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Int’l Tourism Partnership Sets First Industry-Wide Global Commitment to SDGs, Sustainability

Image credit: Oliver Wendel

The Sustainable Development Goals seem to be on everyone’s mind as of late, with new initiatives and reports related to the 2030 Agenda turning up almost daily. Just last week, GRI announced that it was developing a common framework for measuring and reporting business progress and impacts on the SDGs and the University of Cambridge Institute of Sustainable Leadership released a report highlighting the benefits businesses can reap by delivering on the SDG agenda.

Now, the International Tourism Partnership (ITP) has made its first-ever industry-wide global commitment to sustainability. The organization and its members revealed late last week the four SDG-aligned goals as the industry reference point to drive progress towards creating a safer, fairer and more sustainable future. The goals focus on the most pressing issues currently impacting responsible hospitality providers around the world: youth employment, carbon, water and human rights.

“For 25 years, the hotel industry under ITP’s leadership has advanced sustainable tourism; developing tools and resources for hotels and lodgings around the world, sharing knowledge and working together for a more responsible future,” said Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNTWO). “ITP’s Goals are the next step to ensure continued sustainable development in our sector, setting clear aims for 2030 and bringing the hotel sector together to align with the Global Goals.”

ITP is a global industry organization, bringing together the world’s largest hotel companies responsible for over 25,000 hotels, in an alliance focused on a single ambition: to lead the industry through example with clear and quantifiable commitments to sustainability. The group’s most recent announcement coincides with the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, which calls on the industry to coordinate to tackle issues and share best practice.

“This cross-industry alignment to a single set of Goals is a fantastic achievement for the International Tourism Partnership. It is also a reflection of the increasing importance that the hospitality industry attaches to sustainability issues. As we move into the second half of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, business leaders have put competition to one side to create an ambitious vision for the future and a rallying call to the whole industry. By working together, I feel certain that these businesses will create a more sustainable future for the entire hospitality industry,” said Fran Hughes, Director of ITP.

The four agreed industry goals were constructed in response to the core sustainability issues impacting the global hospitality industry:

Youth Employment

With more than 71 million young people (15 to 24) looking for work and 156 million young workers living in poverty worldwide, the hospitality industry is well poised to offer work and career development options to young people, with a growth rate of four percent each year.

ITP members aim to impact one million people under the age of 25 through their employability programs by 2030. ITP also encourages participation in the Youth Career Initiative (YCI), created by the industry to bridge the gap between youth unemployment and a poor talent pipeline for hotels to recruitment. To date, there have been more than 3,000 YCI graduates across 14 countries, with an 85 percent success rate of employment or returning to education.

Carbon

The hotel industry currently accounts for around one percent of global CO2 emissions, a number that is set to increase as the industry continues to grow. In order to stay within the 2˚C threshold agreed at COP21, hospitality must reduce its absolute carbon emissions by 66 percent by 2030 and 90 percent by 2050.

ITP encourages members and the wider industry to adopt science-based targets, as well as reporting through the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI). The initiative provides a common methodology for measuring and reporting on the carbon footprint of a hotel stay or meeting.

Water

In many regions of the world, water consumption per guest in hotels greatly exceeds that of the local population, requiring an industry-wide response that encourages responsible water use and consumption.

To improve responsible resource consumption across the industry, ITP members have committed to embed water stewardship programs across their hotel portfolios as a means of reducing the number of people affected by water scarcity. Members also support improved water use efficiency, sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity.

Human Rights

Human trafficking and human rights abuses are hot button issues for the hotel industry and ITP members have outlined four key goals to improve human rights across the industry:

  • Continue to raise awareness of human rights risks
  • Embed human rights into corporate governance requirements
  • Work to address human rights risks in the labor supply chain, including the elimination of fees charged to workers to secure employment
  • Identify ways to address human rights risks during the development and construction phase of hotels

“ITP believes that the hotel industry can be a force for good and make a positive contribution to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goas and to the COP21 climate agreements. Our vision for 2030 is for sustainable growth and a fairer future for all. We understand that bigger impacts can be achieved faster through the industry working together at scale; for this reason, we invite other hotel companies to join with us in our commitment to these four critical goals,” said Wolfgang M. Neumann, Governing Council Chair of ITP. 


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