The new Global Goals for the hotel industry

Siobhan O'Neill, from the International Tourism Partnership, discusses how ITP's four Goals for 2030 will unite the hotel industry for a sustainable future

For 25 years ITP – the International Tourism Partnership – has been working with the world’s leading hotel groups helping them collaborate to drive sustainability and responsible business practices throughout the hotel sector. By sharing best practice to collectively address challenges, we’ve moved further and faster towards a fairer future than companies would manage working independently.

This year we’ve marked our quarter centenary with the launch of the four ITP Goals. Split between shared concerns for people and planet, the Goals tackle carbon, water, human rights and youth unemployment. We chose these particular issues because we recognise them as the most pressing for the sector to address, and the ones which we have the best chance of making the biggest impact on. They also reflect the concerns of the sector’s stakeholders, as identified through two stakeholder engagement exercises conducted by ITP, and they are aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the so-called Global Goals.

The demands on the hotel sector of sustainability reporting have grown dramatically in recent years, and, whilst wide-ranging, the sheer diversity of reports makes it hard for hotels to track progress and benchmark performance against similar properties in comparable locations. The need for uniformity in reporting is what drove ITP to work with its hotel members, non-members and industry leading organisations like the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) to develop a universal tool and metric for measuring carbon footprint per room, stay or meeting.

The Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative quickly became the universally recognised methodology for hotels to measure carbon; permitting benchmarking and the launch of the Hotel Footprints tool which allows hotels to compare their carbon performance to the regional average, as well as helping businesses to report on the footprint of their business travel and events. Its success soon led to the development of HWMI – the Hotel Water Measurement Initiative – allowing hotels for the first time to measure their water consumption in the same consistent way, no matter what their size or where they’re located.

However, those with a shared interest in the sector’s sustainability were beginning to note that it was hard to compare like with like when it came to tracking environmental performance. Hotels recognised a need to align both their CSR actions and their reporting with a core set of issues and indicators, which would bring both clarity in reporting and greater impacts in collective activity. The Global Goals (SDGs) are the ideal solution and for the first time this year a number of hotel companies have aligned their environmental and responsible business reporting with the impacts they’re making against the Global Goals, our own four goals are also clearly allied with the Global Goals.

ITP’s Goals are a carefully constructed and practically achievable response to four of the core sustainability issues impacting responsible hospitality providers globally. And they send a clear call to action to the wider industry about the importance of using the Global Goals as a focal point to drive responsible business.

Our members therefore are committed to work together in support of our Goals, which are:

Youth unemployment: To collectively impact one million young people through employability programmes by 2030, thereby doubling our members’ current impact on youth unemployment.

Carbon: To embrace science-based targets, and encourage the wider industry to join in reducing emissions at scale.

Water: To embed water stewardship programmes to reduce the number of people affected by water scarcity; also improve water-use efficiency and identify ways to address water scarcity.

Human rights: To raise awareness of human rights risks, embed human rights into corporate governance, and address risks arising in the labour supply chain and during hotel construction.

These Goals now form a clear focus for our work moving forward to 2030. We believe that the hotel industry can be a force for good and make a positive contribution to the Global Goals and to the COP21 climate agreements. Our vision for 2030 is for sustainable growth and a fairer future for all. We recognise that bigger impacts can be achieved faster through the industry working together at scale - for this reason we’re inviting other hotel companies to join with us in our commitment to these four critical goals.

Our members recognise it’s a journey. Not everyone knows how they are going to get there, not everyone is at the same milestone, but they do know that there is only one direction of travel. ITP is convening the industry to help develop roadmaps for each Goal with realistic and practical steps aimed at driving progress and measuring impact. And we understand there is a bigger risk in not engaging with these issues for fear of failure, than of working towards the Goals and not quite making it. We know we need to move together as an industry on these issues, as they are too challenging for any one company to address on their own.