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. 

SDG 14, Global Goals

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.