25th September is the Global Day of Action to #Act4SDGs, bringing together individuals and businesses from every corner of the world to work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are 17 global goals developed by the United Nations for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, embracing a wide range of environmental, social and economic issues. The 17 goals with their 169 associated targets aim to connect business strategies to global priorities for people and planet.
What do the goals mean for the Hospitality Industry?
In 2015, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) translated the goals into actions for the tourism sector. UNWTO noted three goals which best relate to this sector – 8: inclusive and sustainable economic growth; 12: sustainable consumption and production (SCP); and 14: the sustainable use of oceans and marine resources.
In 2017 the International Tourism Partnership (ITP) launched a set of goals which align with the SDGs. These address 4 topics including Youth employment, Carbon, Water and Human Rights. These goals send a clear call to action to the wider industry to use the SDGs as a focal point to drive responsible business in hospitality.
2017 was the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development – #travelenjoyrespect. This focus (designated by the UN) aimed to support a change in policies, business practices and consumer behaviours towards a more sustainable tourism sector that can positively contribute to the SDGs.
What are the challenges with implementation of the SDGs?
The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership identified the following:
1) Businesses still need a compelling business narrative and systematic approach to integrate SDGs into business operations.
2) Currently SDGs are being cherry-picked for easy wins; however all goals should be holistically integrated in to a business approach in order to be effective (Towards a Sustainable Company, 2017).
They also highlighted the significant growth opportunities associated with implementing the SDGs and how failing to do so would undermine business continuity and stability.
Hospitality businesses are starting to integrate the SDGs into their most recent strategies; however there is still no concise, consistent and comparable way to track & monitor their progress in achieving the goals. The SDGs Compass was developed in 2018 to support companies in aligning strategies and measuring and managing their contribution.
Achieving the SDG agenda requires a clear implementation framework, adequate financing and investment in technology, infrastructure and human resources from hospitality businesses.
Considerate Hoteliers will be releasing a four-part toolkit to our members over the coming months, to offer practical advice and guidance for implementing and monitoring actions to positively impact the SDGs within a hospitality business.