Green Key and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals: SDG #6

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 6: "Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all"

Tourism can be a major factor in the water consumption of a region and even of a whole country. Water is used in the bathrooms of tourism accommodations, in the kitchens, for swimming pools and spa areas, for washing and cleaning and for irrigating gardens and parks. To lower the water footprint of tourism establishments, it is both important to use latest water saving technologies and solutions, as well as to educate the staff and guests about how to save water. 

How does Green Key help to achieve Goal 6?

Many of Green Key's criteria deal with the reduction of the consumption of water and the protection of water-related ecosystems as well as freshwater sources:

  • Green Key Key has a whole category of criteria dealing with practices that reduce the consumption of water (see category 4 in our criteria documents). These include adjusting the water flow in taps and showers, using devices with a lower water consumption and regularly checking for leaks. 
  • To protect water-related ecosystems and to prevent the pollution of drinking water sources all Green Key awarded establishments either have to be connected to an existing public sewage system or have to have an own wastewater treatment system on-site (criterion 4.9).
  • Furthermore, cleaning products have to be environmentally sound (criterion 5.2 and 5.6)
  • The programme has also strict guidelines when it comes to the storage and handling of hazardous waste that could potentially harm the environment (criterion 6.7 and 6.8)
  • To reduce the water consumption in the garden and park areas of Green Key awarded establishments, smart watering systems have to be implemented (criterion 10.3), and it is encouraged to collect and use rainwater (criterion 10.5). In addition, the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers is not allowed.
  • Green Key believes that the education of staff is one main factor in reducing the water consumption in a tourism establishment. All staff members have to be aware of the establishment's water saving initiatives (criterion 2.4) and the housekeeping staff must be aware of and implement the procedures regarding the towel and sheet reuse (criterion 2.5)
  • Next to informing the staff about the water saving initiatives, Green Key awarded establishments also have to inform and involve their guests (criterion 3.4). Information about water saving must be visible for every guest (criterion 3.7). There must be also signs in the rooms informing guests that sheets and/or towels will only be changed upon request (criterion 5.1)
  • Green Key awarded establishments are also encouraged to actively supports green activities or initiatives for social community development including, among others, sanitation (criterion 11.4)
  • To help tourism establishments to measure their water footprint, Green Key is offering a free calculation tool on it's website 

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