With the global community weakened by a humanitarian crisis turned into a financial crisis (which in turn has a multitude of social and humanitarian consequences), this unprecedented situation is a twofold blow (or double whammy for lack of better expression); the imperative to deal with climate emergency and biodiversity collapse amidst a humanitarian crisis all the while ensuring some kind of economic recovery. It is as if the crisis of the three pillars of sustainability, (the same pillars building the realms of most CSR or sustainability plans of individual businesses) has culminated to a macro, global scale. In the short term, the world is looking into the global economic reset with fiscal action amounting to roughly $10 trillion (IMFBlog, 2020). But the global recovery funds are not necessarily tied to any improvement on climate. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, “more than half a trillion dollars worldwide – $509bn – is to be poured into high-carbon industries, with no conditions to ensure they reduce their carbon output” (The Guardian, June 18 2020). Closer to the travel and tourism industry, the EU advocates for a ‘Marshall Plan for European Tourism’ which would help to “reinvent and rethink a sustainable, digital and resilient European tourism sector” (EC, April 21 2020).
The talks are about a ‘green recovery’; this implies ‘green investments’. Green investment, in its basic form, can be considered as being the “expenses an organization is making for a positive impact on the environment” (Doval and Negulescu, 2014). This include both adaptation and mitigation strategies as two complementary approaches for responding to climate change. For example, investment in greater building insulation facing more extreme heat waves can be considered adaptation while investing in standalone renewable energy production would be considered mitigation so as to limit future climate change. When investments are made in restoring natural capital, then mitigation and adaptation strategies work in tandem (regulating major climatic events, supplying society and the economy with ecosystem services).
Our industry is moving ahead into a post COVID-19 territory where we need to find and implement solutions that lead to partial carbon neutrality by 2030 and full neutrality by 2050. What are the green investments required? How do we, as an industry, move forward in light of scarce material resources, new regulations and increased societal scrutiny? What are the consequences when planning and building eco accommodations?