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

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 the past months, we presented all 17 SDGs and explained their connection to Green Key. Today we talk about the last goal, SDG 17!


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 a 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 17: "Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development"

Green Key’s global profile involves cooperation and partnerships between multiple stakeholders from the public, private and NGO sectors at various levels: At the local level between staff, guests, suppliers and the surrounding community and at the national and international level between NGOs, corporate partners, authorities and other partners involved in sustainable tourism. 

How does Green Key help to achieve goal 17?

  • Through Green Key's National Operators in 40 countries, Green Key encompasses a global network of sustainable tourism experts that share their experiences, knowledge and ideas within the programme
  • In most countries that run the Green Key programme, national juries composed of multiple stakeholders take the decision on the award which ensures a broad and independent verification of the award
  • All Green Key awarded establishments must establish an active collaboration with relevant local stakeholders to enhance the active role the establishment plays in creating environmental awareness in the local and in promoting environmentally friendly practices among their collaboration partners (criterion 1.6)
  • The programme enhances the partnership between the awarded establishments and the local community by:
    • actively supporting green activities or initiatives for social community development including, among others, education, health, sanitation and infrastructure (criterion 11.4)
    • offering the means for local small entrepreneurs to develop and sell sustainable products that are based on the area’s nature, history, and culture (criterion 11.5)
    • preventing conflicts between indigenous and local communities and tourists with the help of a code of conduct for activities in respective communities (criterion 11.6)
    • purchasing local and fair-trade services and goods

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

Commitment to the surrounding communities at Alaya Tulum

Alaya Tulum Hotel in Mexico shows a strong commitment to the surrounding communities by creating employment opportunities and by promoting sustainable development among the local region.

Local farm in Mexico.

Alaya Tulum participated in the Green Key Best Practice Competition 2017 organized earlier this year with the theme “partnership and local engagement for sustainable development”. In January 2017, the hotel established a partnership with a family business of one of the employees at the hotel. The business is a 3 hectare organic farm called ‘Lemons’ 150 km from Tulum and it provides produce exclusively for Alaya Tulum Hotel. Through its operation, the farm provides work for a family of 4 people.

The sustainable production entails a better way of using existing resources at the farm, it promotes recycling of nutrients and helps improve the soil.  Organic production is based on the integration of practices of tilling the field, which includes a great amount of labour. This generates employment in the same area or region and prevents leakage of foreign exchange in the procurement of external inputs.  

There are several benefits of organic farming, which include:

  • No use of chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers
  • The produce has a flavor, color and aroma of the highest quality
  • The produce contains more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants

The locally produced products also help in preventing global warming, as the transportation lengths are minimized and by purchasing produce from the farm, Alaya Tulum supports the local economy.

Through their established partnership, the farm delivers produce to the hotel 3 times a week. The produce and amounts (per month) include:

  • 2000 pieces of coconut
  • 200 parts of pineapple
  • 160 kg lemons
  • 640 kg oranges
  • 20 kg dragon fruit
  • 12 kg habanero chili

The goal of Alaya Tulum is to maintain the relationship with the family business and to start working with new suppliers in order to increase the variety of products and the number of deliveries to the hotel. The hotel also want to offer more new and healthy dishes on their menu. In addition to their existing partnership, the hotel also encourages the use of organic, fair trade- labelled, ecolabelled and locally produced products when purchasing.   

As local as it can be - artisan food at the Åland Islands

Anderssons Guest House & Bakery is one of the smallest Green Key awarded sites on the Åland Islands, Finland, and they won third place at the Green Key Best Practice Competition 2017.

Local artisan bread, hemvete

The operations at Anderssons Guest House & Bakery are run with great care for the environment. The site consists of a small guest house, bakery and café and the owner Annette has an excellent availability of high quality local foods, which helps her operate in a truly sustainable manner.

“The main ingredients in my bakery are local, like the flour and all dairy products. We have great foods of high quality on Åland Islands. The guests can feel that it’s genuine and many say that all local food on the Åland Islands tastes so good”, says Annette. One of her specialties is the hemvete (directly translated to home wheat), which is a traditional bread from Åland. This bread can be enjoyed in the bakery or by guests of the guest house for breakfast, and the flour for the bread comes from an organic farm just 1,5 km away. When Annette needs more flour, she can just pick up the phone and call Gunilla, the owner of the farm, and place an order. This means that the flour is totally fresh and it is ground in a traditional stone mill.

The cooperation benefits both the small guest house and the farm; “With our cooperation I know that I get high quality, real and genuine ingredients from just around the corner”, says Annette. Gunilla continues by adding “It’s nice that my flour becomes a really locally produced bread. I can buy Annette’s bread and taste it”.

Breakfast at the Guest House

The bread is so popular that visitors often first buy one and then return to buy a whole bunch before they leave the Åland Islands. At the end of the summer when Annette closes up for the season, people can come and buy even 20 hemvete at a time to keep in the freezer to have the delicious bread to eat later. Annette also cooperates with other local suppliers, like the local dairy cooperative ÅCA and the local mill Överängs.

The cooperation between two environmentalists to produce local, artisan food as a way of showing visitors and locals the local food culture and food history is the reason why Anderssons Guest House & Bakery won third place at the Best Practice Competition 2017.

Mon Arbre à Moi – A story of reforestation

The runner-up to the Green Key Best Practice Competition 2017, Hôtel Métropole Monte-Carlo, inspires with their determined initiative of reforestation.


In January 2017, Hôtel Métropole Monte-Carlo launched its project Mon Arbre à Moi – My Very Own Tree to reforest a hillside that had been burnt down by an act of arson. The hillside in question overlooks the town of Menton, which borders with the principality of Monaco. As an important number of the staff members live in Menton, the Green Committee at Hôtel Métropole Monte-Carlo decided to take action and get involved in an important cause for the area.

Mon Arbre à Moi is a significant symbolic initiative that was jointly crafted by the Metropole, the municipality of Menton and the Office National des Forêts (National Forests Office) involving partnerships between several actors. On event day, olive-tree seeds were given to the staff members´ children so that they, together, could plant the first new trees on the burned-out site. A local association, Les Ânes Maritimes, participated by lending their donkeys to help carry the jerry cans needed to water the trees.

The initiative is a long-term project uniting the participants annually on 21 March, celebrated as the International Day of Forests, to visit their trees, to water them and to see how they have grown. Once the trees start to produce olives, the project participants will be invited to harvest them. The olives will then be sent to a local olive oil producer, L´huile Saint Michel, and once produced the olive oil will be given to the guests at the Metropole. Guests will also have a chance to directly participate in the ongoing project by planting their own seeds and thereby help with the reforestation.

Mon Arbre à Moi proves that it is perfectly possible to be a luxury hotel while cultivating real ecological authenticity and take a stand for the environment. The initiative has helped nature rebuild itself and to recreate the hillside landscape of Menton, and as a long-term act for the planet, only recycled water is used to water the olive trees. The initiative has also been warmly welcomed by guests at the hotel and it has helped in raising awareness on the Metropole’s environmental pledge and green policy.

The reforestation initiative is a strong showcase of different stakeholders coming together and creating partnerships for a central environmental cause, and it is the reason Hôtel Métropole Monte-Carlo was awarded second place at the 2017 Green Key Best Practice Competition.