Green Key and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals: SDG #14

Green Key is a leading standard of excellence in the field of sustainable tourism, guiding tourism establishments to do their part in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN. In our new feature series we will present each of the 17 SDGs and explain their connection to Green Key. 


In 2015, the UN member states adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to guide governments, the private sector and civil society in transforming our world into safer, fairer and more livable place.   

Sustainability lies at the heart of Green Key, which is why the programme inherently contributes to all of the 17 goals. Today, we talk about Goal 14: "Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development".

Coastal areas receive the highest percentage of tourist arrivals. If not managed sustainably, the tourism industry has detrimental effects on marine ecosystems. At the same time, tourism puts its own base at risk, because clean beaches, thriving marine ecosystems like coral reefs or mangrove forests as well as healthy populations of marine wildlife often are the reason for tourists to choose certain destinations. 

Tourism establishment can play an important role in the protection of the marine environment if they ensure proper waste and wastewater management, reduce the use of toxic chemicals that could potentially enter the water cycle, and refrain from the use of endangered seafood but instead using products from sustainable sources. 

How does Green Key help to achieve goal 14?

  • In Green Key awarded establishments all wastewater must be treated in accordance with national and local regulations (criterion 4.9). The establishment can either be connected to an existing public sewage system or have the wastewater treated in an own sewage treatment plant.
  • To lower the input of chemicals into the water cycle, the use of hazardous chemicals in cleaning products must be minimised (criterion 5.2)
  • Tourism establishments that are Green Key awarded need to ensure the correct collection, storage and disposal of waste (category 6 of the criteria)
  • Green Key highly encourages their awarded establishments not to purchase endangered fish and seafood (criterion 8.3)
  • If there are Blue Flag awarded beaches, marinas or boating tourism operators nearby, the establishment should inform their guests about them. The Blue Flag is an environmental award which is managed by the same organisation as Green Key, the Foundation for Environmental Education

A document describing Green Key’s overall contribution to all 17 Sustainable Development Goals can be downloaded here.


The Hotel sector must cut Carbon Footprint by 90% to meet 2-degree climate threshold

The Hotel Global Decarbonisation Report by the International Tourism Partnership (ITP) states that the hotel sector must reduce its carbon footprint by 90% by 2050 in order to keep global warming below the 2-degree threshold agreed upon in the Paris Agreement.  

The Report by Greenview, commissioned by ITP, was published earlier in November, just before the start of COP23 (the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change) taking place in Bonn, Germany, where the convening parties will further discuss how to meet the Paris Climate Agreement agreed upon at COP21.  The Report reveals the huge contribution hotels must make to help in the fight against climate change.

In order to manage the global increase in tourism over the coming decades, the hotel industry must reduce its absolute carbon emissions by 66% by 2030 and 90% by 2050, the Report states. The Hotel Global Decarbonisation Report was published to complement the September launch of ITP’s 4 Goals for 2030, which align the hotel sector’s sustainable activity with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also called the Global Goals. The ITP Goals focus on Carbon, Water, Youth Employment and Human Rights, which are core sustainability issues impacting responsible hospitality providers globally, and the goals are a carefully constructed and practically achievable response to these issues.

The threshold of 2 degrees is a quantifiable “science-based target”, which forms the basis of ITP’s Goal on Carbon:

To drive sustainable growth for the future, ITP members embrace the ambition of science-based targets* and encourage the wider industry to join their collaboration to develop carbon reductions at scale.

Fran Hughes, the Director of ITP, said at the announcement of the Report: “These figures are significant, but we believe they are achievable. They are representative of the level of reduction the whole hotel sector needs to make in order to decouple its growth, from growth in emissions. The reductions individual companies need to make may vary, dependent on where they are located and their infrastructure. That’s why we’re encouraging hotels to develop their own science-based target.

“The technology exists today to fully decarbonise the sector. Solving the issue of climate change becomes how to accelerate the solutions which are currently available. To do so, hotel industry leaders will need to support an evolution of thought and approach to make it happen through carbon pricing and how projects are financed.

“ITP’s members support our vision and our four ITP Goals which tackle carbon, water, youth unemployment and human rights. We are supporting our members with research and best practice sharing to build their capacity to develop science-based targets. Going forward we want to explore opportunities to collaborate where we can deliver carbon reductions at scale.”

Green Key awarded Radisson Blu Frankfurt is mentioned as a case study in the Report. 

Green Key awarded Radisson Blu Frankfurt is mentioned as a case study in the Report. 

Founder of Greenview, Eric Ricaurte, added:

“We all share one planetary KPI: 2-degree temperature rise or less. Now translating that to each industry and company, we can shift focus toward the opportunities to decarbonise while protecting what travellers value. No other sector like tourism will play a role in literally shaping the future of our world.”


* A Science-Based Target is one adopted by a company to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is considered “science-based” if it is in line with the level of decarbonisation required to keep global temperature increase below 2°C. It is based in scientific research and evidence.

Source and Pictures: International Tourism Partnership

Green Key Director Finn Bolding Thomsen interviewed for Eventplanner TV

The episode with an interview with Green Key International Director Finn Bolding Thomsen has aired today, on 13 November.

                                                                 Click on the image to play the full interview.

                                                                 Click on the image to play the full interview.

In August this year, Green Key and Eventplanner partnered up in order to promote sustainable event venues all over the world. Green practices, like reducing the environmental footprint of conferences, trade fairs and other events, are becoming increasingly important in the event industry, highlighting the importance and possibilities of the partnership.

Event venues can obtain the Green Key award by complying with easily understandable but strict criteria covering areas of environmental management, social responsibility and raising awareness on sustainability. To obtain the award, the applicant has to send in the application and have an onsite audit, and the desicion is always third-party verified. The award is received for one year at a time.

Having a Green Key award indicates that conference facilities and hotels have high sustainability standards, providing a recognizable symbol for event planners. As the CSR policies of event planners often include using sustainably managed event venues and accommodations, the cooperation between Green Key and Eventplanner facilitates the work of these organisers. 

The partnership now makes it easy to identify environmentally responsible venues by using Eventplanner’s venue search engine. Green Key regularly provides a list of its awarded establishments, and the venues are highlighted on Eventplanner’s websites with the Green Key logo., and are the largest communities for eventplanners in Belgium, The Netherlands and the World, providing not only a search engine for venues and organisers, but also publishing news, tips and trends in the event industry.  

Global Action Days celebrated throughout the FEE network

The Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) is once again celebrating Global Action Days – a weeklong showcase of the amazing work carried out by FEE members.

The day culminates today, on 10 November, when FEE Head Office personnel across the five FEE programmes spend the day working with our social media platforms, sharing and promoting all of the positive actions you have organized, promoted and participated in throughout the year. The Global Action Days are aimed at raising awareness and achieving recognition on the international stage for our members and the invaluable work that you all do on a daily basis.

Lesley Jones, our President, has the following message:

“We’re delighted to be celebrating Global Actions Days and raising awareness of the positive action that is taking place around the world to create a more sustainable society.  

We’re proud to work with members in 73 countries – reaching out across the globe to thousands of businesses and organisations, as well as millions of students. The commitment and innovation of those involved in FEE programmes can’t be underestimated and deserves to be showcased on the global stage.

Hundreds of stories have already been shared – from students in Turkey using insects to protect forests, to a Latvian holiday park making the switch to locally sourced energy. I’d encourage everyone to make the most of this opportunity and take part in Global Action Days; promote positive action, share learning with international partners and help inspire the rest of the world.

Finally, on behalf of FEE, I’d like to thank our members, partners and programme participants. Thank you for everything that you do to bring about positive change. By working together, we can ensure a sustainable world for us, our children and future generations.”

Green Key International is proud of the amazing work and great initiatives that our awarded establishments and National Operators carry out year-round across the globe! Best practice stories from our network are shared on a continual basis in our news and on our social media channels, and we encourage all awarded sites and National Operators to share your green initiatives, best practices and events promoting sustainability, so that we can share your inspirational stories with our global network not only during Global Action Days, but throughout the year.

The official Global Action Days page where all the actions will be shared can be found on Facebook. Have a look at the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages of all the FEE programmes or follow the hashtags #FEEGAD #globalactiondays to see all the shared stories! 

Green Key present at the international tourism fair, World Travel Market

Green Key International Director, Finn Bolding Thomsen, is attending the World Travel Market, one of the largest tourism fairs globally taking place in London (England) on 6-8 November 2017.


During the World Travel Market, there is a range of events and presentations dedicated to Responsible Tourism. The presentations of main interest for Green Key includes debates about the major environmental challenges: carbon and water, the next steps for certification schemes, the priorities for responsible tourism in the coming five years, how tourism businesses can embrace the UN Sustainable Development Goals, how to engage travellers and holidaymakers, how to market sustainable tourism, etc.

In the discussion about the main priorities for responsible tourism in the coming five years, the main focus areas identified were environmental responsibility (lower carbon emissions, good waste- and water management, etc.) as well as social responsibility (attention to vulnerable groups, inclusive tourism, etc.). In the discussion about certification schemes, the importance of staying focused in order to make certification relevant and affordance for the hospitality sector was highlighted. In the debate about engaging travellers, the importance of story-telling and personalised messages were emphasised.

During the World Travel Market, Green Key International also had a range of meetings with partners and other stakeholders relevant for Green Key, including researchers, consultants, major tour operators, leading hotel chains, tourism organisations, etc. 

In addition, World Responsible Tourism Day is celebrated on the last day of the fair, on 8 November and the Global Responsible Tourism Awards were once again handed out. As 2017 has been designated as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, the participants were challenged to report their progress against one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. To learn more about the Awards, visit WTM Responsible Tourism Awards 2017. This year's awards were given for the categories Best for Accommodation, Best for Carbon Reduction, Best for Communication, Best Community Initiative, Best for Poverty Reduction and Best Tour Operator. Download the 'Leaders in Responsible Tourism Report' and see all the Winners here


Exquisite boutique hotel Carrubba Tivat receives first Green Key Award in Montenegro

It is with great pleasure and a true honour to officially announce Hotel Carrubba Tivat as the first Green Key awarded hotel in Montenegro! 


Complying with the Green Key criteria for what is a traditional stone building dated from the 19th century could have been a challenge but the hotel's amazing team in charge of researching and implementing the programme proved the assumption wrong.

The entire staff put their minds, hearts and souls into finding ways of improving the hotel’s impact on the environment. 

The work includes turning the water valves down and saving on consumption, using old sheets for rags, making compost for the garden from coffee grains, heating water with solar panels, and using low power consuming bulbs for lighting wherever possible!

At the reception, the eco-friendly spirit of the hotel has its essence. Head of Reception “Marina” will offer wonderful bike rides along the coast and show hiking trails starting directly from the hotel. Green Key information will be passed on if questions arise and community events will be offered when they occur.

In the Kitchen, the chef prioritizes seasonal local products for the menu and these can always be savoured with Montenegro’s best wines.

The simple common sense was used very effectively on many occasions and this combined with some real practical solutions gave the momentum so the hotel could achieve their goals and ultimately and deservedly receive the Green Key Status and Award.

All is there, the staff and the location, the understanding of global issues and the enthusiasm, the prestige and the caring. We are proud to have Hotel Carrubba Tivat as new member of Green Key!

Green Key and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals: SDG #13

Green Key is a leading standard of excellence in the field of sustainable tourism, guiding tourism establishments to do their part in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN. In our new feature series we will present each of the 17 SDGs and explain their connection to Green Key. 


In 2015, the UN member states adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to guide governments, the private sector and civil society in transforming our world into safer, fairer and more livable place.   

Sustainability lies at the heart of Green Key, which is why the programme inherently contributes to all of the 17 goals. Today, we talk about Goal 13: "Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts".

According to the UN "Planetary warming continued in 2016, setting a new record of about 1.1 degrees Centigrade above the preindustrial period, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2016. "

Tourism is one of the industries that is most sensitive to climate change as the tourist experience in most cases depends on steady climate conditions which for example guarantee snow for winter sports or pleasant weather at beach holiday destinations. In addition, the increase of extreme weather phenomena such as hurricanes might influence tourists decisions and travel patterns and will disadvantage the tourism industry in affected countries. On the other hand, tourism itself is contributing to climate change, mainly through greenhouse gas emissions generated through transportation. 

How does Green Key help to achieve Goal 13?

Green Key integrates climate change measures into its criteria to help tourism establishments lower their greenhouse gas emissions:

  • Awarded establishments are encouraged to measure their C02 footprint with Green Key's free carbon footprint tool (criterion 1.7)
  • All awarded establishments have to register their energy use at least once a month (criterion 7.1)
  • 75% of all light bulbs have to be energy efficient (criterion 7.3),
  • The use of energy-efficient electronic equipment and devices in the rooms (criteria 7.8, 7.13 & 7.17) and offices (7.27) is required. 
  • The tourism establishments have to maintain their electronic appliances on a regular basis to ensure energy efficient operation (criteria 7.4, 7.5, 7.6 & 7.14)
  • Electronic appliances are managed in an energy-efficient way, e.g. through automatic switch-offs or seasonal adjustments (criteria 7.2, 7.9, 7.10, 7.11, 7.18, 7.19, 7.20, 7.22, 7.26 & 7.28)
  • Proper insulation of the buildings and equipment reduces the energy consumption (criterion 7.7, 7.12, 7.24 & 7.25) 
  • Green Key awarded establishments are encouraged to use eco-certified or renewable energies (criterion 7.16)

Green Key also improves education and awareness-raising in regard to climate change among guests, staff and suppliers: 

  • Information about energy saving initiatives of the establishment must be available for guests (criterion 3.7) and they should be encouraged to participate in the initiatives (criterion 3.4)
  • The staff must be well-trained about the environmental initiatives of the awarded establishment (criteria 2.1 & 2.3)
  • Suppliers and third-party businesses are involved in the environmental initiatives of the awarded establishment and encouraged to operate in the spirit of Green Key (criteria 13.3 & 13.5) 

In addition, Green Key encourages the use of sustainable transportation:

  • The awarded establishment must be able to inform guests about local public transportation systems, shuttle bus or cycling/walking alternatives (criterion 3.6)
  • The establishment must also be able to inform guests about the nearest place to rent bikes (criterion 12.2) or offer rental bikes themselves (criterion 12.3)
  • It is recommended within the Green Key criteria to encourage the staff to use public transportation from and to the establishment (criterion 13.10)

A document describing Green Key’s overall contribution to all 17 Sustainable Development Goals can be downloaded here.

Green Key for hotels promoted during the Qatar Green Building Conference

During the Qatar Green Building Conference, a workshop dedicated to Green Key for interested hotels in Qatar was held on 31 October 2017.

W Doha Oct 2013  (12).jpg

W Doha Hotel & Residences has had the Green Key award since 2013. In June 2017, Qatar Green Building Council became an associate member of the Foundation for Environmental Education and took over the management of Green Key in Qatar.

The Green Key workshop on 31 October 2017 during the Qatar Green Building Conference will be the first opportunity for other hotels in Qatar to know about Green Key in Qatar under the management of Qatar Green Building Council.

Meshal al-Shamari, director of Qatar Green Building Council, says to Gulf Times: “We will be launching a dedicated session for hospitality during the conference. The Green Key programme aims to certify green hotels in Qatar. We are doing the first workshop in the conference, and we have plenty of hotels lined up at the conference and attending the workshop.”

Green Key at the Lanzarote Summit about Sustainable Tourism

From 19-20 October 2017 the world's leading experts in sustainable tourism from America and Europe gathered in Lanzarote (Spain) to discuss and exchange ideas about the latest trends in sustainable tourism.


The international conference with the title "Sustainability: A key factor of competitiveness in the tourism industry" took place on the island of Lanzarote, where the World Charter on Sustainable Tourism +20 was was adopted at the first World Conference on Sustainable Tourism  in 1995. 22 years later, in the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, sustainable tourism experts from all around the world met again in Lanzarote to discuss the progress made in sustainable tourism and to give a perspective for the future of the industry. Green Key attended the conference to follow the latest discussions in sustainable tourism. Among the panellists were representatives from World Tourism Organization, UNESCO, Global Sustainable Tourism Council, TUI Travel, Tripadvisor, Responsible Tourism Institute as well as other practitioners from the tourism industry and representatives from different governmental tourism agencies in Spain. 

Main areas of discussion where the tourism industry's perspective on sustainability, the marketing of sustainability, innovation and technology in sustainable tourism, models of the industry and benefits for the local community and the tourism industry and its relation to the 17 SDGs. Among the key factors of sustainable development for the tourism industry identified at the conference were multi-stakeholder involvement, the estimation of the value of tourism compared to competing, less sustainable industries, as well as making sustainability tangible for tourists by marketing it as a quality attribute. Certification and award programmes like Green Key were highlighted as effective tools for the tourism industry to achieve their sustainability goals. 

Read more about the conference here.