Green Key’s International Steering Committee has been established due to the decision in 2002 to create a cooperation between the Green Key founders/owners and the current international administrator of the programme. The Steering Committee meets twice a year to discuss and decide on the new developments in the Green Key programme, and the latest meeting was held on 11 April 2018.
The Green Key programme was founded in Denmark in 1994 by HORESTA (Association for the hotel, restaurant and tourism industry in Denmark), the Danish Outdoor Council and the Association of Danish Tourism Executives.
Green Key was developed based on the philosophy of the Blue Flag programme for beaches and marinas to a programme for hotels and later also for other categories. Already from the launch in 1994, the programme had 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 to Greenland, Sweden and Estonia from 2000. In 2002, the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) became the international administrator of the Green Key programme enabling FEE's national member organisations to implement/run Green Key. At the same time, the International Steering Committee 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 (today Radisson Hotel Group) and later also Starwood Hotel Group (today Marriott Hotel Group) meaning that establishments in countries without FEE member organisations could also join Green Key.
From 2014, Green Key entered a cooperation with SGS (the world’s largest auditing company) supporting Green Key with the onsite audits. The criteria have been regularly revised/updated and the current criteria recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council took effect in 2016. These initiatives meant a fast growth in participating establishments, so that today more than 2,800 establishments in 57 countries have the Green Key award.
HORESTA has developed a document describing the history of the programme that can be downloaded here: “From a basement to the World – The story of Green Key”.