local. As an example, certain locations have abundant freshwater supplies. Measures to limit water consumption are much less critical than they are in water stressed locations. To further illustrate this point, let's consider the LEED standard for buildings where most points that can be earned revolve around a building's mechanical system. For example, regions that rely on mechanical systems for cooling and heating have a better chance of meeting and proving compliance compared to regions where natural airflow is used for cooling. The simple reason for this disparity is these points may not be pursued by properties in those areas because of the added difficulty of proof inherent in the standard. Imagine that, under this global standard, it is harder to earn the same credits when using natural ventilation, even though it is the more sustainable option.
The design of such a global standard would require participation from local entities who can bring the regional knowledge in addition to the global experts. It's establishment and worldwide adoption would create a mechanism by which properties could truly be compared, and assign meaning to any certification based on these standards. For the consumer, it will mean confidence, trust, and peace of mind when selecting accommodations with the lowest impact on the environment, and/or the highest social impact on local communities. Not to mention the added bonus of knowing what it means when we see certifications on websites and in lobbies, thus limiting opportunities for greenwashing.
Where is the sweet spot between standardized frameworks for sustainable hospitality and individualized, local sustainability action plans?
Standardized frameworks for the hospitality world serve to manage internal sustainability impacts and costs. Research we have done on the report, Destinations at Risk, the Invisible Burden of Tourism asks industry to consider how we will manage the “operational externalities” of tourism around the world at the destination level. In our publication, we suggest that the “future of tourism will depend on industry and government's ability to efficiently and effectively measure and manage the full cost per tourist.” There are many reasons to consider a new set of consistent public private annual accounts that can offer a better look at the specific costs for managing tourists at the local level. These are not theoretical costs. And they are not terribly unique for each destination. They include the use of water and energy, management of waste and wastewater, the GhG emissions per tourist, and the cost of greening infrastructure for tourism and residents at the local level. Action plans can proceed for hotels via public private cooperation on the vital questions of how to improve energy, water, waste and wastewater treatment per tourist at the local level.
- Which standards provide sufficient space for adjustments on the basis of local realities?
Combined efforts to lower the invisible burden of tourism over time could without question be highly responsive to local realities and would remove overlap between private sector monitoring and government cost accounting for improving the destinations utilities while motivating investment in destinations.
- What further arguments strengthen or weaken the application of both approaches?
As we all try to cope with the enormous task of lowering the total environmental and social impacts of tourism on destinations, the benefits of getting joint public private operational accounting systems in place are numerous, including:
- Energy systems in destinations will be designed to incorporate tourism uses in the most efficient manner
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions will be measured and lowered as part of tourism policy formulation to meet national goals
- Ecosystem management for tourism will include the protection of parks, coastal zones, dunes and other important biodiversity sites resulting in more stability, resilience and social well-being in the face of climate change, extreme weather and sea level rise
- How much does the size and structure of the business influence the approach?
The size and structure of business will matter much less if businesses become part of operational accounting systems at the destination level. It will supply them with the data required for lowering their footprint, e.g. what it will take to improve destination utility services for their properties. While training is required at the local level to undertake this kind of accounting, it is already feasible and Cornell University is working now to launch this training as part of the new Sustainable Tourism Destination Management on-line certificate to come out in the Fall of 2022 with the support of GIZ and eCornell. Cooperation between hotels and such regional accounting systems will allow them to jointly manage “operational externalities,” and improve on deficient infrastructure at the local level. These improvement costs can be computed and audited to ensure that business and government can rely on the overall operational costs derived. Once “operational externality costs” are accounted for as illustrated here, there will be a greater chance that the budget to improve destinations will begin to be formulated. This will support the improvement of hotel sustainability frameworks worldwide.
Mixing global and local frameworks are necessary to set up efficient sustainability measures. While a global setting is a good way to enforce measures and make them understandable and recognizable to the public, it is unrealistic to assume that there will be a one size fits all template in our global environment.
Global and local measures should complement each other when it comes to sustainability. Location specificities have a big impact on various factors impacting sustainability measures, from climate to natural environment, local population and isolation of the place, size of the building and level of finishing, city vs seaside vs countryside vs mountain,... Although having global standards is a good way to set the tone and give guidelines and a framework for investors, developers and operators, it is important to tailor them to reflect the local realities, allowing structures who do not tick all the boxes because of their circumstances to still be part of the collective effort to make our industry more sustainable.
Having said that, it would be interesting to work on regional models/case studies with variable locations and sizes that can be used as best case for properties and highlight what they should be aiming for, using data and monitoring to set targets in terms of sustainability measures, which can cover various topics from energy and water use, CO2 emissions, local procurement, employment of local population, …
Having worked in 35 countries to implement sustainability programs, I could witness first-hand the difficulties to bridge international standards and local eco systems. Hotels and restaurants are willing to reach international standards and benchmark their results with fellow businesses but at the same time each destination particularities should be acknowledged.
To implement a successful sustainability programme there is a need to understand the local context, to learn from it and identify the priorities to deal with. Does the destination face water shortages? Are the human rights flouted? How could local entrepreneurs become reliable suppliers?...
These are some questions that international chains and standards should bear in mind when they create and wish to implement their systems. There should be core values that every different destination can adopt and then room for local context.
When we created the Asian Captive Elephant Standards, we realized from the beginning that we should consider each country specificities and we have decided to adapt our criteria to the risks of extinction depending on the country. We wanted to secure strong commitment to international values and at the same take into account the local situation.
Such an approach means that there is an understanding of local contexts and the acceptance that international standards need to adapt. This prerequisite will make them stronger in the long run.
I believe that the need for global standards is obvious, but ones that include a certain level of flexibility when the compliance is being audited.
Take the example of The PLEDGE on Food Waste Certification (www.thepledgeonfoodwaste.org ) for hotels' outlets, restaurants and canteens. There are 95 criteria, 78 of them are compulsory, and 17 are bonus points.
The compulsory criteria are the minimum expected by restaurants, wherever they are in the world. However, the 17 bonus criteria are used not only to identified those keen to go the extra mile (and become bronze, silver, gold or ALL STAR) , but also those who will try to connect to the local ecosystem of food waste solutions providers, such as food rescue organisation, local animal farms, bio-digesting services, etc, to strive for Zero Food Waste to Landfill.
However, I can't stress enough the importance of training auditors to intelligently assess the compliance of the adopters, based on the local reality of the operations!
It is to me a good illustration that a so-called "micro" certification can be global, with a strong local component.
For me it is not an either “Think global, act local” or “Think local, act global” question. We need both. We need a global understanding, a global framework and globally accepted and transparent certification standards as any global challenge can only be addressed globally. The opposite is also true: We need local solutions to global challenges, more local supply chains and local networks of best practice actors to showcase that change is possible. The question for me is rather more, how to translate the necessity to change based on the global challenges to the day to day operations. This gets even more complicated the smaller the business is. The solution – derived out of many project in this area - is that we need to better understand and apply the way we humans learn to the way we teach, apply and implement any global standard. The boil it down to one point: We need to make it personal. The why is more important – at least in the beginning – than the how and what. This is true when we talk about large cooperations as well as small enterprises. Why do we do what we do, why is sustainability a success factor for our business and me privately. The answers could be: Because it is healthier, because it is more fun, because I can apply it at home as well. If we do inspire and create a better understanding of these very personal questions, we will create a local movement resulting in global results. If not, any sustainability system will stay a concept, any certification will not stay for long. Any successful best practice – let it be a destination, a tour operator or a hotel – has answered this question in the beginning. Of course, we then need standardized global systems to benchmark and report on in order to move on.
With the abundant availability of sustainability certifications these days and the often-mismatched communication, which comes with it, how can we expect guests to use certifications and standards as an influence on the choice they make? Sadly many most of the certification schemes, local as well as international, have missed out a clear B2C positioning with guests or travellers over the last year, with little market awareness being the result.
This therefore raises the question of what impact certifications really have. Often it seems that official standards or certifications replace the much-needed reporting – instead of showing progress and achievements, a badge substitutes in-depth communication and transparency. I still believe that a well-developed ESG strategy with advanced reporting paired with transparent communication is as good as a certification. The goals should be to showcase your progress – what has been achieved, how did your measure and how do you monitor progress. And an individually developed ESG strategy, with company specific targets and priorities automatically allows to integrate the local environment and its characteristics.
On the other hand, standardized frameworks provide a great tool for implementing change within a business. Staff, who have not worked on sustainability before, can achieve a sense of ownership and understanding of the initiatives. When working towards a common goal, i.e. the certification, staff can get motivated and engaged – the process can feel almost like a competition - who can implement criteria the best or the fastest? Gaining a seal of approval at the end can help everyone in the organization to understand their individual impact, while at the same time, it can nurture a sense of pride. Standards break down the very complex issue of sustainability, the criteria provide a step-by-step process to tackle ESG, while providing milestones to achieve.
Standardized frameworks are a great way to support hospitality businesses to implement ESG strategies and to get teams started on their journey. Their real impact however often cannot be measured: did guests choose the property because of the certification? Or did they book a hotel because it has a clear transparent way of communicating its ESG projects, goals, initiatives on their websites or through a publicly available report? Tricky to measure….
In order to grasp a vision for a preferable future, it might be useful to rewind to our past. According to Prof. Em. Conrad Lashley, the origins of tourism and hospitality lie in "hospitableness", or the human faculty to welcome and host strangers. At the origin of contemporary hospitality, our Latin mothers and fathers used to exchange visits in family networks, with multiple social purposes and value generation, from the experience of faraway places to relationships. Fast forward to the 2020's, a great divide might be observed between international chains with standardized formats, and increasingly so by proptech solutions and pervasive digitalization; versus local providers at micro-level, e.g. family owned Bed & Breakfast structures with a couple of rooms available, e.g. as in the Italian "agriturismo" phenomenon, or even www.airbnb.com managed rooms in private housing facilities, with families or single owners who de facto become service providers in a grey zone between informal economy and hospitality / tourism enterpreunership. Then, the question is, what format and what dimension or scale might be more attractive for the future? Reality might be, between the connection between the family dimension and the direct relationship with the territory, the hyperlocal synergies between humans and land translate in the most natural route to true sustainability. While global formats might ensure efficiency and effectiveness through scalability, cultural differences do and will increasingly play a role in determining longer term social sustainability profiles and performances of hospitality venues and businesses of tomorrow.
Certifications that I am familiar with that have the most flexibility are EarthCheck and ISO 14001. As management systems, they are not points-based checklists that many times allow a property to be doing well in one area, without a focus on other areas. They are beneficial for small properties, as well as large.
Whether or not hospitality companies are going to follow a certain standard has and will always depend on the answer to the question: "Whats in it for me?"
Currently, standard benefits focus on visibility, recognition and giving access to certain client groups. Their promise is a kind of sustainability guarantee stamp. However, with increasing understanding from the consumer side of what sustainability means and encompasses, standards might lose some of its appeal.
This is why, in my eyes, standards should focus on a different kind of promise. Especially those companies only starting their sustainability journeys search for orientation, guidance and tools. Standards can and should be a great asset for those lost in the jungle. As such, they should also advise on how to approach local measures, how to engage with stakeholders and understand impact factors. Standards have to have the flexibility those local approaches require. And most of them do already. Still, a bit less of "criteria" and more "how to" would be useful.
When it comes to the benefit of benchmark, there might be more companies shying away from it rather than opting for it. The idea of a global sustainable hospitality ranking might be a dream for some, but a nightmare for others.
With the growing demand for sustainability holiday offers, touristic enterprises are required to develop strategies that comply with future-proof guiding principles of eco-friendly tourism. Although several standardized frameworks have come to existence, such as certification systems and environmental programs, there is no one universal strategy for sustainable tourism yet. This is why standardized frameworks can only act as a supporting element on the path to green holiday offers. At the end of the day, each enterprise is responsible for identifying and implementing individual concepts and action plans based on their local circumstances, their size, their number of employees, the structure of their business, their financial capabilities etc. A proper and credible certification system can provide very useful guidelines and examples in order to identify these individual action plans.
This discussion strikes me more about choosing to comply with a broad set of criteria (attributes) versus a narrower wet than about local vs global standards. I mean that in two ways: even with differences in local priorities, the essential set of criteria to follow are truly universal, and the range of capacity to achieve higher levels of sustainability being limited by local infrastructure doesn't diminish the need to "do your best" regarding those essential and universal criteria. Water issues and waste management always stand at or near the top of attributies in this type of discussion. The quality of both water and waste, and the quantity of fresh, clean water avaialabe at specific locations vary more widely from place to place than many other attributes. But the imperative to strive for the greatest efficiency in your hotel for either is still an imperative no matter the range of potential for improvement. For example criterion D1.4 of the GSTC Industry Criteria for Hotels starts with reference to assessing water risk at individual properties, and you go from there to assign the degree of priority of that issue for your hotel...it will differ in Las Vegas versus Dublin. But the criterion is relevant to both.
Assessing risk and prioritizing attributes for each particular destination and each particular hotel is called for. But that doesn't mean any sustainability criteria should be ignored. In short, local conditions set priorities for action and continuous improvement approaches, but all universal criteria matter in all locations.
Size and structure clearly drive that risk assessment process which drives prioritization.
As in many things, I believe that also here extremes do not work. In thinking, the big picture is always necessary. Without global thinking there would be an enormous difference between the developed and the developing worlds, while, in the end, the planet faces the same set of grand challenges. On the other hand, planning actions only based on global considerations would miss the mark in many local communities with specific issues at hand. There is no "one size fits all" –solution.
Major multinational entities have better opportunities to employ global standards and have a positive impact on stakeholders compared to local or regional players. They should assume the responsibilities this position brings and accept to be held to a different standard that is not higher but covers a wider range of topics. Subsequently, the standards created and applied must allow adaptation to local situations without jeopardizing the purpose of standardization. The "gold standard" is a standard that allows a business to adopt a local goal and demonstrate how striving for this goal fulfills the criteria set. Otherwise, a meaningful purpose for standardization that leads to action could be lost.
The good old 'Think Global Act Local'? or is it 'Think Local, Act Global'?
It is clear that not one organization, business or nation can resolve the global climate or biodiversity challenges; 'Think global, act local' calls for concerted efforts, with the accumulation of local actions translating into global shared benefits.
'Think local, act global', on the other hand is represented by the global actions on sustainability issues (e.g. activists or businesses building on local strengths to activate, generate an impact via global actions).
In sustainable hospitality, it gets trickier. Hotels may decide to adopt a recognized global standard while still trying to ensure a local relevance which means acknowledging the local needs and requirements. One way forward is for hotel organizations to have a clear understanding of matters that are material to their organization, that is, identifying issues and risks that have financial, reputational and legal impacts. Usually this automatically includes matters of global nature such as climate change (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions) and biodiversity loss (e.g. food supply chain) as well as issues of local relevance such as recruitment (e.g. diversity, equity and inclusion) and health and safety (e.g. employee wellbeing).
In the complex world of sustainable hospitality, there is room for global standards as an opportunity to raise the bar on sustainability performance enabling for benchmarking performance and ensuring a recognition of efforts. There is also room for a more tailored and local-specific approach to tackle issues that are unique to a destination. This can be represented by the adoption of regional standards or micro-certification on a specific material issue.
We are all living in the Anthropocene where our collective actions have impacted and transformed our planet. The concept of Anthropocene is 'global by nature'. However, and as stated by Biermann et al. in an article published in 2016 in Global Environmental change:
“Using the Anthropocene lens must not mask the diversity of local and regional contexts and situations, nor the diversity and disparities in the conditions, contexts, and distribution of wealth, consumption and environmental impact across human societies”
This applies particularly well to the hospitality sector, global by nature with innumerable local linkages and intricacies – think and act, both local and global.
Reference: Biermann, F., Bai, X., Bondre, N. et al. (2016). Down to Earth: Contextualizing the Anthropocene. Global Environmental Change, 39, 341-350. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.11.004