How to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals

In order to create a prosperous world for all by 2030, to end poverty and to save our planet, 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) were developed by World Governments in 2016. These 17 goals focus on all key elements are essential for creating a sustainable world. Did you know tourism plays a huge part in achieving these goals? Tourism businesses can take advantage of the world agenda and SDGs by becoming a front runner in sustainable tourism.

Are you a sustainable tour operator or are working on becoming one? This blog explains how your business can contribute to the SDG’s and contribute to the worlds sustainable development agenda!

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The SGDs in your business strategy

The SDGs can be framed as an overarching framework in business strategies when connected to sustainable operations and strategies. You can use the SDG’s as guidance for developing a more sustainable tourism company with operations that make a positive impact on the world. Let me explain you how to do so with a few examples.

No poverty (Goal 1)

It’s no secret that tourism is essential for many economies of tourism destinations as it creates employment in hotels, restaurants and many other sectors. However, many people are still unemployed or living under the equivalent amount of $2US per day. The tourism industry has the chance to contribute to the wellbeing of this large group.

With your business you can contribute to fighting poverty by recruiting, training and employing local community members and integrating them into your tourism value chain. There are endless opportunities of working together and by supporting them to work sustainably, you are helping someone else build a future.

Gender equality (Goal 5)

Unfortunately, there is still a high level of gender inequality in the tourism industry where women and girls suffer discrimination and violence. Gender equality is a fundamental human right and everyone should be treated the same. Only by creating similar opportunities for both sexes, will the tourism industry become truly sustainable.

For tourism businesses, it is important that women are given the same opportunities as men and that they are valued equally. This means creating a healthier work environment for both men and women, by treating them equally and to pay a living wage to all women and men. As an industry, we can set the right example for the rest of the world.

Clean water and sanitation (Goal 6)

Safe and accessible drinking water for everyone is an essential part of the world we want to live in. Every year millions of people die from diseases related to lack of water, hygiene and sanitation. At the same time, water is spilled and wasted. There are more than a few scenarios where tourism activities jeopardise access to clean drinking water.

As a tourism business you can contribute to this by educating your employees and travellers about the importance of water efficiency and highlighting the importance of saving water. Thereby, you can save lots of water in the office by installing water taps, creating water saving toilets and re-use waste water. Work together with your employees and other organisations to improve local water control!

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Responsible consumption and production (Goal 12)

In order to create a better life for all, this SDG focuses on providing access to basic services, healthy food, and green and decent jobs for a larger group of people for all to benefit. Not only is local, fair-trade and organic food better for the environment, it is also healthier for people to eat!

By buying local and fair-trade food products, educating travellers on sustainable consumption and encouraging them to go eat at local restaurants you are already supporting responsible consumption and production. Thereby, reduce and limit your waste to ensure that the responsible produced food will not be wasted. You will see that implementing these practices are not only cheaper but will also add additional value to your tourism products!

Climate Action (Goal 13)

The effect of climate change is becoming more and more visible. It’s disrupting life as we know it and affects lives, communities and countries by changing weather, rising sea levels and higher greenhouse gas emissions. Even though climate change is not avoidable, we can all contribute to slow down the process.

As a tourism business you can start by leaving out domestic flights in itineraries and making more use of local public transport instead of private transport. The office and climate will benefit from installing energy efficient LED lighting and turning off equipment or sleep-mode when not in use. Thereby, you can reduce the need for business travel by using Skype for national and international meetings. Being good for the environment while saving time makes business sense!

Life below water (Goal 14)

Did you know that our rainwater, drinking water, weather, climate, coastlines, most of our food and even the air we breathe is provided and regulated by the sea? Enough reason to conserve and protect our oceans with marine animals living below water.

As a tourism business you can start by raising traveller awareness on proper waste disposal so human plastic waste does no longer end up in our oceans polluting it and killing underwater life. Do no longer offer activities that disrupt water life (e.g. jet ski’s) and if you organise marine watching tours, make sure you follow a sustainable code of conduct to reduce your impact to the minimum.

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Life on land (Goal 15)

Just like our oceans do our forests provide food security and shelter, and are they key to opposing climate change. By protecting our forests and nature areas, we are able to enforce natural resource management and increase land productivity.

Similar to protecting life below water, tourism businesses can protect life on land by educating travellers on proper behavior when visiting forests or nature areas, and also training drivers and guides to obey to sustainable driving techniques. By saving on paper and at the same time using FSC certified paper when you do need it, you are not only protecting forests but also combating climate change.

Peace, justice and strong institutions (Goal 16)

Were you aware of the fact that tourism is a great driver of peace? A sustainable and open tourism industry brings about a higher level of positive peace: namely the attitudes, organisations and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies.

Educating travellers on different cultures and beliefs is key. For tourism business a whole new niche market has developed itself where tourists can meet and interact with local communities in a way both parties will benefit. Making travellers and local communities more tolerant towards each other reduces the chance of conflicts and transforms them into agents of peace.

Work together to achieve more!

The key note of valuing and implementing all these sustainable development goals is cooperation. Work together with other organisations, collaborate and try to bundle sources by enhancing partnerships to create more positive impact and to aim for reaching the SDGs by 2030!

Curious how you can contribute to all SDGs to make an even more positive impact with your tourism business?

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