The concept of environmental sustainability encompasses dealing with climate change, and effectively managing our natural resources so they are available for the use of future generations. It has been defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
An environmentally sustainable organisation aims to participate within its community and seeks to balance society, economy and environment within its operations.
Some of the practical steps that organisations can take to work towards environmental sustainability include:
- Reducing paper usage through double-sided use copying and printing
- Procuring supplies that are non-toxic and made from recycled content
- Encouraging the use of car-pooling and public transport
- Implementing recycling programs for cans, bottles and other discarded items
- Installing water-saving devices
Environmental Sustainability in New Zealand Tourism
New Zealand's environment and scenery are the primary drawcards for international visitors and tourism is New Zealand's largest export earner, accounting for over 19% of this country's export earnings.
Although tourism is amongst just a handful of industries that have a commercial imperative to preserve the environment, there are few industries more closely linked to New Zealand’s unique environment.
With this is mind, New Zealand tourism operators and industry bodies are working together to reduce our impact on the environment.
One of the initiatives being adopted by New Zealand tourism operators is the Green Globe programme, which is promoted by an international organisation dedicated to furthering sustainable travel and tourism.
Green Globe is the worldwide benchmarking and certification system for the travel and tourism industry across the triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental management.
Its New Zealand presence is administered by the Sustainable Business Company which assists tourism operators in all areas of sustainable development and facilitates growth of Green Globe.
Green Globe participants come in all shapes and sizes, from small track operators to some of the most recognised hotel brands in the industry.
The Green Globe standard underpins the Green Globe programme and forms the basis to Benchmark an operations environmental and social performance. Each Green Globe participant is Benchmarked against specific Sector Benchmarking Indicators appropriate to their operations.
By choosing Green Globe Benchmarked or Certified participants, travellers can have the confidence their tourism dollars are going to support companies that have demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainable practices.
To learn more about the Green Globe programme please visit their Web site.
Environmentally Sustainable Tourism Project
The New Zealand Government has also taken a leading hand, with its Environmentally Sustainable Tourism Project, built on a successful pilot programme in Northland.
Six regions in New Zealand are participating in the Sustainable Tourism project over 2005-2008, utilising resources from the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010 Tourism Strategy Fund.
The project aims to establish six regional sustainable tourism charters committed to sustainable practices, and the participating groups will enable the tourism industry to continue promoting New Zealand as a 'clean and green' destination by:
- Improving the environmental performance of participating tourism operators
- Providing ways to improve individual business capability around sustainable practices
- Increasing the number of businesses actively incorporating sustainable business practices
- Supporting the 100% Pure NZ brand
- Becoming regional experts in sustainable business practices
To learn more about the Sustainable Tourism Charter Project, please visit the New Zealand Ministry of Tourism Web site.