Sustainability is not only using less plastic or reducing your ecological footprint. In fact, the concept of sustainability encompasses three pillars, known as the sustainability triangle: environmental, economic and social sustainability.
Explanation of sustainability.
Ecological sustainability is the moderate use of our natural resources so that they can continue to exist in the long term. For example, ecological sustainability addresses issues such as environmental protection, resource conservation and the preservation of biodiversity.
The second dimension of sustainability is social sustainability. This area of sustainability covers topics such as poverty reduction or demographic change and, overall, the question of a good life.
The third and final dimension of sustainability is economic sustainability. Economic sustainability calls for economic systems that can exist within ecological limits in the long term. A sustainable economy does not exploit resources, accumulate debt or leave irreparable damage to future generations.
In the different types of sustainability efforts in this area can be certified with different – national, european as well as international certifications. Examples for certifications in the three different areas of sustainability are explained in the following since the goal is to apply for a sustainability certification within the ETSM2030 project.
Why sustainability certification?
Becoming a certified sustainable business does not mean to only get a stamp of approval but ensure that your company operates envionmentally friendly. A sustainable certification typically involves a business owner investing in a program that lays out a handful of green initiatives to be completed or added to a project launch. Focusing on going green can save money, increase your customer base and provide talking points for your business.
There are several certifications of sustainability.
Which one should my company take part in?
Being part of the EU economy – the two following EU sustainability labels definitely are recognised and also are appreciated by a wide range of consumers as well as business partners. A certification in the following EU sustainability certifications proves your sustainability efforts & success and helps to show your sustainability. Advantages of the following possibilities of EU sustainability certifications are in a nutshell:
- Provide consumers with trusted sustainable products
- Play a role in shaping more sustainable consumption habits
- Be one step ahead of future advertising rules
- Certify your green offer
- Make the reporting on your sustainability efforts easy
EU Ecolabel – The environmental label you can trust.
Better for you, better for the environment! The EU Ecolabel is recognized in all member states of the European Union, as well as Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. It serves as a reference point for consumers who want to help reduce pollution by purchasing more environmentally friedly products and services.
Consumers are increasingly looking for environmentally friendly products. As the EU Ecolabel is a trusted and recognisable label across the EU, having the EU Ecolable on your goods or services will increasingly facilitate consumers choice in favour of your product. At the B2B level, it can create business opportunities for your goods or services.
EMAS – Eco-Management and Audit Scheme
Business and environment must go hand in hand – and they can. With EMAS, your organisation can reduce its environmental impacts, strengthen legal compliance and employee involvement, and save resources and money! As the interest of EMAS from stakeholders in organisations environmental performance is continually increasing it is no longer possible to operate without taking into account the environmental consequences of a companys actions.
EMAS is a voluntary tool from the EU which is open for all businesses, is applicable worldwide and covers all requirements of the DIN EN ISO 14001. Worldwide EMAS is the worlds most demanding environmental management system. With the help of EU instruments, companies and organizations demonstrate that they take responsibility for their actions. Through this communication of commitment internally and externally there are a lot of advantages: it binds employees, strengthen the companys image, create trust and position the organizaiton for the future.
Besides these two certifications established by the EU also other cerfications – on EU level, international or on a national or regional level exist as the following examples show:
Certifications on an international level.
B Corporation – GLOBAL
B Corp Certification is a designation that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials. In order to achieve certification, a company must e. g. demonstrate high social and environmental performance by achieving a B Impact Assessment score of 80 or above and passing our risk review. Multinational corporations must also meet baseline requirement standards. You can find further information via www.bcorporation.net/en-us/certification/.
GSTC – Global Sustainable Tourism Council Certification – GLOBAL
The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) Criteria and Suggested Indicators for Hotels were created in an effort to come to a common understanding of sustainable tourism, and are the minimum that a hotel (or any type of built accommodations) business should aspire to reach. The Hotel Criteria are organized around four main themes: effective sustainability planning, maximizing social and economic benefits for the local community, enhancing cultural heritage, and reducing negative impacts to the environment. The Criteria for Hotels are the same as for Tour Operators, both are identical to the GSTC Industry Criteria, but the Performance Indicators vary between Hotels and Tour Operators. You can find further information via www.gstcouncil.org/gstc-criteria/gstc-industry-criteria-for-hotels/.
Certifications on an European level.
Blaue Schwalbe - EUROPE
The Blue Swallow was the first eco-label for accommodation establishments worldwide. It was created in 1989 and certifies ecologically oriented hotels, guesthouses, inns and campsites in Europe. Most Blue Swallow accommodations are located in travel areas that are easy to reach without flying or driving. The seal has been active since 1990. See www.wirsindanderswo.de/themen/detail/beitrag/umweltzeichen-fuer-den-urlaub/.
Green Destinations - EUROPE
The certification program “Green Destinations” is structured by the sustainability management guidelines of the Green Destinations Standard, which is recognised by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) to cover globally agreed sustainability requirements. Progress is monitored through indicators, which makes the program concrete and measurable. Destinations signing up for the Awards & Certification program engage in a sustainability management cycle aimed at continuous improvement with periodic assessment and independent verification. The same organization offers also the Good Travel Seal for tourism businesses. See www.greendestinations.org for more information.
Bio Hotels – GERMANY, AUSTRIA & ITALY
The association of BIO HOTELS uses 100% organic food and beverages under strict conditions and uses only certified natural cosmetics. Sustainable management, regional purchasing and environmentally friendly energy and waste cycles are mandatory for all BIO HOTELS. For further details see www.biohotels.info.
Certifications on a regional level.
Green Sign – DACH Region
The GSTC-recognized Green Sign evaluates and documents ecological, social and economic aspects of hotel management in over 100 criteria in eight core areas. This ACTUAL status assessment provides the basis for a continuous improvement process in sustainability. In addition, the GreenSign hotel certification includes the calculation of the carbon footprint. See www.greensign.de/en/certification for further details.
Travelife for Tour Operators – DACH Region
The Travelife label uses different standards and verification procedures for accomodations and for tour operators & travel agents. Travelife for tour operators & travel agencies (Partner, Certified) is operated by ECEAT. This system provides online training and practical tools for sustainability planning, management and reporting and is recognized by GSTC.
Travelife for Accomodation - DACH Region
Travelife is an internationally recognised accommodation sustainability certification programme with members in over 50 countries. It helps their members to make their businesses better by providing practical tools and processes to help them improve their environmental, financial and social impacts. The Travelife Standard is GTSC recognised and covers all key areas of sustainability.
ECOCAMPING – DACH Region
ECOCAMPING is a sustainability management system for environmental and nature protection, safety and quality on camping sites. ECOCAMPING advises camping companies on the way to more sustainability. At regular intervals, it is checked whether the planned measures have been implemented at the campsite. Continuous improvement in the areas of environment, quality and safety is a prerequisite for the ECOCAMPING award. In concrete terms, this means: avoiding and recycling waste, using energy and water efficiently, cleaning in an environmentally friendly manner, avoiding traffic pollution, avoiding environmentally harmful substances, designing and maintaining outdoor facilities in a way that is compatible with nature, offering leisure activities that are close to nature, buying and selling products from the region, and much more. See for further details https://ecocamping.de/.
Certifications on a national level.
National certifications in Austria.
The Austrian Ecolabel for Products (Österreichisches Umweltzeichen)
This Austrian label provides the public with information on the environmental impact of consumer goods that arises from their productions, usage and disposal and attracts the attention of consumers to alternative environmentally friendly products. The products or services for which guidelines have been drafted are subject to a holistic evaluation. In this context not only the environmental effects of the use of a product or a service but also the production process, disposal as well as quality and fitness for use (lifecycle) are recorded. For further information you can visit The Austrian Ecolabel for Products.
The "Certification for family friendly employers" is a tailored certification process for employers of all sectors, sizes and legal forms. The process is accompanied by experts, which support the companies to define, plan and evaluate family-friendly activities. Together with their employees companies work on individual family-friendly actions for their companies which are adjusted to the need of all Participants. The certificaiton as a family-friendly company brings a lot of advantages: position as a family-friendly employer, advantage in the competition for qualified employees, positive working atmosphere and positive image both internally and externally. You can find further information via Zertifizierung berufundfamilie | Familie und Beruf.
Austrian Quality Sign for Austrian Model Business (Austria Gütezeichen für den Österreichischen Musterbetrieb)
This certification focuses on quality in all corporate divisions. Besides consumer sadisfaction and working environment also conditions between stakeholders and internal processes as well as sustainability play an important role. With this certification certified companies show better quality as their competitors. For Further information you can visit Austria Gütezeichen Österreichischer Musterbetrieb - Austriagütezeichen (austriaguetezeichen.at).
VSE-Verified Social Enterprise
Companies with a social orientation can call themselves Social Enterprises when being certified by the VSE. This not only increases the trustworthiness of the companies towards their consumers, target groups, investors and supporters but also makes the communication with stakeholders much easier. For more information you can visit Verified Social Enterprise — SENA - Social Entrepreneurship Network Austria.
Natonal certifications in Germany.
Certified Green Hotel
The Association of German Travel Management (VRD) awards the certificate “Certified Green Hotel” to hotels in different European countries for effective environmental management and social responsible actions. Special requirements for business customers are used as evaluation criteria. In neutral and extensive on-site inspections, an objective certificate with reliable detailed statements about the tested hotels, apartments and locations is created - independent of categories, for low-budget hotels as well as luxury houses, for chain and private hotels.
Reisen für alle (Tourism for all)
www.barrierefreierleben.de/eintraege/kennzeichnungssystem-reisen-fuer-alle-27“Tourism for All” is a labelling system for tourist options in Germany. With the aim of reliably enabling barrier-free travel, the "Tourism for All" labeling system was developed ten years ago. It is used to check and describe important information such as accessibility and usability of tourist offers: Are all rooms accessible without steps? Can the exhibition be experienced sitting down? How legible is the signage? Is there an inductive hearing system? Or: What special offers are there for people with a disability? For further details see.
Viabono was launched in 2000 on the initiative of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment and the Federal Environment Agency. The certificate recognizes all types of accommodation establishments, conference centers, restaurants, package tour operators and suppliers, as well as canoe and nature parks. The criteria focus on ecological issues. See http://www.viabono.de for further details.
National certification in Romania.
The System of Certification in Ecotourism in Romania is a mechanism that puts into practice the basic principles of ecotourism – to ensure nature conservation and sustainable development of local communities through tourism. This is an important step given that, since March 2003, the World Tourism Organisation has recommended that governments support initiatives that promote certification in sustainable tourism. It was developed so as to objectively assess how tourism services and programmes comply with the principles of ecotourism. More details you can find via https://asociatiaaer.ro/en/ecotourism-certification/.
National certification in Slovenia.
Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism
The Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism is operating under the brand SLOVENIA GREEN brand, while The Slovenian Tourist Board is the owner and is managing the scheme. The scheme is aligned with the global tool Green Destinations Standard. It was first introduced in Slovenia in 2015 and more than 40 destinations joined the scheme up to today. See https://www.slovenia.info/en/business/green-scheme-of-slovenian-tourism for more information.