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Sustainable Hospitality Alliance Unveils Five-Year, Net-Positive Industry Strategy

The Alliance’s vision for net-positive hospitality includes standardizing sustainability metrics across the industry and a shared vision for giving back to destination communities more than it takes.

The Sustainable Hospitality Alliance (SHA) has unveiled a five-year strategy that will translate into action on the ground, leveraging market power to catalyze system change. The Alliance’s vision for net-positive hospitality will be achieved through a number of initiatives including standardizing sustainability metrics across the industry.

Launched at the Alliance’s recent Summit in Berlin, the strategy adopts a holistic approach to inspire the industry and giving back more to the environment, communities and the economy than it takes. SHA CEO Glenn Mandziuk led the strategic planning session over the last 12 months — working with donor members, external partners and systems-change consultancy Systemiq.

“I am delighted the industry has come together to back our shared vision to go beyond net zero. This strategy can drive large-scale, tangible change — creating net-positive leadership,” Mandziuk says. “Our environment and communities will undoubtedly benefit from this strategy; and I foresee a prosperous and contributory future for the global hospitality sector."

As part of the strategy, the Alliance aims to implement a benchmarking process to track progress on the Pathway to Net-Positive Hospitality and facilitate industry dialogue to develop a shared definition of hospitality sustainability standards, harmonize metrics and streamline reporting requirements — so, the industry can hold itself accountable and work towards a common goal.

The Pathway to Net-Positive Hospitality was unveiled last year with the aim for the industry to go beyond net zero and positively impact the environment, communities and destinations it operates in. This includes across facilities and supply chain, protecting and regenerating nature and culture, generating good jobs and growth, and working with local destinations to build resilience to climate impacts.

The Alliance — which was founded over 30 years ago and includes Accor, Caesars Entertainment, Four Seasons, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Wyndham and over a dozen other global hotel and resort groups as members — now represents over 50,000 properties and 7 million rooms globally. One of the Alliance’s strategic initiatives includes the establishment of a Net-Positive Pathway — an action-focused program outlining shared visions and actions, combined with a shared definition of sustainability standards. This will be supported by an Academy platform to equip the industry to translate vision into action.

To drive large-scale change, the strategy also includes the launch of Hospitality High-Ambition Movers — which will bring together the most ambitious donor members of the Alliance to lead the charge on driving catalytic shifts towards net positive.

Similarly, Net-Positive Accelerators will inspire the Alliance’s members and leverage their footprints and operations to launch collaborative pilot initiatives targeting systemic issues in specific destinations. The aim is to capture critical learnings and potential for scaling and replication, for dissemination to the broader industry.

One such example of strategy in action is a project in Africa focused on improving industry supply chains. The project is supported by the Decent Work for a Just Transition initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, aka Invest for Jobs. The project includes local supplier training, hotel guidance and impact reporting on fair employment, diversity and environment. There is tremendous potential for hotels to source more through local supply chains — thereby increasing their positive impact in local communities, as well as potentially improving their own environmental and social sustainability.

The strategy’s five-year timeline means the SHA is adopting a phased approach; and leveraging a network of partners will be critical to target resources effectively and drive widespread impact — unlocking transformative results over time. By 2028, the Alliance aims to:

1. Have all mainstream private and public leaders understand economic opportunity in net-positive strategies

2. Equip business teams/talent to embed net-positive ambitions into strategy

3. Pioneer nature- and people-positive solutions that are competitive with incumbent alternatives; innovations securing investment

4. Launch policymaker engagement; prompting meaningful reform

5. Advance partner collaboration to advance net-positive ambitions in destinations worldwide, inspired by opportunities unlocked within the past five years.

“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,” says Jeremy Oppenheim, Senior Partner at Systemiq. “We know that the travel and tourism industry could cut emissions by 40 percent, as soon as 2030. Much of the industry is still not moving fast enough; collaboration is critical to leverage this opportunity and overcome barriers to change.”