From a conference first launched three years ago, GREEN Hospitality has expanded and transformed into the hub of connection, innovation, and knowledge exchange for sustainability in the hospitality industry it is today. In less than three years, GREEN Hospitality has hosted 12 events, connecting over 1,000 professionals from various industries. Its six in-depth reports and toolkits have directly reached 4,400 individuals.
When hotel occupancy rate once plunged to a low at 29% and visitor numbers dropped by 99.7%, the tourism and hospitality industry, one of the Four Pillar industries in Hong Kong, was amongst the hardest hit in 2020. Perhaps unsurprisingly, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, GREEN Hospitality remains steadfast with its work in enabling the industry to recalibrate its path forward through green recovery. Its laser focus on sustainability can be traced back to its founding mission three years ago.
The story of GREEN Hospitality began in the autumn of 2018, when Soap Cycling, Asia’s first and largest youth-led soap recycling charity, had the idea of creating a globally-focused network to help the hospitality industry correct course. “As an organisation working closely with the hospitality industry, we realised that while it is a driver for exponential economic growth, such growth, without a comprehensive industry-wide focus on sustainability, will continue to take significant toll on the environment and the wellbeing of local communities,” said Justen Li, Chairman of Soap Cycling. “We wanted to help our hotel partners make more informed, sustainability-driven decisions in their business operations, and that’s really how GREEN Hospitality started.”
The GREEN Hospitality Conference
With the help of HKU students at the impact-based higher-education course, Impact Lab, the idea of GREEN Hospitality was born: it would be a globally focused network that strives to address all aspects of sustainability in the hospitality industry by connecting various stakeholders.
GREEN Hospitality’s first initiative, the inaugural GREEN Hospitality Conference, was held on 26 April 2019, at the Cordis Hotel, with the support of the Sustainable Development Fund, the HKU Business School, and Foundation for Shared Impact. The full-day event was curated to include panel discussions and interactive workshops on issues ranging from waste reduction to food traceability and exploitative recruitment practices and solutions.
Today, GREEN Hospitality Conference is still the first event of its kind in Hong Kong, convening experts, stakeholders, academics, and social impact leaders passionately driving sustainable development in the hospitality industry. The opportunities for connection, cross-sector collaboration, and knowledge exchange it offers made it all the more important and relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the hospitality and tourism industries are among the hardest hit.
At the virtual Conference on 24 September 2020, Lucia Loposova, previously Program Manager and currently Director of GREEN Hospitality, said: “Both the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change have brought to light the stark inequalities in countries all over the world, where underprivileged communities are disproportionately affected. The need to advance sustainable development is now more important than ever, as COVID-19 has set back years of social and environmental progress. Despite being severely hit, the hospitality industry is showing a higher awareness of its great potential in expediting the progress towards a more sustainable future.”
Connecting Stakeholders, Facilitating Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange to Innovate Solutions
Like the meaning behind the acronym - Global, Reduce-Reuse-Recycle-Recover, Employment and Empowerment, Environmental protection, and Now - GREEN Hospitality is not just another initiative aimed at tackling environmental conservation alone. Rather, it focuses on addressing all aspects of sustainability by connecting stakeholders in the hospitality industry and beyond to facilitate knowledge exchange, so as to innovate global solutions for global challenges.
Since its founding in 2018, GREEN Hospitality has expanded beyond its annual Conference, and is increasingly garnering recognition as a leader in sustainable hospitality initiatives. Here are its core initiatives:
GREEN Hospitality Conference: Convening stakeholders in the hospitality industry and beyond to discuss the sustainability challenges they face, facilitating knowledge exchange through panel discussions, and connecting them with innovative solution providers.
GREEN Hospitality Hackathon & Innovation Night: Equipping participants with knowledge on social innovation, design thinking, and pitching techniques, and connecting innovators with hospitality stakeholders seeking solutions to their challenges.
Data-driven Research Reports: Conducting in-depth research into the sustainability challenges and solutions in the hospitality industry.
Industry Briefs: Disseminating its own research findings and external ones so as to educate and help the public and stakeholders in the industry make more informed decisions.
Happy Hour Talks: Inviting leaders and experts on sustainability in the hospitality and tourism industries to share their insights and promote knowledge exchange.
Think Tanks: Promoting dialogues on various sustainability challenges faced by the hospitality industry, and facilitating new partnerships and solutions by tapping into the collective knowledge and expertise of the attendees.
Circular Composting Programme: Working with partner organizations to launch a composting programme to facilitate circular economy in Hong Kong.
Procurement Database for Sustainable Products: Conducting an in-depth research to establish new knowledge on the real impact of alternative plastics, and harnessing this new knowledge to develop a database to enable more informed procurement decision-making for the hospitality industry.
New Brand Image, More Committed to Sustainability Than Ever
So what has changed? Having incorporated in February 2021, GREEN Hospitality is now a non-profit organisation although it remains to be under Pangaia Solutions Limited. “We will be even more committed to connecting stakeholders in the hospitality industry and beyond in Hong Kong and Asia, as well as youth empowerment, and promoting diversity and inclusivity through our work,” said Lucia.
Despite branching out on its own, GREEN Hospitality will still be working closely with Soap Cycling. “We look forward to our continued collaboration with GREEN Hospitality,” said Justen. “COVID-19 has once again highlighted the importance of collaboration in the creation of greater impact. At Soap Cycling, we are excited for GREEN Hospitality for their new journey.”
GREEN Hospitality will be launching a Membership Programme, open to eligible businesses and individuals. Be part of the impact-driven network to benefit from the connection and knowledge exchange, so that you can help your company take the lead in driving sustainability in the hospitality industry. Get in touch to learn more!
GREEN Hospitality is constantly seeking partners and collaborators to fund and support its core programmes. Email email@example.com to learn more about its current and upcoming projects, and how you can contribute your skills and expertise to sustainability in the hospitality industry.