ARE YOU EARTHCHECKED?
This National Earth Day, it’s important to take some time out to think about how we can make small changes to our sustainability agenda that collectively have the power to Change Worlds. One such change is to make sure that your business is EarthChecked: to find out more about what this means and how PUREists can get involved, we caught up with EarthCheck’s Vice President, Andre Russ.
Tell us who you are and what EarthCheck is all about?
EarthCheck is an award-winning international scientific benchmarking, certification and advisory group for travel and tourism. Since 1987, we have helped deliver clean, safe, prosperous and healthy destinations for travellers to visit, live, work and play. We believe that what’s good for the planet is also good for business.
Which comes first – sustainability or profit?
Sustainability and profit should not be mutually exclusive goals. The EarthCheck program is built on the principles of Agenda 21, which remains a global commitment of the need to achieve more sustainable and responsible development. Our research demonstrates that sustainable and smart business practices help improve the bottom line and will lead to a stronger top line performance.
In our experience, leading companies now recognise the need to link their sustainability strategy to critical business activities. Sustainability in 2016 is about reducing supply-chain risk, maintaining business continuity, the right to operate in resource stressed communities, cost efficient and responsible energy and water use, and ultimately protecting brand value and market reputation. Improved business performance, increased profits and sustainable practice should go hand in hand.
Who is your typical client?
EarthCheck works across 32 different sectors of the tourism industry, from hotels to convention centres, golf courses and entire destinations.
How can exhibitors can get involved?
Every company sees sustainability with a different set of drivers and challenges.
We recognise that when EarthCheck talks to operators we need to both listen to their concerns and calm the discussion down to focus on actions and outcomes that managers and asset owners can both relate to and understand. The concept of sustainability has many different interpretations. At the end of the day, the aim is to help operators to address the operational challenges that they are facing in a more sustainable way. Discussion generally starts with a focus on:
- Improving business performance, lowering costs, seeking efficiency gains and improved asset management
- Smarter technology options
- Risk management across their operation
- Systems level thinking including energy efficiency and reduced waste
- Better understanding about meeting the expectations of customers, local communities, shareholders and staff
- Responsible supply chain management and procurement
- Effective governance and reporting
The biggest challenge that remains is convincing management that sustainability is now a core business principle, it is not an optional add-on.
How important is it for Private Travel Designers to embrace sustainable practices as a mechanism to stimulate broader understanding and engagement?
“Places that people want to visit and live-and that are sustainable – do not happen by chance. They are a product of visionary thinking and commitment by corporate investors, developers and civic leaders.” – The Egan Review UK 2004
Our work with leading communities and corporate groups across the world demonstrates that the best outcomes are achieved when you have both bottom-up (staff, community and SMEs) and top-down (big government and corporate) support for sustainability initiatives.
Sometimes sustainability initiatives can be introduced and supported by integrated resorts or other key infrastructure such as airports, convention centres and urban precincts who have the capacity to build sustainability outcomes into their forward planning. Sometimes ‘big picture thinking’ is needed.
Do you have any great examples of how a hotel or company has integrated EarthCheck principles?
I’ve just literally come back from visiting the team today at Alila Villas Uluwatu…they have recently removed all plastic bottles. They’re also very excited about a soon to be launched zero waste initiative…watch this space!
What’s the future for EarthCheck? Where would you like to see the company in 5 years’ time?
We are currently serving clients in 70 countries across six languages with six million conscious travellers engaged each week. We’re on track to steadily increase this over the next two to three years. Thai and Bahasa Indonesia will soon follow and we hope to positively impact more communities as we expand further into the Americas, Europe and Asia.
Ready to commit to a more sustainable future? Head to EarthCheck to see how you can start taking steps in the right direction.