Green Key and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals: SDG #12

Green Key is a leading standard of excellence in the field of sustainable tourism, guiding tourism establishments in doing 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 12: "Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns".        

According to the UN "Achieving Goal 12 requires a strong national framework for sustainable consumption and production that is integrated into national and sectoral plans, sustainable business practices and consumer behaviour, together with adherence to international norms on the management of hazardous chemicals and wastes."

How does Green Key help to achieve Goal 12?

Green Key helps both tourism establishments and their guests to make more sustainable consumption decisions:

Tourism establishments

  • One target of Goal 12 is to "achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources by 2030". Green Key makes high demands on its awarded sites regarding the management of resources such as water, energy and food. To name a few:

- Water-saving devices (criteria 4.4, 4.5 & 4.6) and energy-saving light bulbs (criterion 7.3) are a must in all awarded establishments.

- The buildings and the equipment have to be managed in such a way as to reduce the consumption of electricity and heat to a maximum. This includes e.g proper insulation (criteria 7.12, 7.24 & 7.25) or use of sensors for automatic switch-offs (criterion 7.11, 7.19, 7.22 & 7.26).

- For the effective monitoring of the use of resources, separate water and electricity metres are being recommended in the criteria (criteria 4.11 & 7.21).

  • Food waste is another issue that is being addressed in connection to Goal 12. Green Key encourages their establishments to keep records of their food waste and to have a waste reduction plan in place (criterion 8.4). Awarded sites are furthermore encouraged to compost their organic waste (criterion 6.17).
  • The environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes as defined in the targets of Goal 12 are also an integral part of the Green Key criteria. The programme has a whole category of criteria dealing with the responsible management and reduction of waste (category 6) and different criteria that deal with the responsible handling of chemicals (criteria 5.2, 5.3, 5.6, 5.7, 6.7&6.8). 
  • Green Key awarded establishments are also encouraged to inform their suppliers and third-party businesses to operate in line with Green Key's criteria (criteria 13.3&13.5).

Tourists and guests

  • Green Key is a guidepost in sustainable consumption, as it highlights tourism establishments that adhere to strict environmental and CSR criteria. 
  • Thanks to the cooperation with several online travel agencies customers can easily find Green Key awarded establishments on different booking websites. 
  • Not only does Green Key help consumers to identify sustainable tourism establishments, but awarded establishments also inform them about sustainable practices during their stay (category 3 of Green Key's criteria). 

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