From a basement to the World - The story of Green Key

One of the founders of Green Key, HORESTA (Association for the hotel, restaurant and tourism industry in Denmark), has prepared an overview of the development of Green Key from a Danish initiative in 1994 to a successful international programme today.

The publication describes the development of Green Key in Denmark from an idea based on the philosophy of the Blue Flag programme for beaches and marinas to a programme for hotels and later also for other categories. Green Key was launched in Denmark in 1994 with criteria focusing on environmental management as well as training and awareness raising. In Denmark, the hosting of the international climate conference (COP15) meant a big growth in the programme.

Green Key became an international programme, when the concept was taken up in France in 1998 and exported by HORESTA to Greenland, Sweden and Estonia from 2000. In 2002, the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) became the international manager of the Green Key programme enabling FEE's national member organisations to implement/run Green Key. An International Steering Committee consisting of members of the founders/owners and of FEE was established to be in charge of the political development of the programme.

In 2009, establishments in 17 countries had joined the programme. From 2010, Green Key entered collaboration agreements with Rezidor Hotel Group and later also Starwood Hotel Group meaning that establishments in countries without FEE member organisations could also join Green Key. From 2014, Green Key entered cooperation with SGS (the world’s largest auditing company) supporting Green Key with the onsite audits. These initiatives meant a fast growth in participating establishments, so that today more than 2,370 establishments in 52 countries have the Green Key award.

The criteria have been regularly revised/updated and new criteria take effect in 2016. The new criteria include CSR criteria, and the new criteria for hotels and hostels have been recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC).

Green Key International would like to thank HORESTA for developing this great document describing the history of the programme. The full document can be downloaded here: “From a basement to the World – The story of Green Key”.