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'Net positive hospitality': Hotels, resorts agree to 5-year sustainability strategy

New action plan from Sustainable Hospitality Alliance comes a year after the industry group published its vision to become 'net positive.'

A hotel room with towels on the bed

As part of a new five-year plan, members of the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance have committed to initiatives such as the introduction of standardized sustainability metrics across the sector. Image via Shutterstock/luchunyu

A broad coalition of hotels and resorts have pledged to work toward achieving "net positive hospitality" promising to take action to protect nature, enhance climate resilience and reduce the environmental impact of their operations.

This week, the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, a group which represents more than 50,000 properties and 7 million rooms globally, unveiled a five-year strategy setting out how the sector can "go beyond net zero" and positively affect the environment, communities and the economy.

Announcing the action plan earlier this week, the Alliance heralded the "dawn of a new era for the once-fragmented hospitality industry."

As part of the new five-year plan, the members of the Alliance have committed to a range of initiatives, including the introduction of standardized sustainability metrics across the sector.

The move follows more than 12 months of preparatory work led by Alliance CEO Glenn Mandziuk in conjunction with systems change consultancy Systemiq, donor members and external partners, since the Alliance published its initial vision for how the sector could become "net positive."

"This [five-year] strategy can drive large-scale, tangible change, creating net positive leadership," Mandziuk said. "Our environment and communities will undoubtedly benefit from this strategy, and I foresee a prosperous and contributory future for the global hospitality sector."

Efficient resource use, pollution minimization, protection and regeneration of nature, fairness in the workplace, equitable and better opportunities, community partnerships and support, customer welfare and "net positive" governance are all part of the group's overall vision.

The group also announced that the most ambitious donor members of the Alliance are to form a "hospitality high ambition movers group" that will see them leverage their market position and investment capacity to pioneer cutting-edge sustainability best practices and clean technologies.

Jeremy Oppenheim, senior partner at Systemiq, said the hospitality industry was in a privileged position to drive change across the economy.

"We know that the travel & tourism industry could cut emissions by 40 percent, as soon as 2030," he said. "And while much of the industry is still not moving fast enough, momentum around sustainable hospitality, and the work of the Alliance, can drive that industry-wide transition. Hospitality has a rare opportunity for outsize impact, as one of the few industries that connects to both global industries and local communities through its supply chain."

In related news, the Soho House Group published its second ESG report this week, highlighting how the firm had made significant progress in carbon data collection, offset 100 percent of corporate travel through investment in forest projects and disclosed its climate risks under the Taskforce for Climate-Related Disclosures (TCFD).

The company, which owns 75 sites around the world, is aiming for a 50 percent reduction in its operational and power-related emissions by 2030, and is working with partners to review and reduce Scope 3 carbon emissions intensity by 50 percent.

In his introduction of the report, CEO Andrew Carnie said the firm had "put a particular focus on data collection" in 2022 and was reporting on carbon emission and waste across its portfolio.

"We've used this information to better understand our impact, and to review some of our 2030 goals in the process," he said. "We want to ensure we have a robust strategy in place to meet these targets and that we're transparent about how this evolves as we move forward."

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